Mueller Report: NCSBE asking if NC voting software company was hacked in 2016

NORTH CAROLINA — The North Carolina State Board of Elections is asking a voting software company if it was hacked by Russian cyber attackers in 2016.

The NCSBE wants to know if VR Systems is "Vendor 1" in the Mueller report. The report indicates that russian intelligence successfully "installed malware on the company network." The letter from NCSBE asks VR Systems for "immediate, written assurance regarding the security" of its network.

Nearly two dozen counties in the state used VR Systems in 2016, including Mecklenburg.

"What we use it for on is the back end so that we can record provisional ballots, transfers, that sort of stuff that allows us to do it uniformly through 195 different precincts," Mecklenburg County Board of Election Director Michael Dickerson said.

VR Systems is based in Tallahassee and used to have an office in Matthews. Emails to the company were not returned.

Mecklenburg county is unique in how it uses VR Systems

Unlike some other counties in the state, Mecklenburg doesn't use it to check in voters, just to process provisional ballots.

Early voting for the 9th congressional district primary starts Wednesday. Dickerson wants people to know their sensitive information is safe.

"You don't have to concern yourself," he said. "Personal data is restricted and nobody gets that."

In 2016, Durham County experienced numerous problems with VR Systems' electronic poll book software in several precincts, according to Pat Gannon with the North Carolina State Board of Elections. The county has since switched to paper poll books like Mecklenburg County.

According to NCSBE, VR Systems did not immediately explain the cause of the issues.

"State Board investigators believe user error on the part of Durham County election and poll workers likely contributed to the 2016 incident," Gannon said. "However, the agency’s review to date, including questions posed to VR Systems, has not conclusively determined the cause, in part because the agency lacks the necessary technical expertise to forensically analyze the computers used in Durham County, and other government agencies declined the agency’s requests to evaluate them."