Florida Democratic Senator Bill Nelson said Wednesday that Russian operatives have hacked some of the Sunshine States's election systems ahead of this year's midterms.
"They have already penetrated certain counties in the state and they now have free rein to move about," Nelson told the Tampa Bay Times.
State officials argue that they have no evidence to support the senator's claims.
Nelson, who is running for re-election, declined to identify which counties have been penetrated, saying it was classified. "The threat is real and elections officials — at all levels — need to address the vulnerabilities."
Nelson, the ranking member of the cyber subcommittee of the Senate Armed Services Committee, and his Republican colleague, Florida Sen. Marco Rubio, who is on the Senate intelligence committee, wrote a letter last month to all 67 of the county election supervisors in their state.
"This is no-fooling time. That's why two senators — bipartisan — reached out to the apparatus in Florida to let them know that the Russians are in the records and all they (the Russians) have to do — if those election records are not protected — is to go in and start eliminating registered voters," Nelson said
The Florida Department of State said it had received "zero information" from Nelson or his staff that supports the claims of Russian meddling.
The department said state and local election officials have taken "significant steps to ensure the security and integrity" of Florida elections.