Make us your home page

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Challenger sees long lines as reason to oust elections boss

Democrat Jack Killingsworth looks at the long lines at Pinellas County's three early voting sites and sees opportunity.

Killingsworth, a retired electrical engineer who is running for Pinellas supervisor of elections, says voters should not have to wait more than 15 minutes for early voting or on Election Day.

He spreads that message in the lines of Pinellas voters who had to wait an hour or more to vote early. "The ones I talked to were very appreciative of the fact that I have a goal," said Killingsworth, 74, who was an unsuccessful School Board candidate in 2006.

But away from the lines, it's hard to tell that there is a race for elections supervisor in Pinellas. There has been little advertising, few yard signs and only a smattering of mailings.

This is the first contested race for Republican Elections Supervisor Deborah Clark since the 2000 presidential election.

The timing would seem ripe for a Democratic challenger, given the national climate and Clark's often checkered tenure, including her office overlooking a box of absentee ballots in 2004.

Killingsworth admits he's had trouble getting his message out.

He and a few volunteers have distributed about 60,000 informational cards door to door; he also has appeared at various political events and taken out some TV ads.

"Getting the message out is very difficult when you're a novice," he said. "I don't have a press agent, I don't know how to do press releases. I just work my butt off."

Clark, 59, attributes the silence surrounding the race to her job. She said she is so focused on making sure everyone else's elections run smoothly that she hasn't spent much time on her own.

Both candidates have relatively small campaign finance chests: $32,220 for Clark and $29,183 for Killingsworth, as of Oct. 10.

Supervisors of elections, who make $128,726 a year, are responsible for ensuring people can register to vote and learn where to vote. They oversee vote counting and guard against fraud.

Both candidates tout experience.

"I'm the only candidate in this race with any election experience, period," said Clark, who has worked in the supervisor's office for 30 years and has been the supervisor since 2000.

She noted that there are 20 city elections nine weeks after the winner takes office in January. She doubts Killingsworth could get up to speed that quickly.

While Killingsworth hasn't run elections before, he said his background in business, engineering and working in missile systems at Cape Canaveral is experience enough.

"She has experience," he said, "but we have experience with her and our experience has been errors, errors, errors."

He cited several cases from 2000 to 2006 where mistakes ranged from missing ballots to uncounted ballots to incorrect absentee ballots.

Clark said she has worked hard to invest in technology, improve her staff and troubleshoot past problems. Clark called the uncounted box of absentee ballots in 2004 the "absolute low point in my career."

She said her office instituted new procedures, including a system that allows voters to track their absentee ballot online.

Challenger sees long lines as reason to oust elections boss 10/31/08 [Last modified: Sunday, November 2, 2008 3:05pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Pope Francis presents Trump with a 'politically loaded gift': His encyclical on climate change

    Global Warming

    VATICAN CITY — On Wednesday, Pope Francis appeared to make his point with a gift.

    Ivanka Trump, first lady Melania Trump and President Donald Trump meet with Pope Francis at the Vatican, Wednesday.  [Evan Vucci/Pool via The New York Times]
  2. Tampa police say 41-year-old man shot and killed by ex-boss, investigation ongoing


    TAMPA — A 41-year-old man was shot and killed by his former boss Wednesday morning outside the West Tampa auto body shop where they once worked together, according to Tampa police.

  3. Father and brother of alleged bomber detained in Libya


    The father and younger brother of the man who British police say bombed an Ariana Grande concert in Manchester have been detained in Libya, where anti-terror authorities said the brother confessed to knowing "all the details" of the attack plot.

    Hashim Ramadan Abedi appears inside the Tripoli-based Special Deterrent anti-terrorism force unit after his arrest on Tuesday for alleged links to the Islamic State extremist group. Abedi is the brother of Salman Abedi, who has been identified as the man behind the bombing that killed 22 people and wounded scores at an Ariana Grande concert Monday night in Manchester. [Ahmed Bin Salman, Special Deterrent Force via AP]
  4. Marijuana extract Epidiolex helps some kids with epilepsy, study shows


    A medicine made from marijuana, without the stuff that gives a high, cut seizures in kids with a severe form of epilepsy in a study that strengthens the case for more research into pot's possible health benefits.

    An employee checks a plant at LeafLine Labs, a medical marijuana production facility in Cottage Grove, Minn. [Associated Press (2015)]
  5. CBO analysis: 23 million would lose health coverage under House-passed bill


    WASHINGTON — The Republican health care bill that passed the House earlier this month would nearly double the number of Americans without health insurance over the next decade, according to a new analysis by the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office.

    President Donald Trump held a press conference in the Rose Garden at the White House with members of the GOP on May 4 after the House passed legislation to roll back the Affordable Care Act. [Cheriss May | Sipa USA via TNS]