Hillsborough elections supervisor Buddy Johnson did something incredible Tuesday even for Buddy Johnson. He took longer to report the results of the primary election than even those counties where the voter turnout was three or four times as strong. Of course, listening to him, the mess was no big deal and somebody else's fault. It always is. What will his chaotic leadership bring come November?
Tuesday's primary was Johnson's chance to do two big things before the general election: familiarize voters with the new optical scan voting machines and restore some confidence in his leadership before he stands for re-election. He failed at both. Hillsborough had the third worst voter turnout Tuesday of any county in Florida, undercut only by rural Calhoun and Glades counties. Turning out the vote is one of a supervisor's jobs. But Johnson seemed more interested in plastering his name and face across the county in the run-up to his tough re-election campaign.
Johnson also tried to fob off blame for his delay in posting the primary results. He said a computer glitch prevented his office from posting the tallies, and he laid the problem on his equipment vendor, Premier Election Solutions. But this is simply a case of Johnson being unprepared. Secretary of State Kurt Browning had to fire a shot across his bow after Johnson took longer than any other supervisor to buy the new machines.
His excuse that accuracy is more essential than speed ignores the fact that you can have both; indeed, almost every other county in the state managed to post its results before Hillsborough. Johnson better get on the job. Turnout in November could be seven times what overwhelmed him on Tuesday.