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Hacker changed Florida governor's address in voter registration database

Gov. Ron DeSantis didn't notice the change until he went to vote on Monday.

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Governor Ron DeSantis had his address changed on his voter registration records.

Don Juan Moore / Getty Images
This story is part of Elections 2020, CNET's coverage of the voting in November and its aftermath.

When Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis went to vote on Monday, a poll worker told him that his address didn't match up with his assigned voting location. His address had been changed without his knowledge, and the governor immediately contacted police to investigate what happened. 

The investigation led police to the house of 20-year-old Anthony Steven Guevara, who told police he was able to change the address with public information like the governor's first and last name and his birthdate, according to police records.

With less than a week leading up to Election Day, cybersecurity officials are on guard for hackers looking to influence the vote, whether that's through direct attacks on campaigns or through disinformation campaigns on social media

It's unlikely that a hack can alter the vote count, but hackers have still been able to target election infrastructure like voter registration databases. The FBI warned that Iranian hackers were using election records to target and intimidate voters in Florida. The state also suffered cyberattacks during the 2016 US presidential election, where Russian hackers accessed voter databases

But DeSantis' address change didn't come from a sophisticated cyberattack, and Florida Secretary of State Laurel Lee said its election systems are secure. 

"This incident was perpetrated using publicly accessible voter data, and there is no evidence to suggest that this change was made through the Florida Department of State," Lee said in a statement. "There has been no breach to the Florida Department of State's systems.  The Florida Department of State wants every voter to have confidence in the integrity of our elections network." 

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The Collier County Sheriff's Office said it tracked down Guevara after requesting timestamp logs on changes to DeSantis' voter registration records. Police said they received a Comcast IP address associated with the alterations and subpoenaed the internet provider for an address. 

Investigators looked through Guevara's computer and found that he went on Florida's Department of State website and looked up the Wikipedia page for DeSantis. Court records don't show full details on how Guevara changed DeSantis' address, and the state's election officials didn't answer how it happened or if the security issue has been fixed.

Florida's Department of Law Enforcement said Guevara had also accessed voter registrations of celebrities like Michael Jordan and LeBron James, but didn't change any details on their records. 

Guevara is charged with altering voter registration without consent and held on a $5,000 bond, according to police records.