Florida Secretary of State Laurel M. Lee
Wednesday December 23, 2020
Contact: Mark Ard

Florida Secretary of State Laurel M. Lee Credits Governor DeSantis for Successful Election Year

TALLAHASSEE, FLA. In a year that included a presidential election cycle, the Florida Department of State successfully administered three safe, secure and orderly elections while carrying out its mission of preserving the state’s historical resources, sharing Florida’s rich cultural heritage, supporting libraries and archives research and contributing to a favorable business climate. The clear vision and decisive leadership from Governor Ron DeSantis paved the way for the Department of State to achieve these accomplishments.

“Governor DeSantis has prioritized elections security and integrity since taking office. His strategic investments in modernizing and strengthening our elections infrastructure made us stronger, and his executive orders on elections ensured we were prepared to meet any challenges we faced during the elections,” said Florida Secretary of State Laurel M. Lee. “The orderly, secure, and safe voting process Florida voters experienced in 2020 is a credit to his leadership. Building off of our successes this year, I look forward to advancing the Department’s mission even further in 2021.”

Some of the key accomplishments of the Florida Department of State in 2020 include:

2020 Election Year Highlights

Electronic Registration Information Center (ERIC) Membership

At the direction of Governor DeSantis, in 2019 Florida joined the Electronic Registration Information Center; a collaboration between 30 member states designed to increase voter registration and improve the accuracy of our voter rolls, reducing the potential for fraud. 

  • Statewide Voter Registration Campaign – Florida identified over 2.2 million potentially eligible but unregistered Florida voters. In its first ever statewide voter registration campaign, the Department of State mailed postcards in early September to all potentially eligible Floridians to encourage registration before the General Election 2020, and to provide information about voting options in Florida.
  • Voter Registration Increase – As a result of concerted efforts to reach unregistered voters and to encourage participation in elections, Florida experienced the highest voter registration numbers ever, with a 6.6% increase over the last year, totaling 14.4 million registered voters.
  • Protecting Voter Rolls – Florida took a proactive step to enhance the accuracy of the voter rolls. Through Florida’s membership in ERIC and in partnership with the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles, we are able to improve the accuracy of voter rolls by using driver license and state identification records, social security records, and voter records from other states to ensure Florida’s voter registration records are accurate and up to date.
Strengthening Cybersecurity and Elections Infrastructure
Through an unprecedented level of funding, collaboration, and strategic planning, Florida was able to secure the elections and provide confidence in the integrity our results.

  • Joint Election Security Initiative (JESI) – Launched in 2019 at the direction of Governor DeSantis, this unprecedented partnership between the Florida Department of State and all 67 Supervisors of Elections in Florida achieved its aim of assessing and strengthening the State of Florida’s cybersecurity and elections infrastructure ahead of the 2020 election cycle.
  • Office of Information Security –The Governor and the Legislature invested in our long term success by supporting and funding a dedicated Cyber Security Bureau at the Department of State with 10 full time positions. This Bureau protects all of the Department’s mission-critical systems, especially as it relates to elections, and will continue to provide cybersecurity support to Supervisors of Elections across the state.
  • Election Security Partners – Florida continued its mission critical partnerships with the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) and Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to ensure timely access to intelligence information and a coordinated response to any threats to physical or cybersecurity. Department leadership engaged in regular briefings with federal partners and collaborated with the FBI and CISA to provide training and prevention exercises for local elections officials.
  • Cybersecurity Education – The Department hired full time Cyber Navigators, who provided in-person and virtual cybersecurity training at the Department and for Supervisors of Elections and their staff across the state.
International Affairs
  • Affairs of State Returns to the Florida Department of State – With Governor DeSantis’s leadership, the Florida Legislature returned the Office of International Affairs to the Department of State. The Florida Department of State works closely with the Consular Corps to develop and foster diplomatic and cultural ties. The Department will host a Summit for the Consular Corps in 2021, and will develop the State Protocol Manual.
Legal Affairs
  • Successful Defense of Legal Challenges – While the 2020 election cycle saw armies of lawyers file dozens of lawsuits and hundreds of claims against Florida’s election laws, none succeeded.  The General Counsel’s Office defended the constitutionality of each and every provision of Florida law.  These important litigation results established or defended clear rules and timelines for the 2020 General Election.  These clear rules and timelines provided predictability and stability in the law.  And this predictability and stability contributed to a smooth election where more Floridians voted than ever before—and did so during a pandemic; Florida tallied its votes accurately and on time; there were no long lines; drop boxes were used for the first time statewide; and our election infrastructure remained secure. 
  • Executive Order 20-149 – Governor Ron DeSantis’ Executive Order ensured that local elections officials had the support they needed to administer elections during the pandemic, and that the voting process was secure and safe for voters and elections workers. The Executive Order lays out four innovative and practical solutions that ensured: increased time to canvass vote-by-mail ballots; administrative leave incentives for state employees to train and serve as poll workers; public schools to be used as potential polling locations; and that personal protective equipment was made available for counties in need.
  • Voters with Disabilities – Before the 2020 Primary Election, the Division of Elections tested and approved Democracy Live’s OmniBallot—an online software ballot delivery system application used to facilitate accessibility voting.  This certification expanded upon existing voting options for persons with disabilities to ensure compliance under the Americans with Disabilities Accessibility Act and the Florida Americans with Disabilities Implementation Act.
  • Spanish Language Outreach – To achieve the Department’s commitments of voter outreach and promotion, the State revised rules to ensure, for the first time, the availability of Spanish ballots and assistance at the polls in all 67 counties. The Department also ensured that voter assistance was available in English and Spanish, and that all voter outreach and education materials from the Department of State were produced in both English and Spanish – expanding our outreach and connection with Florida’s Spanish-speaking voters.
  • Voter Assistance – The Division of Elections staff fielded more than13,000 emails and 80,000 calls through the voter assistance hotline with almost 40% of those calls received in the 29 days between the General Election Book-closing on October 6th and Election Day on November 3rd. 
CARES Act Funding
  • Elections Administration During a Pandemic – Florida was awarded over $20.2M in CARES Act funding for election security. The Department of State made the entirety of the award available to the counties. To date, more than $15.1 million has been distributed to counties in a manner that best serves the individual county’s voter community, ensures the health, safety and well-being of voters and the election workforce, including poll workers, and provide for fair, accessible and secure elections. It is anticipated that the remainder of the funds will be provided to the counties as reimbursement for funds expended.


ed. press release continues on non-election related topics