Sharon Harrington, Lee County Supervisor of Elections
4:08
The News-Press: 
Welcome Lee County Supervisor of Elections Sharon Harrington. WIth one day before polls open, what's left to be done?
Monday August 25, 2008 4:08 The News-Press
4:09
Sharon Harrington: 
We are still processing absentee ballots as they are received from the post office on a daily bases.   Filling last minute poll worker positions as well.
Monday August 25, 2008 4:09 Sharon Harrington
4:10
The News-Press: 
Did   you expect heavier early voting turnout, considering the voting machines?
Monday August 25, 2008 4:10 The News-Press
4:11
Sharon Harrington: 
Yes, we all anticipated a much heavier turn out for early voting for several reasons:   new equipment which may slow the process at the polls just a bit and also some very important races on the Republican ballot for key offices.
Monday August 25, 2008 4:11 Sharon Harrington
4:12
The News-Press: 
Any theories on why turnout was lower than anticipated?
Monday August 25, 2008 4:12 The News-Press
4:14
Sharon Harrington: 
I heard from a number of our voters who are registered as Democrat,  with "No Party Affiliation"   or a minor party that if they only had the two school board races to vote on, they weren't going to bother with voting this time but wait for the general.   But, ALL races are important, whether large or small, especially since the school board races will be decided in tomorrow's election.
Monday August 25, 2008 4:14 Sharon Harrington
4:16
The News-Press: 
You said the new equipment my slow the proces just a little bit, but some are worried that with one machine per precinct longs will be extremely long. What's the worst-case scenario?
Monday August 25, 2008 4:16 The News-Press
4:19
Sharon Harrington: 
With the new equipment, there are a few more steps the voter needs to take in order to vote, so it's not just the fact that we only have one scanner per precinct.   Filling the ovals on the paper ballot is a lot more time consuming that just pressing a choice on the touch screens.   Orange Cty. who has been using the optical scan system while we were still on punch cards, uses only one scanner per precinct and they have a lot more voters than we do.   Once people become familiar with the new machine and they see how really easy it is, there will be fewer questions and it will become second nature to most voters.
Monday August 25, 2008 4:19 Sharon Harrington
4:20
[Comment From GuestGuest: ] 
Hello Mrs. Harrington. When do you expect results to come in tomorrow?
Monday August 25, 2008 4:20 Guest
4:21
Sharon Harrington: 
We are hoping to be able to release the absentee and early voting results as soon after the polls close as possible.   Generally, you can expect to see them show up on the media or on our website by 7:30.   Results from the precincts will be posted periodically as they are being received at our tabulation center.
Monday August 25, 2008 4:21 Sharon Harrington
4:22
[Comment From DianeDiane: ] 
Will their be an election to replace Jason Yost on the Lee Memorial Board?
Monday August 25, 2008 4:22 Diane
4:24
Sharon Harrington: 
We have not received any official word from the Division of Elections in Tallahassee about holding a special qualifying period for candidates wishing to run in November for that seat.   We are waiting for directions at this time from them.
Monday August 25, 2008 4:24 Sharon Harrington
4:25
[Comment From Smile4onceSmile4once: ] 
Did you or your department play any role in the City of Cape Coral not having an election to replace the Mayor?
Monday August 25, 2008 4:25 Smile4once
4:29
Sharon Harrington: 

I am not required by law to conduct municipal elections.   My jurisdiction extend only to Federal, State and County Elections.   However, the City of Cape Coral does contract with my office to conduct their elections for them, as do all of our municipalities.   Therefore, their elections can only be held when my resources (personnel, poll workers, equipment, etc.) are available.   When a municipality requires an election, we work with the City Clerks to establish the most reasonable and economical time to assist them.

Monday August 25, 2008 4:29 Sharon Harrington
4:29
[Comment From LindaLinda: ] 
I found the other voting machines to be much easier and faster. Why did we change to paper ballots?
Monday August 25, 2008 4:29 Linda
4:32
Sharon Harrington: 

When Gov. Crist took office, one of the goals he had was to have all of the 67 counties in Florida use an optical scan voting system.   During the last legislative session, HB537 was passed by our legislators to ban all touch screen voting machines (except those for people with disabilities) and go to a paper based system.   This new state law went into effect on July 1, 2008.   The Governor felt that this method would provide for a better paper trail.

Monday August 25, 2008 4:32 Sharon Harrington
4:33
The News-Press: 
There has been much discussion recently about the Supevisor of Elections perhaps becoming a non-partisan position. What are your thoughts on that?
Monday August 25, 2008 4:33 The News-Press
4:37
Sharon Harrington: 
This issue will actually come before the voters of Lee County on the November ballots as a Charter Referendum.   There is sometimes comments made with regards to what I do on a daily basis and the fact that my position runs under a partisan banner and how there could be a conflict.   If the voters of Lee County feel that because of the nature of my office, it should be a non-partisan election, then I think the voices of the people should be heard.   For me personally and for all my staff, it won't change a thing about the way we conduct our selves with the voters or the candidates we service.  
Monday August 25, 2008 4:37 Sharon Harrington
4:38
[Comment From ChrisChris: ] 
What happened to the touch screen machines? When we voted the worker said he thought they were sold for scrap?
Monday August 25, 2008 4:38 Chris
4:40
Sharon Harrington: 
All of the touch screens with the except of those we must use for those with disabilities where picked up by the State.   They are attempting to work with the various vendors to see if they can be sold to other jurisdictions using like equipment.   However, if they are not sold, they will be turned over to a company I believe in Orlando for salvage.
Monday August 25, 2008 4:40 Sharon Harrington
4:45
The News-Press: 
Are there safeguards for voters who mistakenly fail to vote in all the races?
Monday August 25, 2008 4:45 The News-Press
4:50
Sharon Harrington: 
No.  With all elections  there are  a  tremendous  number of  races where voters elect NOT to vote for any of the candidates in a contest or on a particular issue.   And that is their choice.   The O/S system is set to indicate an over-vote (when too many choices are made) on a ballot, but because we have so many under-votes, we'd be at the polls all day to get under-voted ballots accepted.   Voters must take the time to check every contest to make sure that they have marked their ballot correctly before leaving the privacy booth.
Monday August 25, 2008 4:50 Sharon Harrington
4:52
The News-Press: 
Do some races require more of your time and attention than others? Which race has drawn the most interest this year?
Monday August 25, 2008 4:52 The News-Press
4:58
Sharon Harrington: 
The races that require more of our time and attention are generally those where the candidates themselves are actively and aggressively campaigning.   They are the ones that ask more questions about the legality of various campaigning activities, request more voter data, have larger contribution and expenditure reports to file, etc.   This has been a very unusual election cycle leading up to the primary solely for the fact that almost all of the races on tomorrow's ballot  have generated a lot of interest.  
Monday August 25, 2008 4:58 Sharon Harrington
4:58
The News-Press: 
OK. We have time for one final question.
Monday August 25, 2008 4:58 The News-Press
4:58
[Comment From lindalinda: ] 
Do you think with this new voting system that less people will come out to vote due to it being time consuming. The last voting machines were so quick and easy.
Monday August 25, 2008 4:58 linda
5:01
Sharon Harrington: 
I'm truly hoping that  a new voting system  will not deter voters from getting to the polls.   We've all waited an hour for that seat at our favorite restaurant....many of us have waited   longer than that for a 30 sec. ride at Disney.   Waiting a couple of extra minutes to do what only have of the world gets to dream about, is worth the wait!
Monday August 25, 2008 5:01 Sharon Harrington
5:02
The News-Press: 
Thank you for   time, Ms. Harrington. And thank you viewers.   Please join us tomorrow at 11 a.m. for a chat with School Board member Jane Kuckel, and check back for other chats as they're scheduled. Have a good evening, and don't forget to vote.
Monday August 25, 2008 5:02 The News-Press
 
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