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Feds: Russian hackers targeted ND's elections systems

North Dakota Secretary of State Al Jaeger

BISMARCK—Russian hackers targeted North Dakota's elections systems last year, according to new information disclosed to the state's top elections official Friday, Sept. 22.

Secretary of State Al Jaeger confirmed Saturday, Sept. 23, that his office was called the previous day and notified that North Dakota was among 21 states targeted by hackers last year.

He said his office was alerted Thursday, Sept. 21, that the U.S. Department of Homeland Security would call elections officials in each state Friday to disclose if they were a target for hacking. Jaeger said his office got a "very brief" call that said North Dakota was one of the affected states.

Jaeger said the information was "very sketchy" Friday. He said he has requested more details from the DHS.

"We have had discussions with them," he said. "There's a lot of things that we still have questions on, so that's why we're not commenting until we know more."

Jaeger said he will comment more on Monday, Sept. 25.

Minnesota was also notified that it was targeted. A news release from Secretary of State Steve Simon said the DHS told him Minnesota was among 21 states "targeted by entities acting at the behest of the Russian government leading up to the 2016 election," though the agency also confirmed there wasn't a breach or attempt to breach Minnesota's election system.

According to Simon, the DHS said hackers scanned IP addresses related to the secretary of state's website to try to find vulnerabilities, but nothing further happened. He said the state's system previously identified scanning IP addresses and blocked them.

"Scanning from outside entities is commonplace and happens every day, which is why I continue to believe the most serious challenge to the integrity of our election system is the threat of outside forces, including foreign governments, who seek to disrupt and undermine our elections," Simon said Friday in a written statement.