April 14, 2024


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FBI, Ohio investigating whether elected official aided in attempted breach of voter system

Campaign signs line the road leading in to the parking lot of the Franklin County Board of Elections during early voting Columbus, Ohio Nov. 1.

Campaign signs line the road leading in to the parking lot of the Franklin County Board of Elections during early voting Columbus, Ohio Nov. 1.

Ohio is investigating whether someone tried to gain access to Lake County’s election network in order to find evidence of voter fraud.

According to The Washington Post, federal and local investigators are looking into what happened when a private laptop was plugged into the county network inside the office of Republican John Hamercheck, chairman of the Lake County Board of Commissioners.

The Lake County Board of Elections didn’t respond to a request for comment, but a spokesman for the Ohio Secretary of State confirmed the investigation, saying no voter data or board information was compromised.

According to The Post, Lake County’s security system worked. The computer connected to the county network, but the board of elections uses a separate network that only recognizes authorized devices.

“We are thrilled that our infrastructure stayed strong,” Lake County Board of Elections Director Ross McDonald told The Post.

Hamercheck didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment, but he told The Post that he was advised not to comment on the investigation including whether he participated in it.

Ohio Secretary of State Frank LaRose told The Post he believes a government official helped facilitate the breach.

“It’s concerning that somebody would — especially somebody in a government office, somebody who is an elected official, or somebody who’s part of county government — would not realize all of those safeguards exist and would try to engage in some sort of a vigilante investigation,” LaRose said in an interview with The Post. “The good news is that our system of cyber security in Ohio is among the best in the nation.”

Lake County and federal prosecutors will decide whether anyone involved in the attempted breach should face criminal charges.

Ohio isn’t the only state where a local board of election saw this kind of attempted breach.

The FBI searched the home of a clerk in Mesa County, Colorado, earlier this month.

The clerk, Tina Peters, is accused of making unauthorized copies of her county’s Dominion Voting System hard drives. Dominion has been repeatedly cited in election conspiracy theories by former President Donald Trump and his supporters.

Anna Staver is a reporter with the USA TODAY Network Ohio Bureau. It serves the Columbus Dispatch, Cincinnati Enquirer, Akron Beacon Journal and 18 other affiliated news organizations across Ohio.

This article originally appeared on The Columbus Dispatch: Ohio investigating whether official attempted to breach voting network

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