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Should details of elections security breaches in Florida be kept from the public?

A bill in the Senate, allowing election officials to keep the inner workings of voting equipment confidential.
A bill in the Senate, allowing election officials to keep the inner workings of voting equipment confidential.

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – The 2020 election raised many concerns, prompting protests across the country as ballots were counted and recounted in various states.

The integrity of the election process was called into question repeatedly, often without evidence to back the claims.

Now, the Florida Legislature is reviewing the state’s elections process.

A proposal in the state Senate (SB 1704) would make it easier for local election officials to keep security about the voting machines, and information about any possible breaches, a secret.

The legislation would exempt certain records that involve the inner working of voting machines and the security measures in place from being subject to public records requests.

The bill, proposed by State Sen. Doug Broxson, R-Gulf Breeze, is being debated by the Senate and has some wondering about the necessity of keeping such information from the public.

“It’s to make sure we have voter security. And that’s exactly the intention,” Broxson said.

But in a published interview for the USA Network, Ben Wilcox of Integrity Florida, a watchdog group, cautioned against keeping that information secret.

“Shouldn’t the public know if there is a security breach,” Wilcox told the USA Network.

In 2015, there was an election security hack in Florida that involved several counties. The exact details of that have still not been made public, and that would still be the case under the new proposal.

“It’s a very complex world, and I’m not sure most of us would understand when we have been breached,” said State Sen. Dennis Baxley, a Republican from Ocala who sponsored a separate proposal for elections changes that would make changes to mail-in ballots.

If Broxson’s proposal passes, information about hacks would have to come from the state division of elections and not local supervisors.

Duval County Supervisor of Elections Mike Hogan said he supports the measure. He said the laws regarding releasing the information have already been in place for other agencies.

He said this just expands those regulations to local supervisors of elections. He said if there is a breach in security, information about that breach would have to come from police agencies, not his office.

About the Author:

Jim Piggott is the reporter to count on when it comes to city government and how it will affect the community.