Gov. Rick Scott on Wednesday ordered his top elections official to take advantage of $19 million of federal money for cybersecurity in time for this year’s elections. Scott’s decree reverses the decision made by Secretary of State Ken Detzner, who said Tuesday he wanted to move slowly and preserve the money for long-term election needs. The governor’s announcement comes after news media coverage of Detzner’s position, which the secretary of state outlined to reporters during the spring conference of the Florida State Association of Supervisors of Elections in Fort Lauderdale. “We’re going to follow the governor’s directive. I think it’s well pointed, and we’re going to move aggressively based on his direction to submit a budget to the EAC and to try to draw down those dollars as soon as possible,” Detzner said Wedneday in an interview after the governor’s announcement.
The EAC is the U.S. Election Assistance Commission, the agency that was allocated $380 million for states to use on election security and technology in the $1.3 trillion federal spending plan passed in March.
The reversal came less than 24 hours after Detzner said the money wouldn’t be available for the 2018 elections. “It’s easy and nice to have money,” Detzner said Tuesday afternoon, adding that “I want to make sure that this $19 million looks at what are the real needs, short term and long term. … We want to have a plan. We want to make sure that this $19 million can serve us not only for this election year but for future election years too because when that money is gone we don’t know if there will ever be any money again.”