Florida state election officials and the 67 county election supervisors will launch an initiative to evaluate the state’s voting systems are secure from cyberattacks heading into the 2020 election cycle.
The initiative was announced Monday afternoon by Gov. Ron DeSantis during a news conference at the state Capitol.
“I am pleased to announce that the Secretary of State and all 67 Supervisors of Elections will engage in a cooperative, joint cybersecurity initiative ahead of the 2020 elections that will identify and address any vulnerabilities in our elections infrastructure,” said DeSantis.
DeSantis also announced the state would send election funds from a federal grant that have not been spent to local election supervisors to help better secure their voting systems.
“Additionally, the Department of State will redistribute $2.3 million in funding to Supervisors of Elections so they can continue to make any necessary election security upgrades, in addition to the $2.8 million already appropriated for the fiscal year” DeSantis added. “In total, the state is giving $5.1 million for elections cybersecurity as we head into 2020.”
News of the cybersecurity initiative comes a couple of months after the Robert Mueller Report that revealed the FBI believed at least one Florida county was hacked by Russian operatives during the 2016 election.
In a later briefing in May, DeSantis was informed by the FBI that two counties were actually hacked. Their identities were not disclosed, but DeSantis was assured that while the voting systems were hacked, no voter data and vote totals were changed.
“The Department of State will ensure that no county stands alone against foreign threats to Florida’s elections, and that every Floridian can have confidence in the integrity of our elections and the security of their voters,” said Secretary of State Laurel Lee.
Under the plan, the Florida Department of State and election supervisors will conduct election system assessments to identify potential weaknesses and make necessary changes.
Regular monitoring of election systems would be established amd cybersecurity training would be provided to state and local election workers.
“On behalf of Florida’s Supervisors of Elections, we greatly appreciate Governor DeSantis’ commitment to election security as well as the redistribution of $2.3 million in funding to support our efforts,” said Florida State Association of Supervisors of Elections President Tammy Jones. “All 67 Supervisors of Elections stand ready to partner with the Secretary of State on this important initiative and we look forward to working together to keep Florida’s elections secure in 2020 and beyond.”