We’ve all been there. We go into our polling place and we say “Hello” to the sweet older ladies and gentlemen working the polls and managing the front line for the elections. You recognize some of them and it is comforting to know these special people are doing the mundane tasks of the voting process.
But is it mundane?
The front line workers assuring the integrity of our elections are poll workers and they are extremely important. They should never be overlooked.
That is why I was shocked to receive a call from a voter after our local Election. She was extremely upset and concerned about her experience in Precinct 113 in the Arlington area.
The caller told us she went to her polling place, signed in, showed her ID and then received her ballot. She went to one of those funny-looking tables to fill out her ballot and when she opened the file folder – she was staring at a ballot already filled in. The filled in ballot was for all the Democratic candidates.
She stepped away from the funny looking table and said out loud, “This ballot is already filled in. What is going on here?”
The precinct manager came over, looked at the ballot, took it and chatted with another elderly gentleman in the precinct. The manager told our caller to go back to the table and get another ballot. She did and this time was able to fill out her ballot.
However, another issue happened before she could leave the poll and she was caught off guard AGAIN. When she went to the machine to scan her ballot, there was no one manning the machine. She stood there for a minute and finally decided to go ahead and put it in the machine. She wanted to get out of the precinct and calm her nerves. She put her ballot in and left after taking her “I Voted” sticker.
After arriving home she reached out to the Supervisor of Elections, Mike Hogan, to report the incident. The person who answered her call asked what her issue was and she stated: Voter Fraud.
She was sent to Mrs. Haines – not Mike Hogan – because they said he was not available. She explained what happened. Mrs. Haines said she would call her back once she researched the issue. Mrs. Haines was true to her word and did call back.
The Good news/Bad news of the story is it turned out not to be voter fraud, but rather a sweet elderly poll worker not doing her job properly. A previous voter came in who did not speak English very well and left her ballot on the voter scanning machine. Mysteriously, the ballot somehow ended up back at the ballot table and was given to our caller.
What a mess. If you have voted, you know that this situation was a mess all the way around. There is a system in place for this and an already filled out ballot should never have shown up inside another voter’s folder.
Although after all the research was conducted, it appears it wasn’t voter fraud as the caller to Eye on Jacksonville thought it might be. Instead it was just a mistake – a sloppy mistake compounded by the poll worker and the manager of the precinct.
Here is what should have happened when the non-English speaking voter left her ballot:
- The unscanned ballot should have been placed in the envelope labeled Unscanned Ballots that is provided for each poll.
- Once the polls close and all the equipment and envelopes are received at the SOE’s office, the Canvasing Board would then review the ballot and decide how best to handle the ballot. That is their job.
In our review of this situation, we also researched what is required for those working the polls. We found Florida Statutes 102.014 requiring every poll worker, depending on their position, must receive 2 to 3 hours of training before each election. It also requires they have a working knowledge of the laws and procedures.
Eye on Jacksonville reached out to Mike Hogan about this issue. He already knew about the issue and has taken the necessary actions required based on the situation.
While talking about this situation, we also discussed the need for more diversity of political parties in our precincts.
Did you know that Florida Statues 102.012 requires that no precinct be composed solely of members of one political party? Unfortunately, that is not the case in Duval County. In both the General Election of 2018 and the 2019 Local Elections there were precincts with all Democrats and no Republicans working the polls.
In fact, the following precincts had all Democrat poll workers. (2019 Precincts 1312, 1306, 912, 808) (2018 Precincts 1003, 815).
We asked “Why?” and the answer was they cannot find the poll workers they need. They are looking for alternatives and other ways to encourage people to work the polls. In the last election, the City of Jacksonville sent 150 city employees to work the polls but with 199 precincts, they need more and they need more organization. Years ago businesses would let their employees off to work the polls too but that isn’t happening anymore. (Maybe it’s time for companies to consider this again???)
The issue is this: We need more Republican poll workers. By the letter of the law, we cannot have only one political party represented in the polling location. It’s a violation of the law and we certainly don’t need to violate Election laws in Duval County and be accused of mismanaging the voting process.
And…we cannot expect elections to be fair if both parties are not represented in every polling location. The 2020 elections are far too important, not to be prepared.
So what’s the answer? We need YOU to be a poll worker for the 2020 election cycle. Grab some friends and sign up together. Ask your boss if the company might want to support giving a day off to some of their employees so they can be a poll worker. Contact the Supervisor of Elections and get on the list NOW. It’s not a difficult job BUT it does require common sense and a desire to serve your country. You can reach them at https://www.duvalelections.com/
Don’t be frustrated with the situation and try not to lay blame at the feet of the SOE. They need help and you can be a volunteer. The pay is cheap. The benefits are YUGE!
Be a part of Making Voting Great Again.