The Russians are ready for the midterm elections. Are we? The August primaries loom, with the general election in November soon after. But the state is getting a late start in protecting its voting system from tampering. Though county elections supervisors across the state have been persistent in their pleas for state help, too many state leaders, from lawmakers to the secretary of state, either dragged their feet in, or rejected outright, taking steps to assure Floridians that they can vote with confidence and that the integrity of the election process is paramount. To his credit, Gov. Rick Scott has stepped up, demanding that the state request the $19.2 million in federal funds available to harden the state’s voting system. Congress included $380 million in its 2018 budget bill for the U.S. Election Assistance Commission to distribute to the states. President Trump signed the budget bill in March. Scott rightly overruled Secretary of State Ken Detzner and his oblivious announcement last month that Florida would not seek those much-needed funds.
It was a stupendous lack of accountability to Florida’s voters, and Detzner quickly got on message after the governor pushed back. Last week, Detzner’s department formally requested the $19.2 million in grant funds.
It’s not as if the balloting system has not been a target. In the run-up to the 2016 presidential election, Russian hackers attempted to break into voting systems in at least five Florida counties. None, apparently, were in South Florida.
Rightly alarmed by these thwarted attempts, the governor asked the Legislature this year to fund five cybersecurity experts in his “Securing Florida’s Future” budget. The request was rejected.