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Senate report: Russia more involved in U.S. elections than first thought

By Nicholas Sakelaris
Senate report: Russia more involved in U.S. elections than first thought
Voters fill out ballots at a polling center in Alexandria, Va., on election day, November 8, 2016. File Photo by Molly Riley/UPI | License Photo

July 26 (UPI) -- Russia's efforts to interfere in U.S. elections were even more extensive than previously believed, a new bipartisan Senate report said.

The report, issued Thursday by the Senate intelligence committee, said Moscow began exploiting weaknesses in the U.S. voting system in 2014, reached alarming levels two years later and continued until at least 2017.

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The analysis also found election databases were secured with weak passwords and had other vulnerabilities, while some machines had no paper trail. In one state, the machines had the basic password of "ABC123" and they could easily be switched to supervisor mode to tamper with the votes and "call the results into question."

The 61-page report is based on interviews with state election, government and intelligence officials.

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"In 2016, the U.S. was unprepared at all levels of government for a concerted attack from a determined foreign adversary on our election infrastructure," panel Chair Richard Burr.

Former special counsel Robert Mueller warned a Senate subcommittee this week Russian interference was widespread and most likely hasn't stopped.

Officials say improvements have been made since 2016, including $380 million in grants to replace voting machines, but some experts feel more should be done.

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"I hope the bipartisan findings and recommendations outlined in this report will underscore to the White House and all of our colleagues, regardless of political party, that this threat remains urgent and we have a responsibility to defend our democracy against it," said Sen. Mark Warner, the committee's ranking Democrat.

Attempts by Senate Democrats this week to pass new election security legislation were blocked twice by Republicans.

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