WHY I AM RUNNING
ELECTION INTEGRITY MATTERS!
The freedom and right to vote is one of our most sacred liberties, and with it, comes great responsibility. Our freedom comes at a cost which has been paid by those who fought and died to protect our Constitutional Republic. As the “informed electorate”, we have the awesome responsibility of selecting our future leaders by casting our ballots to help shape our communities, state, and nation. Your vote ensures that our government is “of the people, by the people, for the people.”
The Supervisor of Elections is responsible for maintaining and safeguarding our county voting systems. This includes ensuring unequivocal accuracy of voter rolls, voter equipment, and election results.
For the past two elections I recruited, trained, and organized poll watchers (volunteer official observers) to watch, listen, and report any irregularities during elections operations. Incidents were reported to my team and our roving attorneys alerted the supervisor of the infractions. That experience revealed voter suppression, voter fraud, voter registration irregularities, refusal to follow election law, and unfair voter practices.
Over the years, a common complaint that we have encountered when talking to voters across Polk County has been about their voter registration. Further investigation has revealed systemic issues. Hyphenated names when women get married has caused some to have duplicate records. Changes made to voters’ drivers licenses at the DMV have resulted in party affiliation changes without the voter’s knowledge and permission. Delays in processing new voter registrations and party change registrations have caused the voter rolls to be inaccurate resulting in voters being denied the eligibility to vote in primary elections.
Poll workers need additional training to ensure the integrity of, and confidence in, sound, legal in-person elections. A poll worker should never be inside a voting booth alone while assisting a voter. There are strict guidelines regarding how a voter requests and receives assistance with voting. Still, the assistance is provided by TWO poll workers, never one. A poll worker was in violation of this law. It was reported and he was removed. How many ballots were affected? Was he held criminally responsible? Will he be able to work as a poll worker again in the future?
Voter integrity requires transparency. We received reports from several poll watchers that they were not allowed to observe how workers were manipulating tabulation machines. Prior to the opening of the poll, before the first ballot is cast, poll watchers are, by law, allowed to observe the empty tabulation machine and see that the ballot number is starting at zero. At another polling location, a tabulation machine became jammed and workers manipulated the machine and inserted ballots manually. This introduced confusion around the tabulation machine counts balancing with the number of ballots.
There should be zero tolerance for discriminatory practices within our election process. A poll watcher reported that one early voting poll worker was allowing some voters to bring in their slate of candidates and denying that right to other voters. The poll watcher believed that this was racially decided.
Proper planning and allocation of resources including equipment, ballots/materials, and staff are essential to protect the in-person 12 hours of election day voting. Long lines were reported at the Solivita polling location. The wait time to feed the voters’ ballots into the tabulation machine was over an hour long resulting in people leaving without voting. It took three hours to get an additional tabulation machine to the polling site to handle an influx that should have been anticipated. Other locations experienced computer and printer difficulties (early voting), long lines, and running out of ballots and transfer slips.
ELECTION INTEGRITY MATTERS!
At a minimum, pre-election analysis should be done to provide a forecast of voter turnout in preparation for allocation of resources. Post election evaluations would reveal what is working and what needs improvement in all areas including Early Voting, Vote By Mail, and Election Day Operations. This in-depth strategic planning will allow proper allocation of resources including equipment, ballots/materials, and staff for all 167 precincts in Polk County.
Over 450,000 registered voters reside in Polk County including 17 municipalities, making our county among the top 10 largest counties in the state of Florida. Our anticipated growth is going to demand an efficient and organized plan to accommodate those additional voters.
As we all know, there are enemies, both domestic and abroad, that would love nothing more than to disrupt our elections process, thereby weakening our Constitutional Republic. Checks and balances should be in place to ensure our department’s self-sufficiency in the ability to carry out the elections process and to protect against threats to that process. Voter fraud is among those threats and should be investigated at the county level.
But perhaps our greatest threat is not having your voice heard at the polls. Almost everything that we do is affected by the people elected to office. Policymakers create laws and regulations that govern our everyday lives. By having access to information and then doing research about candidates and issues, you can vote for and help elect the individuals that you believe will serve you best. Elected officials work for the people who have elected them.
It’s a new decade and the state of our union calls for new leadership. We need a fresh perspective. We need to provide the education and information that will restore the confidence voters want in order to participate. We need efficient, fair, and accurate elections. We need to protect the integrity of the vote!
It would my greatest honor to serve as your next Supervisor of Elections. I hope to earn your vote on August 18, 2020!