Naples Daily News by Jeffrey Schweers, Tallahassee Democrat
February 25, 2020
Florida’s March 17 presidential primary will be a referendum on state and county elections officials’ efforts to build a wall to stop hacking attempts that are constantly bombarding the system.
At a time when 59 percent of the public doesn’t trust the election process, state elections officials have thrown a veil of secrecy over that work, refusing to disclose details about the weaknesses detected in their systems and whether they’ve been fixed.
Florida has doubled down on secrecy since federal officials reported at least four counties were hacked in 2016. The state forced all 67 elections supervisors to sign nondisclosure agreements before they could receive federal funding for elections security, be briefed about vulnerabilities found by cybersecurity experts or even hook up to the state’s voter registration system.
“It just felt coerced,” said Polk County Supervisor of Elections Lori Edwards, a former member of the Legislature. “We have a broad public records law for a reason, so having to sign a nondisclosure agreement didn’t sit well with me … not only to receive funds, but information too.”
The far-reaching confidentiality pacts, including a nondisclosure agreement that public records experts call bizarre and unenforceable, threaten to make a casualty out of transparency in the Sunshine State.