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From the staff of the Tampa Bay Times

A paper method of counting ballot petitions



Three weeks before the Feb. 1 deadline for certifying all signatures on ballot initiative petitions, Secretary of State Kurt Browning told political groups that he's changing the system of recording the accuracy of the signature petition totals.

The change from computerized system to paper faxes or PDFs is being made, Browning said, because he questioned the accuracy of some of the numbers received to date (he cited Lee and Volusia counties as examples in a conference call with the groups).

"I want to have a high level of confidence in certifyign ballot placement for initiative signatures," Browning told reporters in a second conference call. Political groups greatly rely on those numbers to determine whether they hit the magic number of 611,009, but Browning emphasized that he's not obligated to post them on his web site.

The change affects only those six initiatives that have received state Supreme Court approval of their proposed ballot language to move forward in the signature gathering process. The two efforts that appear most close to making the November ballot are Hometown Democracy, to limit local land use decision-making, and the Marriage Protection Act to prohibit same sex marriage in Florida.

As of next Monday, Browning said, the Division of Elections web site will no longer reflect daily signature totals.

[Last modified: Wednesday, September 15, 2010 2:14pm]


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