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Contact: David Frady
[email protected]

Secretary of State Laurel M. Lee Issues Statement on Governor DeSantis’ State of the State Address

Tallahassee –

Under Governor Ron DeSantis’ bold leadership, Florida has more tools than ever to secure our elections, promote Florida’s rich cultural and historical resources, and promote Florida as the center of American creativity.

“For the first time in Florida’s history, the Department of State has statewide visibility over our election system following a comprehensive review of the election security infrastructure in all 67 counties. The department also has information-sharing agreements with all 67 Supervisors of Elections, full-time cybersecurity professionals dedicated to our elections system, and access to an electronic multi-state voter data information sharing system to keep voter rolls up to date,” said Secretary of State Laurel M. Lee. “Governor DeSantis is also enriching the lives of Florida families by giving the Department of State the tools we need to preserve and promote Florida’s world-class museums, art programs, and cultural resources.”

Some of the Department of State’s key accomplishments in 2019 include:

Election Security

Florida has made significant investments in election security and enhanced collaboration between the Florida Department of State and Florida’s 67 local Supervisors of Elections.

  • Joint Election Security Initiative  On May 22, 2019, Governor Ron DeSantis directed Secretary of State Laurel M. Lee to initiate a review of elections systems security throughout the state in order to ensure Florida’s elections infrastructure at the state and local level is protected.

The Department of State conducted a thorough elections-specific assessment in each county to evaluate potential weaknesses in Florida’s elections system. The department will continue to work with each Supervisor of Elections to address or mitigate any weaknesses or vulnerabilities prior to the 2020 elections.

The Joint Election Security Initiative (JESI) also established a framework for all 67 counties to carefully control access to sensitive and classified information within their offices while also allowing them to share sensitive information with the Florida Department of State regarding security policies and any attempted breaches that may happen in the future. JESI represents an unprecedented cooperative partnership with Supervisors of Elections to do even more to secure and protect the integrity of Florida’s elections.

  • Cyber Navigator Program – The Department of State hired five full-time Cyber Navigators to provide on-going cybersecurity support to County Supervisors of Elections’ offices under the Joint Elections Security Initiative. Governor DeSantis’ recommended budget for 2020 expands that program to ten full-time cybersecurity professionals.
  • Electronic Registration Information Center (ERIC) – Governor DeSantis directed the Florida Department of State to join ERIC, an information-sharing initiative between 30 states that will allow Florida to cross-check voter registration data with that of other member states. This unprecedented investment in voter outreach will increase participation in our elections by allowing supervisors of Elections to identify potentially eligible, but unregistered, voters and proactively send them information about how to register. ERIC will also facilitate Florida’s ongoing efforts to identify duplicate registrations, voters who have moved, and voters who have passed away. ERIC will be an invaluable tool for ensuring more accurate and current voter rolls while reducing the potential of fraud.

Promoting and Preserving Florida’s Rich Cultural and Historical Resources

 Military and Veterans Outreach

  • Creative Forces Program – The Division of Cultural Affairs (DCA) partnered with the National Endowment for the Arts, the U.S. Department of Defense, U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, veterans hospitals, Americans for the Arts, James Haley Veterans Hospital and the Straz Center for Performing Arts to expand Creative Forces, the NEA Military Healing Arts Network, which explores creative art therapies for veterans and their families. Of the eleven nationwide Creative Forces clinical sites, Florida is the only state with two: Tampa’s James A. Haley Veterans’ Hospital and Gainesville’s North Florida/South Georgia Veterans Health System.
  • Manasota Key Offshore Archaeological Site – The Bureau of Archaeological Research completed the first phase of archaeological research at the Manasota Key Offshore archaeological site, a 7,000-year-old prehistoric site in the Gulf of Mexico. This site and its landscape have the potential to shed significant light on some of Florida’s earliest inhabitants.
  • Risner Fine Art Collection – The Museum of Florida History completed the documentation of a significant collection of Florida landscapes (163 artworks) recently donated by Palm Beach County resident and art collector Ron Risner. The works show the diversity and beauty of Florida’s natural environment, span more than a century, and depict landscapes from the Panhandle to the Keys. This collection is presented to the public in a new exhibit, Florida Inspired—Landscapes from the Risner Fine Art Collection, that opened in November.
  • Black History Month and Hispanic Heritage Months Art Contests – The Florida Department of State assisted First Lady DeSantis with the selection of winning art in honor of Black History Month and Hispanic Heritage Month submitted by more than 400 of Florida’s schoolchildren. The Division of Cultural Affairs secured loans of paintings by the artists and displayed them at the Governor’s Mansion.

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