With Lee stepping down as Florida elections chief, DeSantis names Byrd as secretary of state

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis introduced Friday that state Rep. Cord Byrd will substitute Secretary of State Laurel Lee, a former circuit pass judgement on who helped steer Florida throughout the 2020 elections and is now stepping down after a little bit greater than 3 years in her put up.

Byrd, of Neptune Beach, is an legal professional and has served within the Florida House since 2016.

“Cord Byrd has been an ally of freedom and democracy in the Florida Legislature, and I am confident he will carry that mission forward as Secretary of State. I look forward to his successes ensuring Florida’s elections remain safe, secure and well-administered,” DeSantis’ mentioned in his announcement

The governor’s announcement integrated a observation from Byrd.

“As Secretary of State, I will make sure Florida continues to have secure elections and that we protect the freedom of our citizens in the face of big-tech censorship and ever-growing cybersecurity threats,” Byrd mentioned.


Election officers informed News4JAX that Byrd must renounce because the state consultant representing the eleventh district to fill the location of the state’s election leader. Already even though, there could be an election for his seat beginning with the principle in August after which the overall election in November.

Jerry Holland was once the manager of elections in Duval County and might be working for that place of job once more subsequent yr. He mentioned he’s noticed equivalent transitions within the secretary of state’s place of job when he ran native elections. He mentioned Byrd taking at the state position.

“As a constitutional lawyer, that is one that will be very versed on the election law, so I think you’ll be one that would be a good communicator,” Holland mentioned.

Byrd has revel in coping with election problems on a state degree. He used to be at the Public Integrity and Elections committee for his complete time within the House, together with two years because the committee’s vice chair.


Lee’s resignation is efficacious Monday and got here as Florida prepares for the Aug. 23 number one elections and the Nov. 8 basic election.

“Together, we protected and grew Florida’s competitive business climate, preserved Florida’s incredible historical resources, supported Florida’s arts and culture community, and strengthened Florida’s election systems,” Lee wrote Wednesday in a letter to DeSantis.

Lee has won a lot of her consideration for being Florida’s leader elections officer, a high-profile position in a state with a historical past of election controversies. But as head of the Department of State, she additionally oversees things like the Division of Corporations, the Division of Historical Resources and the Division of Library and Information Services.

The Florida Politics website online reported Thursday that Lee may run in newly redrawn Congressional District 15, a Republican-leaning district within the Tampa Bay area.


In her letter to DeSantis, Lee wrote, “I will continue to seek what’s best for the citizens of Florida and will always be proud of what we accomplished together. Thank you for the opportunity to be part of your team, and I look forward to what the future holds.”

In a observation, DeSantis spokeswoman Taryn Fenske mentioned Lee “helped ensure Florida had an efficient election in 2020, with accurate results. Further, during her tenure, the Department of State formed strong partnerships with federal agencies to make sure Florida received all possible federal resources that are available to prevent and respond to cyber threats on elections.”

DeSantis appointed Lee in January 2019 after his preliminary appointee, Mike Ertel, resigned following the discharge of pictures appearing him dressed in blackface greater than a decade previous. Lee, who’s married to former state Senate President Tom Lee, prior to now served as a Hillsborough County circuit pass judgement on.


State Rep. Anna Eskamani, D-Orlando, temporarily expressed considerations Thursday about who would substitute Lee.

“We should all be incredibly concerned on who DeSantis could appoint to this important elections position,” Eskamani tweeted. “The secretary of state also leads FL’s Arts & Culture programs, among other things.”

Many states had debatable 2020 elections, as former President Donald Trump and his supporters filed proceedings and driven for recounts after Trump misplaced. But Florida had slightly few issues, with DeSantis announcing it had vanquished the “ghost” of the 2000 presidential recount and different well-documented election issues. He later mentioned Florida held the “smoothest and most successful election of any state” in 2020 however that it couldn’t “rest on our laurels.”

Since then, Republican lawmakers and DeSantis have enacted a sequence of measures that Democrats, civil rights and balloting rights teams argue make it more difficult for Black and Hispanic Floridians to sign up and vote. A invoice handed this yr drew heavy scrutiny, no less than partially as it created an place of job within the Department of State to research alleged balloting irregularities.


The state is also embroiled in prison battles a couple of congressional redistricting plan that DeSantis driven throughout the Legislature remaining month. As the manager elections officer, Lee is a defendant in the ones proceedings, which come with allegations that the plan unconstitutionally reduces the choice of districts prone to elect Black representatives.

News4JAX checked with other people on the Duval County Supervisor of Elections Office, they usually imagine Lee’s resignation won’t have an enormous affect although new election measures might be getting into play.

News4JAX additionally reached out to Lee for remark past her resignation letter and has no longer heard again from her place of job.

News Service of Florida/Copyright 2022 through WJXT News4JAX – All rights reserved.

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