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Head of Florida’s Elections Supervisors Says There Will Be No Reason To Question Florida’s Vote Tally

florida_voters.jpg
Miami Herald

The president of Florida's supervisors of elections says the state’s election system is secure and that the president of the United States, and voters, should have no doubts about the voting results.

More than four million vote-by-mail ballots have been requested in Florida, and early voting begins in 10 days. Florida has been home to election mishaps and disasters for decades, most famously in the 2000 presidential election.

Now, it’s the place where President Trump officially calls home.

Craig Latimer, the head of the state’s supervisors of elections, says Florida’s election results will be so secure that the president — and voters — should have no reason to question them.

WLRN is here for you, even when life is unpredictable. Local journalists are working hard to keep you informed on the latest developments across South Florida. Please support this vital work. Become a WLRN member today. Thank you.

Latimer appeared on the Florida Roundup with hosts Tom Hudson and Melissa Ross. Here’s an excerpt from the conversation.

MELISSA ROSS: Take us through the process once someone fills out the ballot, drops it in the mail. How does the ballot progress from there? How does it get into your hands and counted?

CRAIG LATIMER: You can mail it back to the office, or you can drop it off. In my county, I have four offices, and right now, you can drop it at any office, or you can always drop it at an early vote site during early voting.

So again, in my county, I have 26 early vote sites. You can go to any one of those early vote sites during early voting and drop your ballot off in the ballot box at those sites. Those are all then brought back to our election service center. We use a lot of technology on your envelope.

There's a barcode, and basically, that's going to identify who you are. It's also going to tell us this is a good envelope that we sent out. And when that is processed back to our office, it's going to cancel your ability to vote in person on Election Day or early voting.

The signatures are then compared on the envelope. You have to sign that oath, and that signature gets compared to signatures that we have on file. If for some reason, you forget to sign that or the signature doesn't match, we're going to try and immediately reach out to you because there is a cure for that process and the voter has some responsibility.

Now, this is an affidavit that needs to be filled out, and they have to furnish us with a copy of what the acceptable forms of ID and then that signature is cured. But, you said it, You can track that ballot back to the voter. In my county, we have an additional service. You can opt-in with a cell number or an e-mail, and we'll actually text you when your ballot hits our office or e-mail you and let you know it's here. And then you continue to further track it, see that it's going to be received and then is eventually going to show us counted.

ROSS: What if someone planned to vote by mail, but they've changed their mind? We've had a number of listeners pose this question to us. They're worried that the post office slowdowns mean their ballot may not make it back in time. They've changed their mind. They now want to vote in person and they want to know what the procedure is to do that, to make sure their ballot, their vote is counted. Since they've already received a mail-in ballot.

Right now, if there's a ballot mailed locally, we're getting it the next day. I mean, literally one day after it's signed and the dates put on it and it's postmarked, we're getting it the next day. But if you have a vote by mail ballot, you decide, "You know what, I don't want to vote by mail. I want to vote in person." That isn't a problem whatsoever.

You don't even have to bring that ballot and surrender it at the polling site. You're going to go into an in-person site. You're going to check in with one of the approved forms of photo ID, signature ID. And as soon as you check-in, it's going to cancel that vote by mail ballot so that if you did decide, let me just mail this in and see what happens. It's not going to be accepted. You've already voted.

TOM HUDSON: The validity of the election that has been called into question by the president and the vice president to the United States. What can you say to Florida voters regarding the validity of the Florida vote that will close at 7:00 p.m. on November 3rd and with the unofficial results due by that next Saturday?

By law in Florida, before every election, every supervisor conducts what's called a public logic and accuracy test. This is done under the eyes of the canvassing board, a random sample of tabulators to be used at early vote Election Day, and the high-speed scanners for vote by mail.

We've run what we call a test deck. We know what the outcome should be. The logic is that it can see every single spot on that ballot for a vote can be cast. And the accuracy is that it counts correctly. We know what the outcome should be. It does. It counts correctly. The machines are then locked down, sealed, and finally deployed out in the community where voting takes place.

After the election, there's a manual audit that takes place, and you can do it one of two ways. The canvassing board can randomly select a race and randomly select precincts. And then the elections workers would go find all the ballots from Election Day, early vote and vote by mail for those precincts. And they would then sit down and hand count those ballots to ensure once again that the machines counted correctly.

An electronic audit — that's certified by the state. It requires a 20 percent of your precincts. I do 100 percent of my precincts to verify that my tabulator counted correctly.

HUDSON: Do you feel that there'll be any reason for the president of the United States to question the validity of the Florida vote?

LATIMER: I don't. You know, the results that we have — and this is all, again, done under the canvassing board. Ultimately, it's going to go to the state and the state’s the one that's going to certify the final state election.

Denise Royal produces The Florida Roundup. Her broadcast experience includes writing and producing for NBC’s The Today Show, Weekend Today, Weekend Nightly News, and MSNBC. She also worked as a Writer/Producer for ABC News and Nightly Business Report on PBS.