As President Trump kicks off his reelection campaign tonight in Orlando with somewhere between 70,000 and 100,000 people, Gov. Ron DeSantis is announcing that Florida is spending more money on securing its voting systems across 67 counties.
As the largest swing state, and one which twice now decided the presidency in very close elections with questionable voting systems — including those ripe for tampering in places like Broward and Palm Beach counties — DeSantis is moving $2.3 million toward election security. The money comes from a large federal grant of $19 million that was provided last year to protect from cyber security attacks.
DeSantis met with FBI officials last month and they confirmed that Russian hackers had broken in and gained access to voter data in two Florida counties during the 2016 election, but that the results had not been manipulated.
“As I’ve said previously, the issue of cyber is not going away,” DeSantis said. “We want to make sure they have resources, so we’re taking the issue seriously … we’ve got 67 different elections that are run and not every county has the same amount of resources.”
Further, Florida lawmakers also approved $2.8 million for more election security in the state budget that DeSantis will likely sign this week — bringing the total to more than $5 million before the 2020 presidential votes are cast.
This is relevant for many reasons. Conservatives always fear shenanigans in the big, Democrat-run counties of Southeastern Florida because it has happened repeatedly. But also, the reality is that Russia, China and Iran have incentives to meddle in the election to defeat Trump.
His Make America Great Again, America First doctrine has clearly resulted in substantial pushback on the ambitions of Russia, China and Iran in regional and global hegemony. Any Democrat in the field will go much easier on all three of them, just as President Obama did. They are fully aware of that.
Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s report earlier this year on Russian interference identified “spearfishing” emails that were sent to more than 120 email accounts connected to Florida election officials, plus employees of election technology vendors, before the 2016 election. The goal of those is to gain access by getting just one person to click on an attachment, which can then plant software that allows a backdoor for hackers.
It’s no surprise that of all the states, it was Florida’s election system targeted and successfully hacked. While there is no partisanship in DeSantis’ moves to beef up security, it undoubtedly redounds to Trump’s benefit as he has the most to lose in an election hacked by foreign entities or diddled with by local election officials.
Rod Thomson is an author, past Salem radio host, ABC TV commentator, former journalist and is Founder of The Revolutionary Act.
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