Bob Woodward’s Florida Election Hacking Claims Seemingly News to Florida Election Official

The legendary journalist reportedly claims the NSA and CIA have evidence that Washington County election systems have been infected by Russian malware; the county election supervisor has no related records.
Photo by Michael Kovac/Getty Images

The election supervisor in a Florida county whose systems the NSA and CIA reportedly believes have been infested with Russian malware asserts she has no records whatever related to the claim.

Earlier today, CNN reported that in Bob Woodward's new book, the legendary Washington Post journalist claims that "the NSA and CIA have classified evidence the Russians had placed malware in the election registration systems of at least two Florida counties, St. Lucie and Washington. While there was no evidence the malware had been activated, Woodward writes, it was sophisticated and could erase voters in specific districts."


Motherboard filed a public records request with Carol Rudd, the supervisor of elections in Washington County, asking for any documents relating to meetings with the CIA or NSA this year, or documents related to the terms "Russia," "hacking," "malware," or "Woodward" created this year. Rudd immediately replied saying there were no such documents.

As The Intercept has reported, that election officials are unaware of intelligence agencies proclaiming threats to their systems does not mean they are not proclaiming such threats; in fact, the salient thing here might be intelligence agencies disclosing information to Woodward while not disclosing it to local officials.

Rudd did not respond to a follow-up question asking whether she had any awareness of claims that U.S. intelligence agencies had evidence that Washington County's election systems have been compromised by Russian intelligence; we will update if she does.

Motherboard has previously reported that many voting systems around the country have been improperly left online, though there's nothing in the CNN report that suggests a specific malware delivery mechanism.

Why Washington County would be a target of state-sponsored hacking operations is unclear; unlike St. Lucie, Washington is a strong Republican county, with 77 percent of the vote going to Trump in 2016.