CHIPLEY - The voter database in Washington County is one of two in Florida hacked by Russians during the 2016 elections, according to the Federal Bureau of Investigation.
Staff at the elections office said Friday that Washington County Supervisor of Elections Carol Rudd was unavailable, however, later referred The News Staff to a news release published at wcsoe.org.
"At this time Washington County can neither confirm or deny that they are one of the counties affected. However, as you can see from the statement below that was issued by the FBI they were able to give assurance that they did not detect any adversary activity that impacted vote counts or disrupted electoral processes during the 2016 and 2018 elections," the WCSOE release states.
According to a Washington Post news story, the Russian military spy agency, the GRU, was responsible for the breach of the county's database.
Following a meeting with Gov. Ron DeSantis, the Federal Bureau of Investigation issued a statement to media and elections officials, stating the GRU's "attempted intrusion" had not disrupted vote counts or the electoral process.
"We have also confirmed that since the midterm election, FBI and [Department of Homeland Security] have had significant interaction with elections officials across the state of Florida, including but not limited to on-site visits, collection of evidence, and offers of remediation when needed," the WCSOE release concluded.
The lack of open communication about the breach has drawn criticisms from elected officials.
The Post reported then-Florida Secretary of State Ken Detzner said he was "prohibited by law from commenting." But "the citizens deserve and have a right to know important things with regard to their election security. Over time, it'll come out."
State legislators are planning to introduce legislation to confront the classification of breach notifications related to election infrastructure, The Post reported. The FBI asserted information could not be disclosed because of the need to protect the bureau's sources and methods, and because it considers county officials to be victims of the Russian hacking.
In response to reporter inquiries from the The Post, Rudd - who declined to comment on the breach - said in an email, "If each agency gets suspicious of the other's ability to follow the rules of confidentiality, then those tenuous lines of communication quickly break down."
"That would set our security capabilities back years and severely compromise our ability to protect our elections. THAT would be a big win for the Russians going into 2020," she wrote.
The News will update this story as other details become available.