Tuesday, June 5, 2018

Florida will receive $19.2 million in federal funds for election security

Posted By on Tue, Jun 5, 2018 at 3:59 PM

The U.S. Election Assistance Commission gave the OK on Monday to allocate money for election security, voting equipment and staff training in Florida.

The federal funds were approved in March as a portion of $380 million set aside for states to invest in upgrading voting systems and security – money that was included in the $1.3 trillion federal spending legislation passed that same month. However, since Gov. Rick Scott’s administration didn’t bother to ask for the state’s allocation, the funds for the Sunshine State were delayed.

“The answer is no,” Secretary of State Ken Detzner said last month, when asked if the aid money could be used to improve election systems.

That stance didn’t last. Less than a day later, Scott – who’s challenging Democratic Sen. Bill Nelson for his seat in Congress – pretty much palmed Detzner’s response and announced that Florida would seek the funds after all. Of course, Nelson’s berating of Scott over the issue in a Senate floor speech probably hastened the process.

Detzner then reportedly asked the EAC to send the money on May 30.

In that time, Republican Sen. Marco Rubio – a member of the Senate Intelligence Committee who’s voiced his skepticism regarding Florida’s election security preparedness – asked the commission to “promptly approve” the funds “so that the state may expedite their plans to strengthen our election systems.”

By Monday, after two months of the Scott administration dragging its feet, the feds had approved the request within one day.

Here are a few details about that money:
  • To get its share of the $19.2 million, Florida has to provide a 5 percent match, or about $959,000.
  • That money can be used for election administration essentials, such as voter education, poll worker training, standardizing the reporting of election results and other election costs.
  • It’ll be divided among Florida’s 67 counties to help detect threats, such as in 2016 when there was an email phishing attempt in at least five Florida counties, which, according to a federal agency, was the work of Russian hackers.
Seems convincing enough, right? The EAC more or less thought so.

Here’s the letter the EAC sent to Rubio:

The letter raises an important question: What in the hell was the holdup?

According to the EAC’s letter, Florida would have had the money long ago if it had applied for it sooner, which would made sense given that the circumstances relate to both state and national security. That's especially true considering that 16 states had already requested the funds prior to Florida's request, and as of Monday, at least 23 states have so far applied.

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