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From the staff of the Tampa Bay Times

Latest election worry: Change in voting software



Some Florida election supervisors have a new concern with the approaching election: a switch in vote tabulation software that has been mandated by the state Legislature.

When lawmakers rewrote the state election code last year, they inserted some language that has not received much attention. Election supervisors must for the first time send the state extensive details on the voting habits of everyone who votes in November.

To do that requires a change in software -- which supervisors in some counties have not yet received, even though early voting begins in about three weeks. The software change affects counties that use voting equipment made by Election Systems & Software (ES&S), which includes 33 of the state's 67 counties and all of the high-population counties except for Duval and Hillsborough. 

Sumter County Supervisor of Elections Karen Krauss wrote a letter this week to Secretary of State Ken Detzner asking that the change in software be postponed until after the election. Sumter is a high-turout county and is home to many residents of The Villages, the giant retirement community that straddles three counties.  

"There is such a monumental amount of pressure riding on the success of this election," Krauss wrote, "and none of us wants to see Florida in the news again for any reason. As it is right now we have our hands full and do not need one more juggling act added to the process ... we have so much more on our minds to think about with this election."

Krauss doesn't even have the software yet, so she can't test it. "We don't have a lot of time to test it before we use it," she said. "It's a very uncomfortable feeling."

Krauss said Detzner replied promptly to her letter and said that the software change must occur because the Legislature mandated it. She said Detzner promised to ship Sumter the latest software immediately, and she expects to receive it by Friday.

"He was very accommodating," Krauss said. "We'll do what we have to do to make it work." 

[Last modified: Thursday, October 4, 2012 1:49pm]


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