Integrity in election 2016
By Hillsborough County Supervisor of Elections Craig Latimer
Let’s talk about safe and secure elections.
For 35 years I enforced the law, retiring as a Major for the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Department. So when you ask me, as your Supervisor of Elections, about voter fraud and tampering with elections, I have a unique perspective. Generally, people are concerned about two things. Is our voter registration system designed to allow only eligible voters to vote and to ensure that people don’t vote more than once? And are our voting equipment and tabulation procedures designed to ensure that we get an accurate vote count? The answers are yes, and yes. Here are my top 10 reasons your vote is safe and secure:
Registration and Voting
1. The Florida Division of Elections checks each voter registration form to verify the applicant’s identity and citizenship.
2. Our voter registration database is scrubbed each night to remove deceased voters and felons.
3. Voters have to show photo and signature identification to vote.
4. We update voter records electronically to record when a voter has requested a mail ballot or voted. If someone comes to vote in person, we immediately cancel their mail ballot. And vice versa.
Tabulation and Tampering
5. Our state-certified equipment is tested before each election with a public logic and accuracy test to make sure machines are counting votes correctly. During this test, we put pre-marked ballots in a randomly selected sample of our machines to make sure the count is what it’s supposed to be and that every position on the ballot is being read by each machine.
6. Our ballots and equipment are under 24-hour camera surveillance and stored in areas with restricted key card access until they are deployed for voting. During voting, our ballot scanners are kept in plain sight, secured with seals to prohibit tampering.
7. We use a stand-alone server, not connected to the Internet, to tabulate and report results.
8. Electronic results from each ballot scanner are encrypted and backed up by paper results tapes that are posted on the doors of each polling place and driven to our central office.
9. Paper ballots are held for 22 months and can be rescanned if there is a problem with the equipment or question about results.
10. Our results are verified with a manual audit, where we retrieve all the ballots cast during Early Voting, Vote By Mail and on Election Day in randomly selected races and precincts and hand-count the votes to make sure they match the tabulated results.
These safeguards are established in law and in place in all 67 counties in Florida. My counterparts at other election offices belong to different political parties and have diverse backgrounds, and the same is true of our staff members and poll workers. It would be impossible to engineer this complex system to benefit a specific candidate or party. Sadly, there is an unwarranted sense of fear among some of our citizens, and that is as dangerous to our democracy as a compromised election. I am doing everything I can to give our community confidence in our election process. After three decades in law enforcement, my commitment to integrity and compliance has never wavered. And I promise you— because I experience it first-hand—that our elections are safe and secure.