Wednesday, May 22, 2019

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis announces election security review after learning of Russian breaches

Posted By on Wed, May 22, 2019 at 1:25 PM

  • Photo by flysnow via Adobe Stock
Gov. Ron DeSantis is calling for a review of the state's election systems following the FBI's disclosure to state officials that Russian hackers successfully breached two counties' election data during the 2016 election.

"Public faith in our elections is the bedrock of our democracy and we must do everything within our power to preserve the integrity of elections systems," DeSantis said in a news release directing Secretary of State Laurel Lee to initiate the review.

The report from Special Counsel Robert Mueller said that the FBI believes Russian hackers successfully breached two counties' election data after they sent more than 120 "spearphishing" emails to county election officials ahead of the 2016 election.

In a closed-door meeting earlier this month, the FBI relayed the information they obtained through the investigation to DeSantis, U.S. Sen. Rick Scott, and the Florida congressional delegation, though the officials aren't allowed to disclose which counties were a part of the hacking to the public.

However, the Washington Post reported last week that Washington County in the Panhandle was among the counties that were hacked.

In the news release, DeSantis says the breaches "did not compromise the outcome" of the 2016 election. Still, he added, "nonetheless, they highlight the importance of protecting the security of our elections system."

"Our No. 1 priority is working with Supervisors of Elections to enhance cybersecurity for our elections," Lee says in the release. "We stand together with our Supervisors of Elections against threats to elections. "

The Florida Department of State has invested $14.5 million in federal election security grants to county supervisors of elections since last year, according to DeSantis' office. The state has also provided supervisors of elections with $1.9 million in state funding to purchase and install ALBERT network monitoring sensors which can detect cyber threats.

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