County elections officials and Gov. Rick Scott’s administration are at odds again, this time over new state requirements on how millions of dollars in cyber-security money can be spent across the state. Florida was awarded $19.2 million from the feds in March, and most of the money is to help counties fortify their voting equipment against the ever-present threat of cyber-attacks from Russia and elsewhere, as they plan primary and general elections. First, counties accused the state of slow-walking an application for federal help. Scott had to personally intervene in May and direct Secretary of State Ken Detzner to seek the money.
Soon after the check arrived, the state told all 67 counties that they must file detailed applications for their share no later than July 18.
In addition, the state said the cyber-security money is for this election cycle only, and any money counties receive that is unspent must be returned to Tallahassee in November. This is known as a “use it or lose it” provision, which encourages counties to spend their money as fast as possible.
Those requirements are in a memorandum of agreement the state sent to counties.