Gov. DeSantis appoints judge to take over Florida's top election post

Laurel Lee replaced Secretary of State Michael Ertel

Gov. Ron DeSantis appointed Circuit Judge Laurel M. Lee to take over Florida's top election post.

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – Gov. Ron DeSantis is appointing a circuit judge to replace Mike Ertel, Florida's top election official who abruptly resigned last week.

DeSantis announced Monday that Laurel Lee will replace Secretary of State Michael Ertel. Ertel resigned last Thursday after the Tallahassee Democrat newspaper obtained photos from a 2005 party where he was dressed in blackface while posing as a Hurricane Katrina victim. The photo was taken several months after Ertel had become election supervisor for Seminole County.

Florida's Republican governor said he accepted Ertel's resignation to avoid getting "mired" in controversies. Last year, DeSantis defeated Democrat Andrew Gillum in a bitter race with racial overtones.

Lee has been a judge in Hillsborough County since 2013. She is married to State Sen. Tom Lee.

Laurel Lee has previously worked as both a federal prosecutor.