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Tampa Bay election supervisors push back on baseless voting fraud claims

“By any measure this was the most secure, transparent election in history,” said Pasco SOE Brian Corley, a Republican.
Pasco County Supervisor of Elections Brian E. Corley. TIMES (2008)
Pasco County Supervisor of Elections Brian E. Corley. TIMES (2008) [ WIGINTON, KERI | St. Petersburg Times ]
Published Nov. 14, 2020
Updated Nov. 14, 2020

Responding to a Tampa Bay Times query, area elections supervisors, mostly Republicans, rejected the claims by the Trump campaign of voter fraud in the presidential election, saying they’re baseless, insulting to dedicated elections professionals and, some added, unhealthy for democracy.

“While allegations of widespread voter fraud should be investigated, vague and unfounded claims of ‘rigged elections’ and ‘fraud’ on social media or cable news networks that do not include actual proof only serve to further erode voter confidence and continue to polarize the electorate,” said Pasco County Elections Supervisor Brian Corley, a Republican.

“By any measure this was the most secure, transparent election in history.”

Noting his background in law enforcement, Hillsborough Supervisor Craig Latimer, a Democrat, said, "All allegations of criminal misconduct warrant attention, (but) we have not been presented with any evidence of widespread fraud.

Craig Latimer, Hillsborough County Supervisor of Elections, stamps accepted ballots during the canvassing process at the Hillsborough Supervisor of Elections office, Robert L. Gilder Elections Service Center, 2514 N. Falkenburg Rd., on Friday, Nov. 6, 2020 in Tampa.
Craig Latimer, Hillsborough County Supervisor of Elections, stamps accepted ballots during the canvassing process at the Hillsborough Supervisor of Elections office, Robert L. Gilder Elections Service Center, 2514 N. Falkenburg Rd., on Friday, Nov. 6, 2020 in Tampa. [ DIRK SHADD | Times ]

“Instead we have seen elections officials work methodically, transparently and in accordance with law to count the votes.”

The supervisors all emphasized the non-partisan nature of their work.

Pinellas County Supervisor of Elections workers Wendy Grimes, left, and Alexandra Pena-Rosado, right, count votes during a post election vote audit, Friday, November 13, in Largo. The audit checked the election of East Lake Tarpon Special Control District Seat 5, Precinct 628.
Pinellas County Supervisor of Elections workers Wendy Grimes, left, and Alexandra Pena-Rosado, right, count votes during a post election vote audit, Friday, November 13, in Largo. The audit checked the election of East Lake Tarpon Special Control District Seat 5, Precinct 628. [ SCOTT KEELER | Times ]

But some local Republicans continued to stoke the fire.

“We are undergoing and witnessing the worst voter and election fraud in the history of this nation, and perhaps on a scale never seen by any other country in the world,” Hillsborough County Republican Party Chairman Jim Waurishuk said in an email statement to party members this week.

He cited no evidence, but urged local Republicans to “vote out your corrupt local officials or have them removed for corruption and incompetence … Florida and Hillsborough cannot have the fate of a nation riding on unaccountable local bureaucrats who think they are above the law.”

Hillsborough Supervisor of Elections Craig Latimer tweeted this picture Friday with the message: "Ballots ready to be shipped off to our overseas military. Proud to serve those who serve."
Hillsborough Supervisor of Elections Craig Latimer tweeted this picture Friday with the message: "Ballots ready to be shipped off to our overseas military. Proud to serve those who serve."

Manatee County Elections Supervisor Mike Bennett, a Republican, said there are minor incidents of fraud in every election, but in this case, not enough to “turn an election of this magnitude.”

“I think it’s a sad day for America that we’re even considering that we have that much fraud,” Bennett said.

Bennett said misunderstanding occurs because states have differing election and ballot-counting laws and procedures, and advocated a uniform national system for federal elections — though acknowledging that would require a constitutional amendment.

Polk County’s Lori Edwards emphasized the professionalism of elections officials she’s known over 20 years in the field, and said, “It’s not uncommon for a defeated candidate to complain of irregularities. It’s just amplified this year.”

Supervisor Julie Marcus updates canvassing board. Website shows more than 68k people have voted on Election Day. More than 525k overall, turnout near 74 percent.
Supervisor Julie Marcus updates canvassing board. Website shows more than 68k people have voted on Election Day. More than 525k overall, turnout near 74 percent. [ JOHN PENDYGRAFT | Times ]

Republican supervisors Julie Marcus in Pinellas and Ron Turner in Sarasota didn’t respond to the Times' query.

Contact William March at wemarch@gmail.com.