TALLAHASSEE, Fla. -- Florida lawmakers on Thursday approved $19 million in federal cybersecurity funds to be allocated to the state's 67 county election supervisors, providing an added boost to efforts to fend off election system hacking attempts.

  • Secretary of State Ken Detzner requested cybersecurity funds
  • Money will go to Florida's 67 counties
  • Florida primary election is Aug. 28

The action by the Legislative Budget Commission was requested by Secretary of State Ken Detzner, who initially refused the federal assistance because the Florida Legislature -- which adjourned its annual session months ago -- wouldn't be able to formally appropriate the funds.

Detzner was ultimately overruled by his boss, Gov. Rick Scott, and the extraordinary action by the commission will help counties harden their election infrastructure ahead of this year's contests, which begin with the primary election on Aug. 28.

"We developed a budget -- you have to do those things in government -- and at that time, then, the governor directed me, and I thank him for doing that, to expedite the process, which we've done," Detzner said Thursday. "It's obvious that the supervisors responded in a timely way and there's plenty of time to implement these new upgrades to any kind of software or hardware or firewalls."

Federal intelligence agencies have assessed that Russian hackers are redoubling their efforts at infiltrating U.S. election systems in 2018. 

Florida emerged as a prime target in 2016: Detzner testified before the commission that federal officials told his department last September that hackers had attempted to compromise the state's election infrastructure in the run-up to the presidential election.

But, Detzner said, the state's cyberesecurity defenses prevented hackers from accessing the election systems.

"We are committed to the voters of Florida, to the legislature, to ourselves, that we are going to have a secure election," Detzer said. "None of this is predictable, but you have to put in place the necessary precautions, the necessary services, the necessary partnerships, to make sure that you're communicating."