Saying there is a “growing threat” to Florida’s election systems, the state may spend nearly $2.4 million in the coming year on cybersecurity efforts designed to protect election-related software and systems from outside hackers. Gov. Rick Scott included the request, which initially came from state election officials, in budget recommendations he gave to the Florida Legislature last week. Scott asked for the money even though state officials have provided limited details behind efforts to infiltrate Florida’s election systems ahead of the 2016 elections. The Florida Legislature has also not held any hearings on what happened.
A classified report leaked in June 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 Florida election officials over the summer that his computers were never compromised.
Sarah Revell, a spokeswoman for Secretary of State Ken Detzner, said in September the U.S. Department of Homeland Security told the state that Florida was unsuccessfully targeted by hackers last year. Ahead of the 2016 elections, the FBI held a phone call with Florida elections officials where it warned them about potential security threats.