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A Judeo-Christian Grassroots Organization | The Republican Wing of the Republican Party | Founded in 1935
P.O. Box 194, Ormond Beach, Florida 32175
Direct: (321) 228-2800 or (386) 871-1533 | Website: www.FloridaRepublicanAssembly.com
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE ON JANUARY 9, 2024
Contact: Lou Marin, FRA Executive Vice President
Phone: (321) 228-2800 | Email: Typhoonlou@gmail.com
RE: FLORIDA REPUBLICAN ASSEMBLY (FRA) Second Call for Florida Secretary of State Cord Byrd and Maria Matthews’ RESIGNATION
Tallahassee – The Florida Secretary of State, Division of Elections, has violated Florida Statute 101.015 section 7 in not keeping our voting system certification standards up to date. The statute clearly states that the Division of Elections SHALL review, update, and ensure that new technologies are appropriately certified for all elections in a timely manner. Currently, they are using outdated 19-year-old standards and protocols dated from 2005 to certify elections, which leaves voters and elections unprotected as well as vulnerable to cybersecurity attacks. Moreover, the Florida Secretary of State, Division of Elections, has failed to address and mitigate risks that were identified by the Florida Auditor General who issued numerous reports from 2006 to the present. Most of the findings since 2006 repeat because they are being ignored.
The State Cybersecurity Act, FS282.318 requires all breaches to be reported, classified, and investigated. In the latest Auditor General Report No. 2024-076 from Dec 2023, 393 data breaches were reported state wide, however none were reported from the Department of State. When this is considered alongside the blatant disregard of the Auditor General findings for over last two decades, there appears to a complete lack of interest in following state and federal law when it comes to securing our elections. The Florida Department of State led by Secretary of State Cord Byrd has grossly failed to respond to these reports by mitigating the risk associated with the requirements of the federal law. The latest report can be reviewed here from January of 2021.
Regarding federal law violations, The Help America Vote Act (HAVA), provides resources to Secretaries of State on an annual basis to keep and maintain election equipment and cybersecurity standards current. The law clearly lays out the penalty for non-compliance. Currently, Florida taxpayers are at risk of approximately $40,000,000 for HAVA non-compliance as cited by the Florida Inspector General Reports.
FRA has investigated cyber security threats to election systems and consulted with Clay Parikh, one of the foremost experts in the United States regarding election systems cyber security and who was involved in testing seven (7) different election system vendors over the nine (9) years he worked at federally recognized testing facilities. One of the greatest threats to our election systems is unauthorized access by employees at both the state and local county level election offices. The latest report (hyperlink above) clearly sets forth the failure of audit trails at every level of the Department of Elections. Audit trails allow for all changes to the voter records, changes to voting system configurations, and software changes to election systems and databases to be traced to an individual employee. This is a clear cyber security failure.
The testimony on December 7, 2023, by Secretary of State Cord Byrd and Division of Elections Director Maria Matthews as “certification experts” when they have no certifications or credentials in election cyber security is a misrepresentation, at the very least. Video: Florida Secretary of State admits Florida Division of Elections have NO cyber security experts. In addition, they openly admitted to the Florida House of Representatives Ethics Committee that they have no certification experts in the office, which violates Florida Statute 282.318 “State Cybersecurity Act.”
Secretary Byrd and Division of Elections Director Maria Matthews have clearly violated their oath of office and constitutional duties by delegating their responsibility to vendors and corporations while requiring NO cyber security oversight. They have failed to keep up with current technology in maintaining our security standards, protocols, and protecting Floridians’ most sacred right, which is our First Amendment. This incompetent behavior, blatant disregard for the law, and dereliction to duty warrants nothing less than the immediate resignations and replacement of Cord Byrd and Maria Matthews. But MOST IMPORTANTLY, The Florida State Cyber Security standards are not being applied to the Department of State Election systems as required by Florida Statute 282.318. The Florida Department of Elections is not exempt from that statute.
In closing, records further indicate the Florida Secretary of State and Division of Elections have a nearly 20-year history of NOT complying with Florida and Federal cybersecurity statutes, which has been well documented by the Florida Auditor General office. Moreover, the Florida Secretary of State office desperately needs a complete restructuring with modern day standards, and re-establish that cabinet position per Florida’s founding constitution as well as other positions that make them accountable to Floridian voters. Note: This was attempted in 2017 but died in the senate.
Lastly, this is a bipartisan issue that needs to be addressed immediately. Therefore, FRA calls on Governor DeSantis to investigate these gross violations. We also call on Governor DeSantis to suspend and warehouse all election equipment indefinitely due to outdated standards and protocols pending investigation and alternatively implement invisible watermarked serialized ballots, subject to hand count procedures immediately. To continue to conduct and certify elections with 19-year-old standards is illegal as well as irresponsible. Additionally, it violates ALL Florida officer’s oath of office, and is subject to lawsuits.