WHEELING — West Virginia Secretary of State Mac Warner is seeking national security clearance for himself and at least one of his office employees after U.S. Department of Homeland Security officials told him the state’s election system was accessed by Russian hackers last year.
Federal officials recently told Warner West Virginia’s voting system was among those in 21 states reached by Russian hackers last year. There is no evidence at the state level showing the system was hacked, or that any election information was accessed or altered, according to Warner.
Officials at the Department of Homeland Security have not been able to provide secretaries of state any detailed information about how the cyberattacks occurred because of high-level security issues, but Warner said security clearance and information about possible hackings is necessary for secretaries of state so these issues can be addressed and rectified.
The Department of Homeland Security informed Warner of the access made by Russian hackers into West Virginia’s election system as he attended the National Association of Secretaries of State conference in Indianapolis last week. Warner serves on the association’s committee for cybersecurity and election security, which is working to develop a plan to protect election systems from hackers.
After returning to Charleston, he sent Department of Homeland Security Director John Kelly a letter suggesting that secretaries of state be granted the security clearance necessary to oversee their systems.
“Seeing the fact systems have been accessed causes a lot of us to stay on alert for cybersecurity,” Warner said. “Any reports that hacking occurred in West Virginia are unsubstantiated, and the system was not accessed as far we have information in the Secretary of State’s Office. But it causes a…