Florida lawmakers question election security

Photo: Ralph Northam / Twitter
Photo: Ralph Northam / Twitter(WHSV)
Published: Apr. 19, 2018 at 4:24 PM EDT
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By: Jake Stofan | Capitol News Service

April 19, 2018

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (CNS) -- Election experts in the state are joining Senator Marco Rubio, expressing concerns over the security of the state’s election system.

Only seven counties in the state have implemented rigorous auditing systems to ensure the validity of election results.

With only a handful of counties so far adding extra security measures, there are still sixty more counties in Florida who may be unprepared for possible threats to this year’s election.

Leon is one of the counties to upgrade its system by implementing additional auditing measures.

Bay, St. Lucie, Putnam, Nassau, Columbia and Broward counties are also on board.

Leon County Supervisor of Elections Mark Early says, “It is very powerful in that it look for problems in marking ballots.”

With 60 counties in the state lacking a rigorous auditing system, experts say its unlikely most will be able to implement protections before the upcoming election cycle.

"The additional measures aren’t required by state law," says Ion Sancho, Former President of the Florida State Association of Supervisor of Elections. "I have to fault the Florida Legislature for failing to enact legislation that would require more use of this technology."

Governor Rick Scott asked to hire five cyber security experts in the 2018 budget, but the Legislature ignored the request.

"They're over confident that they're okay, and quite frankly, that is hubris," Sancho says.

The Legislature did approve $1.9 million in federal funding to help counties purchase additional security equipment.

Author Eric Eggers of the Government Accountability Institute says it’s not enough.

“No one is really incentivized to detect or expose election fraud, because that undermines the very basis of our democratic ideals,” Eggers says.

During the 2016 election, 5 Florida counties were unsuccessfully targeted by Russian hackers. Experts believe those attacks aren’t likely to stop anytime soon.

The Florida Department of State is working to hire additional cybersecurity personnel prior to the 2018 election, saying in a statement that it is laser-focused on election security as we look ahead to the 2018 election and beyond.