Early votes to be counted by 6 p.m., says elections official
TAMPA -- The scanning of 80,000 early votes that weren't registered on Election Day will be complete by 6 p.m. today, said Hillsborough County Commissioner Rose Ferlita.
"We are hopeful we can give a grand total by tonight," said Ferlita, one of three people on the county's canvassing board. "This has been an embarrassment for Hillsborough County, and we need to get this done."
By noon, about 40 scanning machines were tabulating early votes from seven polling sites. Thirteen machines were added by 2 p.m. to speed the process, Ferlita said.
The Supervisor of Elections Office dedicated more staffers and resources after Democratic state Sens. Charlie Justice and Arthenia Joyner called for Gov. Charlie Crist to look into problems involved with tallying votes.
Ferlita said that because the process has been expedited, she didn't think Crist needed to get involved because there were checks and balances in place to ensure an accurate result, especially in the narrow supervisor of elections race between Republican incumbent Buddy Johnson and Democratic challenger Phyllis Busansky.
"Because we have a paper trail, the integrity of the process has been protected," Ferlita said.
After the early votes are counted, the canvassing board will begin a review of provisional ballots tonight, Ferlita said.
"I hope it's tonight," Ferlita said. "I'd like to get it done."
Michael Van Sickler, Times staff writer