Florida Secretary of State Laurel Lee is rejecting a call by a GOP state representative to hold ‘forensic audits’ of the 2020 election results in the five biggest counties in Florida.

What You Need To Know

  • The request for a forensic audit came from GOP state Rep. Anthony Sabatini

  • Donald Trump won Florida by 3.3 points in 2020, and took 55 of the state's 67 counties

  • GOP officials continue to call for audits in states that Trump lost in the 2020 election

  • More Politics headlines

“Florida’s election in 2020 was accurate, transparent and conducted in compliance with Florida law,” Lee told Spectrum News in a written statement on Wednesday. “Florida has already conducted both pre and post elections audits, and we are confident in the security and integrity of our 2020 election.”

Lee’s response is a rebuke to Central Florida state Rep. Anthony Sabatini, who on Monday called on her to initiate audits in Hillsborough, Miami-Dade, Broward, Palm Beach and Orange counties. Those are the five biggest counties in the state, and all five happened to have voted for Joe Biden for president last fall.

“There’s an enormous amount of people that are very concerned about the integrity of the elections,” Sabatini said on Wednesday, adding that he gets more calls, emails and texts about voting concerns than any other issue, including immigration. “Why not just do the audits? That way everybody can just say, ‘OK, good,’ now you can either prove that either everything did go well, or there were mistakes that were made and we’re going to fix those, too.”

While the most noted audit from the 2020 election continues to take place in Arizona’s Maricopa County by the third-party group Cyber Ninjas, supporters of former President Trump have been pushing for election reviews in other close states where Joe Biden prevailed last November, including Michigan, Georgia, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin.

Those requests for audits continue as polls show a majority of Republican voters question the legitimacy of last year’s presidential election. A Quinnipiac poll from late May showed exactly two-thirds of Republicans don’t believe that Biden won legitimately. 

“Having a process that people can trust the election after the fact is a good thing, and I don’t think that there’s anything wrong with inherently going back and making sure that there were no problems,” says Jake Hoffman, the president of the Tampa Bay Young Republicans. “Even if they’re just clerical errors, there shouldn’t be a controversial issue over the fact that we’re going to go back and we’re going to make sure that everything was right.”

Unlike the situation in Arizona where a third-party group whose experience in election audits has been questioned, Sabatini’s request was to have the state and the supervisor of elections in the five counties he requested oversee what he called a “forensic audit.”

Some election professionals are wary of that term, however, saying it automatically infers that there is something amiss in election results.

“It sounds scientific, but it’s actually kind of a shorthand for what could be a political exercise,” says Gregory Miller, the co-founder and COO of the OSET Institute, a Silicon Valley based organization that conducts research and development in election technology innovation.

He says that until these post-2020 presidential election efforts began to take place, the term “forensic audit” was not a common phrase for people in his industry.

“With 16 years of experience (at OSET) and four decades of technology experience behind me, I can say with certainly that’s not something that we heard much of,” Miller says. “There is a concept of a digital forensic analysis for computer hardware, and certain cyber security issues where you’re trying to trace back what has happened to discover how a hack occurred for example, right? But to bandy about that term forensic audit in this setting, presupposes that there is something criminal or something fraudulent.”

Sabatini says he was asking for an audit of Florida’s five biggest counties because it would be “more efficient” than a broader request, but said he wasn’t opposed to having the state review some smaller sized counties (of the remaining 62 counties not included in his request, Trump won 55 of them).

Here is the full statement sent by Florida Secretary of State Laurel Lee’s office to Spectrum News about the request for an audit of these five Florida counties:

“Florida’s election in 2020 was accurate, transparent, and conducted in compliance with Florida law.  Florida has already conducted both pre and post elections audits, and we are confident in the security and integrity of our 2020 election results.

Before each election, every county performs a Logic and Accuracy Test to ensure that ballots are printed correctly and that the voting system is counting votes correctly. This testing is publicly noticed and open to the public. See section 101.5612, Florida Statutes.

Further, after every election, each county must perform a post-election certification voting system audit unless there has been a manual recount conducted in that election. See section 101.591, Florida Statutes; Rule 1S-5.026, Florida Administrative Code. This testing is publicly noticed and open to the public. The post-election audit confirmed that Florida’s 2020 election was secure and accurate.

Governor DeSantis and Secretary Lee have made elections integrity a defining priority and a cornerstone of this administration.

At the Florida Department of State, we are committed to building voter confidence in our elections process by providing accurate information to the public.”