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W.Va. Secretary of State: Russians Meddled in Social Media, Not Voting Machines

Photo by Joselyn King West Virginia Secretary of State Mac Warner speaks out on the validity of state and U.S. elections during a stop in Wheeling this week.

WHEELING — West Virginia Secretary of State Mac Warner says while Russians meddled with social media to influence the 2016 U.S. presidential election, no evidence suggests they tampered with any voting device and American elections are secure.

It’s a message he wants to get out to all 2020 presidential candidates, many of whom have questioned the validity of the 2016 election.

“Stop bad mouthing the election process. Our elections are secure,” he said. “The meddling is with the candidates and the campaigns, and they’re coming for our minds and spirit.

“I think people are purposely or inadvertently muddling this all together.”

“They’re saying (Russians) are coming after us on social media, and therefore our elections are illegitimate.”

No massive voter fraud or changing of votes occurred in the election, according to Warner. Russians instead hacked into the accounts of candidates, campaigns and political operatives. Meanwhile, no election apparatus in the nation was affected by Russian meddling.

“It’s a distinction we all need to get clear so we can move in to 2020 with confidence in the elections,” he said. “It’s about internet and information literacy. It’s about awareness of what the Russians are up to.”

Warner told of the efforts of former campaign managers for presidential candidates Hillary Clinton and Mitt Romney, who have come together to establish the “Defending Digital Democracy” project at Harvard University. The project is working with experts in the technology and national security industries to identify and recommend strategies, tools, and technology to protect democratic processes and systems from cyber and information attacks.

Following the recent downing of a U.S. drone by Iran, America responded not with a missile attack but with a cyber attack, according to Warner.

“We are already in the cyber war era,” he said. “It’s not out there in the future. We’re living it.

“That’s what they (Russians) are doing to us — coming at us using the thing that every kid has in their hands and using social media. They are not attacking our machines, they are attacking our minds and spirit of America by getting us to not trust each other, not trust election, not trust elected officials or police,” he said.


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