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Hackers tried to gain access to voter information

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SARASOTA, FL (WWSB) - The Department of Homeland Security is investigating the attempted hacking of election systems in 21 states, including Florida. Election leaders on the Suncoast say the culprits, with connections to Russia, attempted to gain access to sensitive information.

Sarasota County Supervisor of Elections, Ron Turner, cautioned that people on the Suncoast should not over-react to the news. 

"The attempt was unsuccessful so, it was just some phishing emails that when they were received in various counties, or through the vendors themselves, they realized that it was a phishing attempt and it didn't go any further at the time," said Turner.

Multiple counties, which use the same company to operate voter registration systems, were targeted. The vendor company was not identified.

Homeland Security has not publicly disclosed the cyber security details. However, ABC7 has learned that it was not the voting systems in Manatee and Sarasota counties that were targeted, but voter registration information was targeted.

"Were not talking about the voting system that any of the counties use in the State of Florida, we're talking about the voter registration database," said Turner, who reiterated that the attempt was unsuccessful in Florida.

Turner explained that the state's voting system is not online, which means it cannot be accessed or breached via internet. Additional safeguards are also in place to prevent people from accessing the systems without permission.

Still, some Suncoast residents are concerned that in the digital age, an information hack on any level could have big consequences. 

"Its particularly scary if information gets out with people's voting affiliation or addresses because, I think people would shy away from voting which is a terrible thing," said Karen Nee.