Your Questions to South Florida's Supervisors of Election, Answered

Oct 8, 2018

Election Day is just four weeks away and the deadline to register to vote is Tuesday, October 9. Early voting kicks off in two weeks. 

WLRN asked for your questions regarding the upcoming Nov. 6 midterm election.

We posed some of them to the top three election supervisors in South Florida — Miami-Dade Elections Supervisor Christina White, Broward Elections Supervisor Brenda Snipes and Palm Beach County Supervisor of Elections Susan Bucher.

Here are some of your questions, answered: 

How do we update our signatures?

"You have to do it through the voter application registrations, so you can go to our website and print that. It’s an original signature that’s required. It’s not really reregistering, it’s a record update. You’re going to print the form, fill it out, sign it with your original signature and mail it back to our office." - C.W. 

I’ve requested a mail-in ballot and read those are not often counted. How can I make sure that they are? 

"People think we don’t count the vote by mail ballots. Actually on election night, when the results begin to roll out, the results that first appear on the screen are from the early voting [and mail in ballots]. 

Every vote that’s a valid vote, meaning that is has a signature, meaning that this person is actually a registered voter. Every vote that comes back in is a valid vote. It counts. 

Sign the envelope and get it back into us no later than 7 p.m. on Election night. If it comes later than that, then we definitely cannot count that ballot. If we don't get it back to us during the right time schedule and if it's not completed as it should be, then we're not allowed to make that vote count based on the state's statues." - B.S.

One of the fundamentals we're taught in cybersecurity is that no matter how strong the security maker system, it's only as strong as the people who use it. You're downloading your database locally to each individual iPad and you have a lot of them, what is being done to keep people who aren't trained in cybersecurity from accidently exposing passwords over their shoulder or losing them?

"We have a training program that we are consistently putting our staff members through. Anyone who is touching technology is going through this cybersecurity training. We [in Miami-Dade] don't personally have those iPads out in the field, but I think the question remains." - C.W. 

"Our iPads are exclusively for voting and for checking voters in. All of the other devices are disabled, we don't need to use those. This is a dedicated iPad that gets a direct download from our database on a standalone server." - S.B. 

"We put a lot of emphasis on training when it comes to dealing with equipment. We have programs that we run periodically. We also put protections in place to make sure that they understand the severity of tampering with those systems in ways that are not santctioned by our office. That's been ongoing for awhile and it seems to be working out relatively well." - B.S. 

I want to know if there's anyway that a registered voter can see what his signature on record is.

"The person can come into our office. We have all kinds of samples and I think that's important for people to know, that we don't just have one signature replication in our office. We have whatever a voter sends into us, whatever we collected from them that has a signature. We compare all of those. [They can come into the office] if they want to see what it looks like or just update it." - B.S. 

A previous election cycle, there was an investigation by the Palm Beach Post concerning possible absentee voter fraud. I was wondering what Supervisor Bucher is going to do to allieviate absentee voter fraud by candidates and their followers.

"I'll tell you that we sent it to our state attorney who really did not a lot of things. They really were unsucessful. What happens is that, you know, just the same in all large counties, there are people are paid to go out there and collect ballots. And so instrumentally, the supervisors of election have passed a law to say that if you are directly paid to go generate and gather vote-by-mail absentee ballots, then you have a limitation of two, plus your direct family members. Well, if you're a volunteer, it's unlimited. So what we're finding is that there are a lot of ambitious people that are volunteers picking up ballots. 

So we reinstituted the request form, so that if you are somebody that is requesting a direct family member, you have to give us all of your information including your name, your drivers license and your address. That way we can track it back." - S.B.

What forms of identification (besides a driver license) can a voter bring?

"A drivers license, a Florida ID card, a student ID card, a military ID card, a government issued county, state, or federal ID. It can be a neighborhood ID. You have a lot of flexibility. 

If you show up in person to vote and you don't have a picture-signature ID, you still vote a provisional ballot, which is a regular ballot put in an envelope, certificate is completed, presented to the canvassing board and if you are in fact registered to vote and voted in no other manner, then we open that ballot and count it." - S.B.

Why are people allowed to bother me about their candidates and positions while I wait in line?

"Voting is a very important process. There are procedures in place that will allow voters to be talked to by the candidates as long as its not within 100 feet of the entrance to the polling place." - S.B.