Feds tell Washington state officials Russians tried to hack elections

OLYMPIA, Wash. -- Federal authorities have told officials in Washington that Russian hackers unsuccessfully tried to access election systems in the state prior to the 2016 general election.

Secretary of State Kim Wyman said in a statement that the Department of Homeland security informed her office Friday of the attempted breach, of which state officials had already been aware.

"As we've stated before, we continue to work cooperatively with DHS - including during the election last year. The security protocols we already have in place made us aware of these attempted intrusions by Russian IP addresses throughout the course of the 2016 election," Wyman said. "There was no successful intrusion and we immediately alerted the Federal Bureau of Investigation of the activities."

Washington was one of 21 states targeted by Russian hackers, said Erich Ebel, a spokesman for Wyman. The Department of Homeland Security called Wyman personally to tell her of the activity, he said.

Federal authorities were in contact with all 50 states and six U.S. territories on Friday, Wyman said.

Washington state uses the updated software and "best practices and security measures" to try to ensure honest elections, she said.

The secretary of state's office also says it uses a paper-based system that lets officials examine a voter's intent and can hand-count a race if necessary. For the few voters who use a touch-screen system, the office says a paper audit trail verified by the voter is required.