- *The media term, "Russian meddling," conflates "state election board" hacking with "DNC hack." The DNC hack never took place. There were efforts however, by the GRU to hack state election boards. The Obama Department of Homeland Security alerted the state boards, but failed to get cooperation for a coordinated response out of fear among the states of another intrusion and power grab by the federal government."Many of the state officials—especially from the red states—wanted little, if anything, to do with the DHS. Leading the charge was Brian Kemp, Georgia’s secretary of state, an ambitious, staunchly conservative Republican who feared the hidden hand of the Obama White House. “We don’t need the federal government to take over our voting,” he told Johnson.
Johnson tried to explain that DHS’s cybersecurity experts could help state systems search for vulnerabilities and protect against penetrations. He encouraged them to take basic cybersecurity steps, such as ensuring voting machines were not connected to the internet when voting was underway. And he kept explaining that any federal help would be voluntary for the states. “He must have used the word voluntary 15 times,” recalled a Homeland Security official who was on the call. “But there was a lot of skepticism that revolved around saying, ‘We don’t want Big Brother coming in and running our election process.’ ”
After the call, Johnson and his aides realized encouraging local officials to accept their help was going to be tough. They gave up on the idea of declaring these systems critical infrastructure and instead concluded they would have to keep urging state and local officials to accept their cybersecurity assistance.
Johnson’s interaction with local and state officials was a warning for the White House. If administration officials were going to enlist these election officials to thwart Russian interference in the voting, they would need GOP leaders in Congress to be part of the endeavor and, in a way, vouch for the federal government."
“Why the Hell Are We Standing Down?”, The secret story of Obama’s response to Putin’s attack on the 2016 election. Second of two excerpts adapted from Russian Roulette: The Inside Story of Putin’s War on America and the Election of Donald Trump (Twelve Books), by Michael Isikoff, chief investigative correspondent for Yahoo News, and David Corn, Washington bureau chief of Mother Jones. March 2018.