Election security a focus of governor’s budget proposal

Published: Nov. 19, 2019 at 4:01 PM EST
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By: Jake Stofan | Capitol News Service

November 19, 2019

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (CSN) -- A high priority of the governor’s budget is increasing election security.

The request comes after Florida Secretary of State Laurel Lee issued a grave warning of ongoing threats.

“Every single day domestic actors and foreign actors attempt to penetrate our Department of State networks,” said Lee in October.

Governor Ron DeSantis took the issue seriously in his proposed 2020 budget request

“We're doing $6.6 million for elections cyber security enhancements,” said DeSantis.

The governor’s proposal includes items the Department of State has been requesting for years.

$1.3 million would go towards hiring ten cyber security experts who would not only help at the state level, but also advise local election supervisors how to bolster their defenses including Leon Supervisor Mark Earley.

“Our firewalls are being hit all the time, but there's other threats too and so getting a better understanding of those, being able to develop responses requires a great level of expertise,” said Earley.

Another $1.4 million would implement a system known as the Electronic Registration Information Center, or ERIC, which will help ensure the state’s registration database is up to date and accurate.

Earley said while he appreciates the gesture from the Governor, getting money distributed in a timely manner will be pivotal, especially with the 2020 election cycle just around the corner.

"In 2018 there was money allocated at the federal level and we were right in the middle of the Summer very close to August when we actually had access to those funds and that was very difficult to get that implemented in time to have much of an impact,” said Earley.

The governor’s proposal is only a request, it’s the Legislature that approves the final spending plan.

Since the 2018 election, Florida has committed about $18 million for election security enhancements.

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