Editorials

Which counties were hacked in the 2016 elections, Gov. DeSantis? It’s wrong to keep them secret

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis says that though hackers got into the voting systems of two undisclosed counties, no votes were manipulated.
Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis says that though hackers got into the voting systems of two undisclosed counties, no votes were manipulated. Getty Images

Months after we first heard about it from now former Sen. Bill Nelson, and then Sen. Marco Rubio, and then the Mueller report, it has finally been officially confirmed — by Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis: The voter databases of two Florida counties were successfully hacked before the 2016 elections.

That’s shocking news in itself. More shocking is that DeSantis refuses to publicly identify the counties affected, saying the FBI and the Department of Homeland Security told him to keep the counties secret and asked him sign a non-disclosure agreement.

We don’t think the feds should have put the governor in this position, nor should he have agreed.

Howard Simon, former executive director of the ACLU of Florida, told the Editorial Board that he can’t recall ever seeing a high-ranking state official withhold such vital information from the public on such grounds.

If, as the governor says, the hacking failed and did not affect the outcome of any race, why can’t we know what the intruders tried to do?

Why can’t we know what weakness the hackers detected in Florida’s voting system in those two counties? The point of entry might exist elsewhere in the state.

And why can’t we know what is being done to fix that weakness?

According to DeSantis, the two counties’ election supervisors have been notified. Miami-Dade and Broward election officials say they have not been contacted by the feds.

Some anti-Trump theorists say the non-disclosure agreement sounds like a Trump administration ploy to continue to downplay Russian meddling during the most recent presidential elections. Trump was an early supporter of DeSantis for Florida governor. We hope DeSantis is not returning the favor at the expense of the people he is in office to serve. The governor says that he “would be willing” to name the counties affected, but for the agreement he signed. Again, it sounds as if the non-disclosure agreement could be cover for DeSantis to hide behind.

Not so long ago, we would have reminded Florida’s elected leader of the sanctity of our democracy’s election process. Unfortunately, Republicans in Florida — and across the nation — are intent on snuffing out that precious right of Americans they don’t deem worthy of a vote. Their voter-suppression tactics from Florida to Georgia to Ohio to Colorado and Maine are an outrage, racist and anti-American.

Therefore, there is no reason for Floridians to blindly hand over their trust to any official who won’t protect their ability to vote in secure elections. Such is the case now.

Depending upon how federal agents relayed the hacking information to the governor, he might be in violation of Florida’s Sunshine Laws, which guarantee the public the right to know exactly how the government is acting — or failing to act — on its behalf.

Floridians need to know what counties were hacked in 2016 and how the potential for it to happen again, statewide, will be thwarted.

Voters have every right to ask: Whose side is the governor on?

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