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Homeland Security, Florida Prepare For Elections

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Jay Phagan
/
Wikimedia Commons

Cyber security is a top priority for Florida elections supervisors as they prepare for the upcoming primary and general elections.

Matt Masterson with the U.S. Department of Homeland Security met with state supervisors at their annual conference in Fort Lauderdale last week.  Masterson said foreign meddling in the 2016 presidential election underscored the need to protect future elections from cyber-attacks.

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He praised Florida’s efforts to harden its election systems. “Obviously elections’ infrastructure is in the national conversation in part because of what happened in 2016. Florida’s taking really important steps to help insure the resilience of the process,” Masterson said.

Homeland Security has designated the U.S. elections as “critical infrastructure,” which St. Johns County Elections Supervisor Vicky Oakes said provides resources not previously available.

“We have our own division now, election information— ISAC—and that allows us to receive any type and kinds of alerts and threats when there’s issues that we need to be aware of,” Oakes said, referring to the Multi-State Information Sharing & Analysis Center (MS-ISAC).

Governor Rick Scott recently earmarked $19 million in federal funding to bolster cyber security at local elections offices.

Oakes said the money earmarked for St. Johns County will be used to install what are called albert sensors, which can detect cyber intrusions and alert authorities.  She said the system should be good to go by July 1. Florida’s primary election is set for August 28 and the general election is November 6.

Contact reporter Cyd Hoskinson at choskinson@wjct.org, 904-358-6351 and on Twitter @cydwjctnews.

Photo used under Creative Commons license.