Election security audit complete but details unclear

By Mike Vasilinda - Tallahassee Bureau Chief

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. - A security audit of all 67 Florida counties ordered by Gov. Ron DeSantis has been completed, but once a report is published, it's not going to advertise what problems were found. 

"The secretary, basically, reported to us they had visited all 67 counties already," said Okaloosa County Supervisor of Elections Paul Lux, who is the former president of the Florida State Association of Supervisors of Elections. "And they are in the process of producing a remediation report and we'll go from there."

Lux added he was not aware of how much remediation has been ordered.

DeSantis ordered the security audit in May after Special Counsel Robert Mueller's report said Russians successfully hacked two Florida counties in 2016. 

"There was no manipulation. It didn't have any effect," DeSantis said in May.

But he said the FBI would not let him name the counties, partly because the FBI said it would help the hackers learn how they were detected.

Lux and Leon County Supervisor of Elections Mark Earley were in Tallahassee Tuesday for a rule-development workshop about minimum security procedures for voting systems that was held by the Florida Department of State's Division of Elections.

"I think we are more ready than a lot of states," Lux said.

One of the biggest challenges supervisors said they're facing a year ahead of the 2020 election is hiring people to process petitions, thanks to a new law.

Since July, petition gatherers have been required to register with the state and turn petitions into supervisors within 30 days. It has required dozens of new hires.

"The law currently says we must be paid for those petitions, either 10 cents per petition or the actual cost, whichever is less. So guess which one is less," Lux said.

Supervisors are also sharing a $5 million grant to increase security. They plan to ask for more when lawmakers meet in January.

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