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Forget reports of computer hacks, elections supervisor assures Hillsborough commissioners

in The Bay and the 'Burg/Top Headlines by

Hillsborough Supervisor of Elections Craig Latimer says there’s been a lot of fake news about the hacking of voting machines, so he wants to set the record straight.

Latimer told county commissioners Wednesday his office received seven emails that were spearfishing attempts a week before the November 2016 election. Fortunately, he explained, they never went very far.

“Those emails never made it to the desktop. They were quarantined by our system,” he said.

“Phishing trip: At least 5 Florida counties baited by Russian election hack,” blared a headline in the Miami Herald, which reported that similar emails were sent to four elections supervisors’ offices in Florida.

Latimer read those headlines, but says there was absolutely no hack of his office’s servers. That’s because, he explained, the computers that used in his office aren’t connected to the tabulation voting system.

“Our tabulation system is a standalone closed system, not connected to the internet or my intranet in anyway,” he said.

Latimer acknowledged that his office remains vulnerable to a computer hack, but says that his staff is always on guard for any potential changes to their computer system.

“We have robust security measures in place, both at the county level and at the state level,” he said, adding that there are redundancies and backups throughout the voting system.

Latimer also weighed in on another voting issue.

Florida Secretary of State Ken Dentzer last week joined with officials from more than 40 states in rejecting a request from a commission looking into election fraud appointed by President Donald Trump for sensitive information from Florida voters.

Detzner sent a letter to the commission saying, “We cannot fully comply with your entire request.”

Detzner says that drivers license information and social security numbers cannot be released under state law.

“Our voting rolls are public record,” Latimer told the Board of County Commissioners. “What’s not public record is your driver’s license number, the last four digits of your Social Security number and your signature. That is not public record.”

On a personal note, Latimer said that he has been asked to serve on a task force was formed by the Election Center, a national non-profit consisting of election officials.

Meanwhile, Kris Kobach, the controversial Secretary of State from Kansas and vice chairman of the election panel, created more news on Wednesday when he said that he believes that Trump is dead-on regarding the number of illegal votes cast exceeded the popular vote margin of nearly three million between him and Hillary Clinton.

‘We’ll probably never know the answer to that question.,” Kobach told MSNBC’s Katy Tur when asked if he believes that Clinton had won the popular vote in the 2016 election by nearly three million votes.

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Mitch Perry has been a reporter with Extensive Enterprises since November of 2014. Previously, he served as five years as the political editor of the alternative newsweekly Creative Loafing. He also was the assistant news director with WMNF 88.5 FM in Tampa from 2000-2009, and currently hosts MidPoint, a weekly talk show, on WMNF on Thursday afternoons. He began his reporting career at KPFA radio in Berkeley. He's a San Francisco native who has now lived in Tampa for 15 years and can be reached at mitch.perry@floridapolitics.com.

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