Florida Gov. Rick Scott said Thursday that the state would hire special election security consultants in advance of this year’s critical elections despite state legislators rejecting a similar request earlier this year. Scott and state officials had asked the Florida Legislature to create a cybersecurity unit in the state’s elections office to combat a “growing threat.” The move came after an effort to infiltrate the state’s election systems during the 2016 elections. Legislators did not agree to the request so the Republican governor said the state would hire five employees under contract to assist Florida election officials. State officials said they would use a federal grant to pay for the security consultants.
“We must be proactive in our efforts to preserve the security and integrity of our elections,” Scott said in a statement. He added that prompted his order to Florida’s Department of State to invest in a cybersecurity team “that will serve as a resource to all of our election officials.”
State officials have provided limited details on what happened ahead of the 2016 elections. A classified report leaked last year suggested hackers linked to Russian intelligence stole information from a voting systems vendor and used it to send phishing messages to local elections officials nationwide, including Florida.
The chief operating officer for the Florida-based company, VR Systems, told local election officials last summer that his computers were never compromised.