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The 13 states where election security matters most

Along with the candidates and the issues, the 2020 presidential election is also going to be about the voting process itself.

Russian efforts to hack into the voting systems of 2016 have boosted election security to a critical concern this time, prompting states to spend tens of millions buying new equipment, hiring cybersecurity wizards and installing software that warns of intrusions — among numerous other steps. More purchases of hardware, software and expertise are coming in the months ahead.

Whether enough money gets spent, and wisely, won't be known for sure until Nov. 3, 2020 — when the system will be subject to the one test that really matters. And whether the country decides the presidential election result is trustworthy will likely come down to how reliably things work in the relatively small number of states both nominees are contesting.

[Swing states build 2020 hacking protections: Will they hold?]

With 11 months to go, The Fulcrum reviewed information from state elections officials, the National Conference of State Legislatures, the Election Assistance Commission and news reports to get a sense of the election security landscape. Here's the state of play in the 13 states likeliest to be presidential battlegrounds.

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"There's a storm brewing in Florida in 2020 — it's not Republicans versus Democrats for the presidency," argues Jeffrey Solomon.

It’s time to let all voters vote in Florida

Solomon is a chiropractor, a former Miami-Dade Democratic Party organizer and an unsuccessful state legislative candidate in 2018.

I recently joined the 30 percent of Florida voters who declare themselves independents. I did it for the same reasons as most ex-partisan voters: I had reached my limit. I was sick and tired of inter-party political hypocrisy and deceptive leadership. Unlike many independents, though, I witnessed the partisan rot from the inside. For over a decade, I was a Democratic Party activist.

Last year, I was the party's nominee for an open seat in the Florida Legislature in a historically Republican district. My party wrote my race off and didn't invest a dime in my election. No Democrat had come close to winning the seat in a generation. I lost by just 290 votes, less than half of 1 percent of the total votes cast.

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Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis' request for $6.6 million in election security spending is expected to get a positive response from the Legislature.

Governor wants Florida to boost security spending ahead of the election

Gov. Ron DeSantis asked his fellow Republicans at the Florida statehouse on Wednesday to spend $6.6 million for election oversight and improved ballot security ahead of the next election.

The request was part of a comprehensive state budget submission delivered to the Legislature. It is significant because the reliability of Florida's elections will be particularly important next year. The state's 29 electoral votes are the third biggest prize in the presidential race and have been closely contested in every recent election — with a problematic history along the way.

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Putnam County Supervisor of Elections

Florida law requires that candidates who share party identification with the governor get listed first in every race on the ballot.

Judge in ‘donkey vote' case says party in power can’t cling to ballot's top line

This story was updated Nov. 19 with additional information.

Democratic candidates should get a shot at the most prominent spot on the ballot even in reliably red states, a federal judge has ruled in a setback for Republican efforts to hold on to that advantage in bellwether states across the country next year.

The decision came in a challenge to a Florida law mandating that candidates of the same party as the governor get listed first on the ballot.

That suit was among the first filed by Democrats as part of a campaign to challenge proposed 2020 election procedures in red states that have been trending toward purplish blue. Two weeks ago the party's national campaign organizations filed suits against similar ballot-primacy laws in Arizona, Georgia and Texas.

Those cases could be influenced by the precedent set down by federal Judge Mark Walker of Tallahassee, who held Florida's law unconstitutional on Friday.

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