A new report showing that US state-level voter databases were publicly available calls into question the narrative that Russian intelligence “targeted” US state election-related websites in 2016.
A September 1 report in the Moscow daily Kommersant on a “dark web” site offering a database of personal information on millions of registered American voters undermines one of the central themes of the Russia hysteria pervading US politics.
Democratic politicians and corporate media pundits have long accepted it as fact that Russian intelligence “targeted” US state election-related websites in 2016. But the Kommersant report shows that those state registered voter databases were already available to anyone in the public domain, eliminating any official Russian motive for hacking state websites.
Kommersant reported that a user on a dark web Forum known as Gorka9 offered free access to databases containing the information of 7.6 million Michigan voters, along with the state voter databases of Connecticut, Arkansas, Florida and North Carolina.
There are differences between the Michigan database described by Gorka9 and the one that the State of Michigan releases to the public upon request. Tracy Wimmer, the spokesperson for the Michigan Secretary of State, said in an e-mail to Grayzone that when the Michigan voter registration database is released to the public upon request, the state withholds “date of birth (year of birth is included), driver’s license number, the last four digitals of someone’s social security number, email address and phone number….” However, Gorka9’s description of the Michigan data includes driver’s license numbers, full dates of birth, social security numbers and emails.
In fact both un-redacted and redacted state voter files are obviously widely available on the dark web as well as elsewhere on the internet. Meduza, a Russian-language news site based in Riga, Latvia, published the Kommersant story along with an “anonFiles” download portal for access to the Michigan voter database and a page from it showing that it is the officially redacted version. The DHS and the FBI both acknowledged in response to the Kommersant story that “a lot of voter registration data is publicly available or easily purchased.”