For Immediate Release
Monday, January 9, 2023
Contact: Mark Ard
PRESS RELEASE: In 2022, Florida Again Showed the Nation how to Count Votes, Fairly, Lawfully and on Time
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. –
Secretary of State Cord Byrd today thanked Governor Ron DeSantis for his unwavering support of ensuring Florida’s election security and integrity and for his commitment to enhancing the quality of life for all Floridians during the 2022 calendar year and election cycle. While states like Arizona and California were still counting ballots weeks after the November General Election, Florida was able to meet all of its vote counting responsibilities timely and lawfully – essential must-haves for a republic, and for ensuring voters that elections were fair and the results are transparent.
Through Governor DeSantis’ leadership, the Florida Department of State has also been able to carry out its mission of preserving the state’s historical resources, sharing Florida’s rich cultural heritage, supporting libraries and archives research and contributing to a favorable business climate.
“During this election year, Governor DeSantis once again ensured that Florida’s elections are the gold standard for the nation, despite the challenges caused by two major hurricanes,” said Secretary of State Cord Byrd. “Governor DeSantis’ leadership and vision have once again led the way for the Department to support critical programs statewide that affect the lives of Floridians and Florida business owners in positive ways.”
The top ten accomplishments of the Florida Department of State in 2022 include:
Building on Florida’s Election Integrity
Ensuring Integrity in Florida Elections
The Governor has made elections integrity and the enforcement of elections laws a top priority. To achieve this, the state has made significant investments to ensure we have the technology, infrastructure and resources to conduct efficient and secure elections, including the creation of the Office of Election Crimes and Security. The Office of Election Crimes and Security provides the necessary resources and specialization to guarantee that both Florida’s voting infrastructure and votes cast remain secure, and that perpetrators of elections-related crimes are investigated and, where appropriate, prosecuted.
Ensure Secure, Accurate, and Transparent Elections
After Governor DeSantis appointed Secretary Byrd in May 2022, Secretary Byrd and staff from the Department of State visited all 67 counties to confirm their offices had the resources needed to conduct secure, accurate and transparent elections. Despite the destruction caused by two major hurricanes devastating the state during the election cycle, Florida Supervisors of Elections certified their vote returns in advance of the statutory deadline, and Florida certified its election while other states were still awaiting results.
- Specifically for Hurricane Ian, Secretary Byrd and the Division of Elections leadership conducted continuous outreach and assessed the needs and readiness of counties in or around Hurricane Ian’s path, including: Charlotte, Citrus, Collier, DeSoto, Dixie, Flagler, Gilchrist, Hardee, Hernando, Highlands, Hillsborough, Lafayette, Lake, Lee, Levy, Manatee, Orange, Osceola, Pasco, Pinellas, Polk, Putnam, Sarasota, Seminole, St. Johns, Taylor, and Volusia counties. Secretary Byrd also personally visited the hardest hit areas, including Charlotte, Collier, DeSoto, Lee, Hardee, and Sarasota counties to meet with their Supervisors of Elections in-person.
Supporting Florida’s International Trade and Cultural Relations
Supporting Florida’s International Partnerships
Florida is home to one of the largest groups of consular missions and foreign trade offices in the United States. The Division of Arts and Culture’s Office of International Affairs convened a summit for Florida’s consular corps in Coral Gables titled “Connected in Business, United in Culture,” designed to encourage economic and cultural development opportunities and international trade. The summit, held in July 2022, brought together more than 100 representatives of foreign consulates and trade organizations for panels addressing emergency management, education, highway safety, business and trade.
Strengthening Economic and Cultural Ties with Japan
The Division of Arts and Culture’s Office of International Affairs curated cultural activities for the 44th Annual Southeast U.S./Japan Association Joint Meeting held in Orlando, in addition to ensuring international protocol was carefully followed. The meeting featured more than 70 representatives from Japan and 240 representatives from Florida, Georgia, Alabama, Mississippi, Tennessee, North Carolina, and South Carolina, with more than 100 representatives from Florida alone.
Supporting Florida’s Favorable Business Climate
The Florida Department of State, Division of Corporations, continues to support the growing number of thriving businesses in our state by timely and efficiently processing record numbers of new business filings. The Division saw over 500,000 new business entities formed in 2022. Over the past year, more than 53,000 out-of-state businesses have qualified to conduct business in Florida, as well as more than 90,000 new for-profit Florida corporations and almost 14,000 not-for-profit corporations.
Supporting Florida’s Arts and Culture
On July 13, 2022, National Statuary Hall at the United States Capitol unveiled a monumental marble sculpture of Dr. Mary McLeod Bethune as one of Florida’s two contributions to the collection. Chosen to create the statue by the Florida Council on Arts and Culture, Florida resident Nilda Comas is the first artist of Puerto Rican descent commissioned to sculpt a statue for the National Statuary Hall Collection. Dr. Bethune was an educator, civil rights activist and presidential advisor and is the first Black to be represented in the National Statuary Hall Collection.
Identifying and Preserving Florida’s History
Identifying and Highlighting African American Contributions
The Florida Department of State, Division of Historical Resources collaborated with the Division of Arts and Culture to develop and implement the African American Cultural and Historical Grant Program. Over 150 applications were reviewed at a three-day public meeting held in February 2022. Legislative funding of just over $60 million will allow the Department to fund 118 grant projects throughout the state that highlight the contributions, culture, and history of Blacks in Florida.
Identifying Florida’s Historic Structures
The Division completed seven county-wide historic structures surveys for Calhoun, Franklin, Gadsden, Gulf, Liberty, Jackson, and Wakulla Counties. Cultural resource professionals recorded more than 15,000 additional structures 50+ years old and evaluated them for eligibility to the National Register of Historic Places. These surveys were funded by federal disaster assistance funds associated with Hurricane Michael and will help to expedite FEMA and other agency reviews in the future and provide a better understanding of impacts to historically significant structures and districts in rural and underserved communities.
Preserving and Making Available Florida’s Historical Records
Documenting Florida’s National Contributions
The Florida Department of State, Division of Library and Information Services acquired and made available for research a new collection of Dr. Mary McLeod Bethune Statuary Fund Records, 2019-2022, documenting Florida’s addition to National Statuary Hall including the sculpting, installation and unveiling of the Dr. Mary McLeod Bethune statue from its creation in Pietrasanta, Italy, to its final location in the National Statuary Hall in Washington, D.C.
Expanding Educational and Research Resources
Additionally, the Division of Library and Information Services expanded educational and research resources by adding Territorial Legislative Council Session Records, 1822-1845. The project preserves and makes accessible to the public the permanent historic government records which offer an insight into our state’s diverse heritage and history and supplies valuable information for historians, genealogists, teachers and students. The collection contains more than 3,000 records documenting the work of Florida's territorial legislators from their first meeting in Pensacola in 1822 to their final meeting in Tallahassee in 1845, after which a new state government took control of Florida's affairs. The records include drafts of bills and resolutions, committee reports, petitions from citizens and correspondence with officials from the executive branch.
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