On Wednesday, Gov. Ron DeSantis ordered a sweeping review of Florida’s elections systems in a letter to Secretary of State Laurel Lee.
The letter follows the revelation that Russian hackers succeeded in breaching the elections systems of two Florida counties during the 2016 presidential election.
The review will assess the security of each of Florida’s 67 counties’ election systems and that of the state as a whole, focusing intensely on cybersecurity. Gov. DeSantis further stated that developing a plan to “identify and address any vulnerabilities” is to be considered a top priority for the Department of State.
The completed review will be submitted to the Executive Office of the Governor.
“Public faith in our elections is the bedrock of our democracy and we must do everything within our power to preserve the integrity of our elections systems,” Gov. DeSantis said. “While the breaches did not compromise the outcome of the 2016 election, nonetheless, they highlight the importance of protecting the security of our elections system.”
When the FBI confirmed the hack, it had Gov. DeSantis sign a nondisclosure agreement, which bars him from releasing the names of the counties.
Russian hackers targeted at least five Florida counties with virus-carrying “spearphishing” emails. Hillsborough, Pasco, Citrus, Clay and Volusia counties were known targets, each stating that they were able to avoid breach by either not opening the email or the link inside.
Last week, the Washington Post cited an anonymous official who revealed that Washington County was among the infiltrated databases. According to the Post, the Russian military spy agency, GRU, penetrated the small Panhandle county, whose population hovers around 25,000.