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Leon is partnering with the Florida Department of State to counter election disinformation

Warehouse with tables and voting bags and ballots on top, ready for election day
Steven Rodriguez
WFSU Public Media
Leon County’s Voting Operations Center, where votes are counted after election day.

Florida elections officials are trying to counter trust issues with a voter education campaign called #TrustedInfo2022. A November 2021 PBS/Marist poll found that 62% of respondents say they trust elections, yet less than a third of Republicans agreed. The poll was taken following the contentious 2020 presidential cycle which saw former President Donald Trump make baseless claims about a stolen election.

Long before Trump, trust in elections had been shaky and for years, foreign countries have tried to influence the outcome. During the 2016 Presidential cycle, Russia attempted to access voter registration databases across the country, including Florida. That led to hundreds of millions of dollars in cybersecurity upgrades to voter registration and data systems.

Leon Supervisor Mark Earley notes the nation’s elections are run at a county-by-county, and state-by-state level, which makes it harder for bad actors to manipulate results, but it also makes it easy for disinformation and skepticism to take root.

“It’s hard for the common voter to understand the deep intricacies of statutes and safeguards. So, we’re trying to provide a way for voters to learn more,” he said of the #TrustedInfo2022 campaign.

Despite carrying off its best election cycle in years, Florida has not been immune from election disinformation claims. Baseless accusations of a stolen election prompted the state’s Republican leaders to pass a series of laws making it harder for people to vote. Much of that legislation is tied up in the courts.

“I think it’s very clear where the trust in information resides and what parts of this larger story should be looked at with contempt, and what parts should be trusted. And I think it’s the locally elected officials [who should be trusted],” said Earley.

The trust campaign is backed by Florida Secretary of State Laurel Lee, the National Association of Secretaries of State and the Florida Supervisors of Elections. It’s meant to connect voters with local resources and advance understanding of how elections work in Florida, locally and at the national level. Leon's election office has a site, LeonVotes.gov/Trust which includes detailed breakdowns of nearly every aspect of voting—from how machines are tested, to how audits are conducted and poll watchers are vetted.

Follow @HatterLynn

Lynn Hatter is a Florida A&M University graduate with a bachelor’s degree in journalism. Lynn has served as reporter/producer for WFSU since 2007 with education and health care issues as her key coverage areas.  She is an award-winning member of the Capital Press Corps and has participated in the NPR Kaiser Health News Reporting Partnership and NPR Education Initiative. 

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