1. Opinion

Clark for Pinellas elections supervisor

Published Oct. 15, 2012

In Florida, a county elections supervisor's job is never easy. Just this summer, Gov. Rick Scott's ill-timed push to purge noncitizens from the voter rolls forced county supervisors to ensure voters' rights were being protected even as they were preparing for a presidential election. Among those standing up for voters was Pinellas Supervisor of Elections Deborah Clark, demonstrating once again she is the most qualified candidate for the job.

Clark, a Republican, has served 12 years as elections supervisor and was an employee in the office for two decades before that. Her tenure has not been without hiccups. The most recent came on primary election night in August when a technical glitch in the county computer system caused delays in transmitting precinct results to the elections headquarters in Largo. The problem arose despite repeated tests Clark said her office had performed.

Clark also has been among the leaders statewide who has promoted the use of absentee ballots, and she has simultaneously limited to just three the number of early voting sites in the state's most densely populated county. Clark says it's about expense. But absentee ballots are also more likely to be tossed out on technicalities, and they are more susceptible to fraud.

Nonetheless, Clark has proven herself a public servant committed to Florida voters and has run the office in a nonpartisan fashion. This summer she was among the elections supervisors who refused to go along with the governor's error-riddled voter purge effort unless state officials provided evidence of the voters' ineligibility. That's at the core of what the job is about: ensuring the integrity of the ballot box.

Jack Killingsworth, 78, ran against Clark as a Democrat in 2008, saying his career as an electrical engineer made him more qualified to manage voter technology. Now he is running without party affiliation and has not launched much of a campaign.

For Pinellas supervisor of elections, the Tampa Bay Times recommends Deborah Clark.


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