Top Maryland officials say the FBI told them this week that the state’s voter registration platform was purchased by a Russian oligarch in 2015, without state officials knowing. The FBI did not indicate a breach occurred, but state officials say they’re moving forward with a full review.
“We were briefed late yesterday, along with Governor Hogan, by the Federal Bureau of Investigation that the software vendor who maintains portions of the State Board of Elections voter registration platform was purchased by a Russian investor in 2015, without the knowledge of state officials,” Maryland State Senate President Thomas Mike Miller, Jr. and Maryland House Speaker Michael Busch, said in a joint statement Friday.
State officials say they were told they were told their voter registration system, ByteGrid LLC, is financed by AltPoint Capital Partners, whose fund manager is “a Russian” and largest investor is Russian oligarch Vladimir Potanin. ByteGrid LLC performs a vast array of voting-related functions for the state, including voter registration, the state’s online voter registration system, online ballot delivery and unofficial election night results.
“While the FBI did not indicate that there was a breach, we were concerned enough to ask Attorney General [Brian] Frosh to review the existing contractual obligation of the state, as well as asked for a review of the system to ensure there have been no breaches,” Miller and Busch said.
We have also instructed the State Board of Elections to complete all due diligence to give the voters of Maryland confidence in the integrity of the election system. We are also asking the federal Department of Homeland Security Election Task Force to assist the State Board of Elections for any corrective action deemed necessary.”
The state’s voter registration system, according to the Maryland State Board of Elections, was not the hacked state system mentioned in a new indictment from special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation Friday. The indictment, which accuses 12 Russian intelligence officials of hacking Democrats during the 2016 election, said the information of roughly 500,000 voters had been hacked in one state.
Maryland was one of the states the Department of Homeland Security was concerned had suspicious activity leading up to the election, but the State Board of Elections said various government and private security entities determined there was no evidence the ballot system was breached or any fraudulent transactions took place.