Florida a likely target for foreign influence in 2020 election

Published in August 4, 2019 TCPalm

Florida could be ground zero for the Russians and other foreign actors seeking to create chaos and conflict on Election Day 2020.

Florida has the most electoral votes (29) of any contested state in the country. Also, we already have a reputation as the state where election nights end in confusion and controversy.

On July 25, the Republican-led Senate Intelligence Committee reported that foreign actors had targeted all 50 states for election interference in 2016, and were well underway in their efforts to do even more damage in 2020.

These actors will attempt to alter the results in thousands of voting districts. The committee called on states to “take urgent steps to replace outdated and vulnerable voting systems.”

Rather than heed these warnings, Republican Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell instead committed a stunning act of irresponsibility by blocking a House-passed bill that would authorize $775 million to shore up state election systems. Republican leadership said enough has already been done. Really?

The Associated Press found that many of the 10,000 election jurisdictions nationwide use outdated operating systems to create their ballots, program voting machines, tally the votes and report counts.

State election officials “are anxious and underfunded, some running systems with outdated software and scrounging for replacement parts off eBay.”

Sadly, we cannot even depend on our president to defend our country and Constitution from enemies foreign and domestic. Trump sides with Russian President Vladimir Putin over our own intelligence agencies, and several of his 2016 campaign officials have been convicted of lying to cover up their dealings with foreign adversaries.

U.S. Sen. Rick Scott, R-Florida, is absent, per usual. Gov. Ron DeSantis announced training programs for election officials. That’s not a fair match against highly trained Russian military cyber-subversives.

Florida, I fear we are headed for an election nightmare.


Richard Leonard, Vero Beach