1. Opinion

Editorial: Hernando still hasn't solved election woes

Published Sep. 4, 2014

Shirley Anderson was elected as the Hernando supervisor of elections two years ago after promising to improve the efficiency and performance of the office. It was an easy pledge to make after the high-profile gaffes of her predecessor, but as the primary election polls closed last week and the counting and posting of vote totals began, it became clear Anderson has not yet fulfilled her pledge.

In her first big test, Anderson and her staff encountered computer problems, human error and assorted glitches that prevented results from being posted on her elections website in a timely manner. She published final results to Facebook just before 11 p.m., nearly four hours after counting began, and to her website nearly 30 minutes later. The sloppy performance kept two Republican county commission candidates waiting to learn the outcome of their contest and the candidates in a five-county judicial race waiting to see if there would be a run-off in November and who would be in it. Anderson has to do better than that.

Election supervisors in the other four counties in the 5th Judicial Circuit — Citrus, Sumter, Lake and Marion — posted final results for their counties between 8:16 p.m. and 8:53 p.m., according to their website updates. There is no reason Anderson should not have done the same.

Anderson, in an interview with Tampa Bay Times staff writer Barbara Behrendt, detailed the night's troubles. They included information technology problems, a poll worker driving to a wrong location and without proper equipment, and the hold-up of tallying a precinct because an outstanding touch-screen machine contained a single ballot. Anderson accepted blame for the shoddy showing. She should. It's her vendor and her trained workers that contributed to the tardy vote tallies that forced Anderson to turn to social media to try to inform the candidates and the public of the election results. But Anderson has just 77 Twitter followers, so that was not a viable alternative. She would have better served the public if she had notified the county's television broadcast channel and other media outlets of where she was posting the results.

Since taking office after the 2012 election, Anderson has modernized her office's website, and she provided updated voter turnout information throughout the Aug. 26 primary. Still, she had nearly two years to prepare for counting and notifying the public of the election results and, in that regard, the performance of her office is a major disappointment. She has a little more than eight weeks to show improvement and demonstrate to the public that she can run the office in the efficient and transparent manner she promised.


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