How Florida is preparing for threat of Russian hacking in 2020 election

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – Following the release of a U.S. Senate Intelligence report looking into Russian meddling in the 2016 election and a grave warning from Special Counsel Robert Mueller that the Russians are still attempting to interfere, Florida Congresswoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz has called on the president to take action to beef up election security. 

However, the state of Florida is taking action to prevent attacks on its own.

Mueller’s warning was blunt.

"It wasn't a single attempt. They're doing it as we sit here,” said Mueller.

Two Florida counties were hacked during the 2016 election, although no votes were changed.  

In response, Gov. Ron DeSantis ordered a comprehensive review of the state’s election systems.

Florida Secretary of State Laurel Lee introduced a group of Department of State employees to a training seminar on cybersecurity Thursday.

“All it takes is one person or one click of an email to make us more vulnerable,” said Lee.

The secretary said the training is part of the comprehensive approach the state is taking to prevent any breaches in the 2020 election.

“It is essential that all of our employees understand how to recognize suspicious emails or suspicious persons in and around our building and defend against those threats,” said Lee.

The governor also emphasized the important role local election supervisors have to play in beefing up security.

“We don't run the elections in Florida at the state level. The secretary of state has a role, but that is going to be done at the ground,” said DeSantis. “So part of the reason we wanted the review is just to help people identify some problems if any, and then we wanted to offer some support to be able to resolve it.”

Supervisors are receiving financial assistance from the state and federal government. 

A total of $5.1 million has so far been made available for the 2020 election.

The $5.1 million distributed comes after $19.2 million was made available for election security upgrades in 2018. 

More funds are expected to be allocated in the upcoming Legislative session, which begins in January.