November 12, 2019

Press Release

DHS, FBI: No new or ongoing elections breach

Florida's Department of State reiterates how much election security is in place

| 8/21/2018

The Florida Department of State has received a response from Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security and Director Christopher Wray of the Federal Bureau of Investigation. Please see the below statement from the Florida Department of State following receipt of this letter.

“When Senator Bill Nelson made unsubstantiated claims that ‘Russians are in Florida’s election records,’ the Department began aggressively pursuing answers and immediately reached out to the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS), the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and the Florida Department of Law Enforcement (FDLE). None of these agencies had information to corroborate Senator Nelson’s claims.

“Secretary Detzner then sent a letter to the Chairman of the U.S. Senate Select Committee on Intelligence who also did not confirm Senator Nelson’s claims and advised us to continue working with DHS and the FBI.

“As the Chairman recommended, Secretary Detzner sent a letter to DHS and the FBI and we have now received their response (see letter attached) which continues to offer no evidence or information to corroborate Senator Nelson’s claims. Secretary Nielsen and Director Wray are very clear in their response that ‘…we have not seen any new or ongoing compromises of state or local election infrastructure in Florida...’ The letter also made clear that, ‘DHS and the FBI will continue to notify any victim of a successful cyber intrusion into their election network in any jurisdiction nationwide.’

“Last week, prior to receiving this response from DHS and the FBI, Secretary Detzner and the President of the Florida State Association of Supervisors of Elections, a bi-partisan association of Florida’s independent and locally-elected Supervisors of Elections, reached out directly to Senator Nelson, but so far we have received zero response from him.”

Additional information on steps taken to secure elections is below:

The Florida Department of State works with the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the Florida Department of Law Enforcement, the Florida Agency for State Technology, the Florida National Guard and the Multi-State Information Sharing and Analysis Center on election security.  

At the Governor’s direction, the Department hired five cyber security specialists to assist state and local election officials with election security (see press release here).

The Department has state-of-the-art hardware, software and firewalls in place to safeguard voter information in the Florida Voter Registration System and we have systems in place that are constantly analyzing and flagging potential suspicious activity. The Department is constantly enhancing security measures for our elections websites.  

The Department has also been working diligently with Supervisors of Elections to help Florida counties modernize their voting systems. More than two-thirds of Florida counties have completed a voting equipment modernization and the majority of the remaining counties are in the process of completing a modernization or upgrade.

State and local election officials are investing millions of dollars in election security. Counties are utilizing $1.9 million in funding to purchase a network monitoring security solution that provides automated alerts about system threats. At the Governor’s direction, the Department drew down more than $19 million in federal funding for election security (see press release here). Local Supervisors of Elections are using more than $14.5 million of that funding to make significant investments in election security prior to the 2018 elections (see press release here).

The Department also recently partnered with the University of West Florida Center for Cybersecurity to provide cybersecurity trainings for state and local election officials to enhance cybersecurity resiliency ahead of the 2018 elections (see article here).

Additionally, all voting in Florida is done by paper ballot so we can always refer to the original paper ballot. The only exception in law allows voters with disabilities the option to vote on accessible devices, but even this option will require a paper record under Florida law by 2020.

Tags: Government/Politics & Law, Election 2018

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