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Tennant, Warner divided over hacking claims

Secretary of State Natalie Tennant and Secretary of State-Elect Mac Warner are sparring over claims that the Department of Homeland Security attempted to “hack” into West Virginia election records.

Warner encouraged President-elect Donald Trump to pursue an immediate investigation into “recorded hacking attempts” of voter files in West Virginia, according to a statement released early Sunday morning. Warner said the attempts were recorded by firewall protection software Nov. 7 and Oct. 29.

“Upon taking office, this issue will be at the top of our list to investigate and respond appropriately,” Warner wrote. “DHS holds a responsibility to be transparent with the hacking details, objective and intent of action with the information.”

Tennant said Warner’s statements were false in a statement Sunday afternoon. On Oct. 29 an invalid website address was used in an attempt to reach West Virginia’s Statewide Voter Registration System. She said the DHS IP address Warner is questioning viewed public election night results on Nov. 7.

“The IP address did not access anything of concern and after discussions with DHS about our specific traffic here in West Virginia, we have no indication at this time that the visits were malicious,” Tennant said in a press release.

The Secretary of State’s office staff has been in close contact with the federal DHS, the West Virginia Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Management, and the West Virginia National Guard throughout and prior to the election cycle. Tennant said West Virginia did grant DHS permission to do a cyber-hygiene scan prior to the election.

This comes after the Georgia Secretary of State’s office announced an attempt to break through their firewall came from an IP address associated with the DHS. Georgia and DHS officials have been investigating the incident.

Unlike West Virginia, Georgia did not have an agreement with the DHS to conduct cyber-hygiene scans.

“We can only speak about the DHS IP address visits here in West Virginia, but, again, those have been investigated and were not malicious. Any reports to the contrary are simply unfounded and false,” Tennant said.

Reach Ali Schmitz at, 304-348-4843 or follow @SchmitzMedia on Twitter.

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