07/20/18: Gubernatorial Race And Keeping Elections Secure

Jul 20, 2018

Five Democrats and two Republicans are racing ahead toward the August 28 primary, hoping to become the state’s next governor. Normally midterm elections are sleepy - but voters are paying closer attention this political season.

Meanwhile, Florida lawmakers approved using a $19 million federal grant to improve the state’s election security.

The Race For Governor

Absentee ballots will go out soon and the Florida primary is just over a month away.

Earlier this week the five Democrats running for governor met on a debate stage in Fort Myers.

At the same time, the two Republicans in the race scrapped plans to meet for a debate, when one of them, Congressman Ron DeSantis, decided to do an appearance with Donald Trump Junior in Longwood, Fla. rather than debate his opponent, Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam.

A.G. Gancarski of Florida Politics is following the governor’s race closely and joined us for a discussion.

Keeping Florida’s Elections Secure

Florida now has a big infusion of federal money to help ensure votes are secure. This week the state accepted $19 million from the federal government to increase election security.

It’s up to county election supervisors how to spend the money by November. Each county in the state will get at least $50 thousand. If the counties don’t spend the money by November, it could go back to the state.

That’s a timeline some complain is just too tight.  But Florida Secretary of State Ken Detzner said he’s just following the strings attached to the money.

“We’re following the guidelines put out from the Elections Assistance Commission and their general guidelines for what is an appropriate expenditure of money and we tried to do that with some flexibility.  We’ve been talking about this for a year and a half. Supervisors did surveys about what their vulnerabilities were, and they well should know what they can use the money for to secure their elections,” said Detzner.

The League of Women Voters of Florida wants the spending deadline extended to December.

The money comes as Florida has been targeted by election hackers. A Tallahassee-based election firm was targeted by Russian hackers in 2016 as part of that country’s efforts to influence the presidential campaign.

Florida is one of the 18 most vulnerable states to election hacking according to a report from the Democratic members of the Committee on House Administration -- a Congressional committee that oversees federal elections.

Chris Chambless is the Clay County Supervisor of Elections and joined us at WJCT in Jacksonville along with Gancarski.