Senator Marco Rubio raises concerns over election security in Florida

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TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WJHG/WECP) - Election experts in the state are joining Senator Marco Rubio expressing concerns over the security of the state's election system.

Only seven counties in the state--including Bay County--have implemented rigorous auditing systems to ensure the validity of election results.

With only seven counties so far adding extra security measures, it means there are still sixty more counties in Florida that may be unprepared for possible threats to this year's election.

Leon County is one of the counties to upgrade its system by implementing additional auditing measures.

"It is very powerful in that it looks for problems in marking ballots," said Leon County Supervisor of Elections Mark Early.

With 60 counties in the state lacking a rigorous auditing system, experts say its unlikely most will be able to implement protections before the upcoming election cycle.

The additional measures aren't required by state law.

"I have to fault the Florida Legislature for failing to enact legislation that would require more use of this technology," said Ion Sancho, Former President of the Florida State Association of Supervisors of Elections.

The Governor asked to hire five cybersecurity experts in the 2018 budget, but the Legislature ignored the request.

"They're overconfident that they're okay and quite frankly that is hubris," said Sancho.

The Legislature did approve $1.9 million in federal funding to help counties purchase additional security equipment. However, author Eric Eggers with the Government Accountability Institute says it's not enough.

"No one is really incentivized to detect or expose election fraud because that undermines the very basis of our democratic ideals," said Eggers.

During the 2016 election, five Florida counties were unsuccessfully targeted by Russian hackers. Experts believe those attacks aren't likely to stop any time soon.

The Florida Department of State is working to hire additional cybersecurity personnel prior to the 2018 election, saying in a statement it is laser-focused on election security as we look ahead to the 2018 election and beyond.