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Russian-backed Firm Owns Maryland Election Data Servers

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Chris Connelly
/
WYPR

A Russian-backed firm owns the servers where Maryland stores voter registration and other election-related information, officials announced Friday.

State legislative leaders said the FBI warned them and Gov. Larry Hogan about the Russian ties in a meeting earlier in the week.

Maryland’s contract with the local web-hosting firm began in 2014. The next year, the company was purchased by ByteGrid LLC, whose largest investor is a Russian oligarch named Vladimir Potanin.

Officials said there are no signs of a data breach, but they are taking every precaution to maintain voter confidence in the state’s election system.

“This is the evil empire, and they are at our door when they invest in our election process,” said state Senate President Thomas V. Mike Miller.

Attorney General Brian Frosh is looking into whether the state can break the contract.

In a letter to Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen, Miller, House Speaker Michael Busch and Gov. Larry Hogan asked for help with auditing and securing the state’s election data.

“The protection of the State of Maryland election network is one of the most solemn responsibilities that we as elected leaders are entrusted to oversee,” they wrote.

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