Free Republic
Browse · Search
Topics · Post Article

Skip to comments.

How to Count Like Florida
National Review ^ | 12/1/22 | Ryan Mills

Posted on 12/03/2022 1:30:56 PM PST by Joe Brower

In the Sunshine State, the voting is easy and the results are quick.

The day after the 2020 general election, Florida governor Ron DeSantis crowed about his state’s performance. While vote-counting in other states was slow going and the results in several key races were still in doubt, Florida’s elections had seemingly gone off without a hitch. 

Of course, it wasn’t always that way. Two decades earlier, Florida had become the national poster child for mismanaged elections. In the razor-thin race between George W. Bush and Al Gore, images of Florida vote-counters with magnifying glasses eyeing so-called pregnant, dimpled, and hanging chads were imprinted on the national psyche. The U.S. Supreme Court eventually intervened, shutting down a statewide recount for which there were no statewide standards.

As recently as 2018, when Broward and Palm Beach Counties flubbed recounts in three statewide races, a federal judge declared Florida the “laughingstock of the world.” But by 2020, DeSantis and others could confidently tout Florida as a model for voting. “Perhaps,” DeSantis said, “2020 was the year that we finally vanquished the ghosts of Bush versus Gore.”

This year, Florida again stood out as a state that got its elections right. While California took weeks to finish counting votes and Arizona’s elections were plagued by widespread printer issues, Florida’s results were mostly clear within hours of polls closing.

Florida’s ability to manage its elections effectively and efficiently dates to efforts made 20 years ago, in the aftermath of Bush v. Gore, when then-governor Jeb Bush — W’s brother — assembled a bipartisan task force to modernize the state’s voting processes. But it didn’t end there. Election officials and state leaders spent two decades fine-tuning the system, and in the process the state has become a surprise national leader.

“We have open access. We have great voter participation. It’s easy to register to vote. We count ballots quickly. We do it in a standardized way,” Jeb Bush told National Review. “That’s kind of the way it should be.”

After the 2000 election, Jim Smith, Florida’s former attorney general and secretary of state who co-chaired the election task force, visited other states to look at their voting operations. “I don’t think Florida was particularly behind,” he said, a claim echoed by other election leaders. But the 2000 election debacle gave Florida an opportunity to reassess its election processes and clean up its statutes, Smith said. 

The 21-member task force traveled around the state, meeting with supervisors of elections and voting-rights activists. The task-force members discovered several problems, among them: Florida lacked a statewide voter-registration system, making it hard to track voters as they moved from county to county; there were no statewide standards for ballot design or for how to count ballots during a recount; absentee voting was difficult; and the IBM computer systems many counties used to process punch-card ballots weren’t well designed. 

“We had a system that wasn’t designed to be looked at,” said Dave Carpenter, a longtime election official in southwest Florida. “When you started doing this stuff manually, sometimes it worked, sometimes it didn’t work. Sometimes a chad would dangle or hang, and sometimes when you would run it through a machine, the fan of the machine might blow a piece of the chad up and block a hole, because it was all based on holes and light.” 

Carpenter said that before 2000, election supervisors in Florida would often meet but rarely had detailed discussions about voting problems, instead chatting about their kids. “After 2000, there was a realization that everybody faced [voting] problems,” he said, “and people started being more collegial about it, more open about their experiences, and more interested in working with the other supervisors and with the legislature to actually do changes.”

The recommendations from the election task force ended up as the foundation for the Florida Election Reform Act of 2001, a sweeping reform bill that prohibited punch-card voting systems, provided $32 million for counties to purchase new voting equipment, and mandated extensive testing of that equipment before and after an election. It required uniformity in some aspects of ballot design, the creation of uniform recount standards, and a statewide voter-registration database. And it allowed for no-excuse absentee voting, provisional ballots, and early voting. 

“I think the most important thing that came out of all that was to make it more convenient for properly registered voters to vote,” Smith said.

Critically, the legislation also allowed election supervisors to begin canvassing mail-in ballots before Election Day. Mail-in ballots typically take longer to process, but states such as Pennsylvania and Wisconsin prohibit election officials from preprocessing their mail vote, even after more people started casting ballots by mail during the pandemic. 

Bush said the preprocessing of mail-in ballots is one reason Florida’s results come in faster than those in some other states. “Every state should do that,” he said.

Wesley Wilcox, the supervisor of elections in Marion County, in central Florida, said that while it took a few election cycles for some counties to get the hang of it, coordinating early voting and preprocessing mail-in ballots helped the state deliver timely results. “Because we can preprocess all of the other vote-by-mail, when the late-coming-in vote-by-mail are here, we can start virtually immediately on them,” said Wilcox, a past president of the Florida Supervisors of Elections association who also serves on national elections boards. 

While the 2001 reforms addressed the biggest structural problems with Florida’s election system, lawmakers have continued to make adjustments. In 2007, Bush’s successor as governor, Charlie Crist, pushed state lawmakers to replace the touch-screen voting machines introduced after 2000 with optical-scan paper-ballot tabulators. The change was meant to ensure there would be a paper-ballot trail in the case of a recount. 

There have also been some hiccups. In 2012, voters in several Florida counties had to wait in line up to six hours to cast ballots on Election Day. The lines were blamed on exceptionally long ballots in some counties — long-winded state-constitutional amendments translated into many languages — and legislation that reduced early voting from 14 days to eight. Lawmakers made fixes in 2013, restoring early-voting days and limiting the length of ballot initiatives.

Florida was back in the headlines in 2018, when the statewide races for governor, U.S. senator, and state agriculture commissioner went to a recount. But Broward and Palm Beach Counties — two South Florida counties at the center of the 2000 debacle — struggled to keep up with the rest of the state. Both counties missed the machine-recount deadline. 

Palm Beach County had only eight vote-counting machines, and the equipment, which had a history of problems, could recount only one race at a time. Broward County’s results were delayed through a combination of poor planning and inadequate staffing and equipment, a postelection audit found. Then-president Donald Trump and others claimed Democrats were trying to steal the election, “finding votes out of nowhere.” Republicans sued. The election supervisors in both counties were eventually removed from office. 

Bush blamed the problems in South Florida in 2018 on “ineptitude.”

Another issue: A flawed ballot design in deep-blue Broward — on some ballots the U.S. Senate race between then-governor Rick Scott and incumbent Democrat Bill Nelson was the only race listed below the ballot instructions — may have cost Nelson tens of thousands of votes and consequently the election.

After the election, Florida lawmakers crafted new bipartisan fixes to prevent a repeat, including a mandate that counties have vote-counting machines capable of conducting multiple recounts at once, and a requirement that voting instructions be centered across the top of the ballot or printed on the left side, with no races beneath.

Bush sees the 2018 voting problems in South Florida as localized issues that shouldn’t reflect on Florida generally. “We’ve had it right for 20 years,” he said. “It’s not [that we] finally got it right. We’ve had it right pretty consistently for a whole variety of reasons.”

Florida has other laws in place that help it to report results faster than states such as California. For example, most mail-in ballots must be in the elections office on Election Day to be counted. California, on the other hand, allows a grace period of a week for ballots postmarked by Election Day to arrive, and it gives voters a long time to cure signature problems. 

Florida gives voters two days after the election to cure signature mistakes on their mail ballots. “I’m a personal-responsibility guy,” Wilcox said. If getting a ballot in on time “is important to you, which it should be, then you’re going to go on and get it done.”

He said he believes it’s important for election officials to announce results confidently and quickly. “Our candidates like to have that closure. I think it’s important to the voters to have that closure,” said Wilcox, who praised the way the state managed its elections this year, despite getting whacked by a major hurricane in September and having another barreling down on the state on Election Day.

Bush said it’s “crazy” that vote-counting for some California elections hadn’t finished by the week of Thanksgiving. Allowing vote-counting to languish can increase the potential for fraud, he said, but more important, it can create uncertainty about the election process. “There’s no need for it. And in this environment, where everybody thinks the other side’s trying to break the rules, I think we need to avoid that.”

Bush also supported the changes Florida lawmakers made last year in the aftermath of the disputed 2020 election, including a ban on ballot-harvesting, standards for drop boxes, a prohibition on the mass-mailing of ballots, and additional ID requirements. Opponents described the measures as “voter suppression” and have challenged the law in court.

“There was a time when there was a problem, you fixed it. And everybody agreed the fix was the right thing to do,” Bush said. “Fast-forward to today and this time, the legislature and the governor passed, I think, pretty reasonable and certainly marginal improvements, and you’d think the world was going to come to an end. It’s Jim Crow all over again.”

“That’s more of a reflection of the environment we’re in rather than the actual law,” he added. 

Carpenter, in southwest Florida, said his office has spent an inordinate amount of time swatting down conspiracy theories about allegedly stolen votes, some issuing from a group affiliated with MyPillow executive Mike Lindell, a leading promoter of the 2020 stolen-election conspiracy. 

“It’s been rough on morale in every election office when you’ve got people out there accusing you of being cheats, and yet they have no evidence,” Carpenter said, noting that “none of them ever came and asked to see the ballots from 2020.”

Election officials said it’s taken time, and some trial and error, to develop a voting system that works for a large, urban county such as Miami-Dade, with more than 1.5 million voters, as well as for a small, rural county such as Liberty, with just over 4,000 voters. 

Carpenter said most Florida election managers are “pretty sharp.” They do a good job coordinating efforts and working with lawmakers to address issues, he said. He also credited county leaders for realizing the importance of well-run elections and budgeting for them.

“It’s a question of equipment and staff,” Carpenter said. “And Florida has gotten good at it.”

TOPICS: Constitution/Conservatism; Government; Politics/Elections; US: Florida
KEYWORDS: 2022midterms; bloggers; elections; electionz; electionzzz; elekchunz; fl; florida; nationalrepuke; nationalspew; nothanks; rinocentral; rondemitchschoice; rondesantis; ronofdeestablishment; ronofdegopee; ryanmills; tldr; votefraud
Navigation: use the links below to view more comments.
first 1-2021-4041-47 next last

1 posted on 12/03/2022 1:30:56 PM PST by Joe Brower
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | View Replies]

To: Joe Brower

And I would read something posted from National Review because?

2 posted on 12/03/2022 1:32:06 PM PST by AndyJackson
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: JulieRNR21; Travis McGee; AAABEST; kinganamort; katherineisgreat; floriduh voter; summer; ...

Florida Freeper

I'm compiling a list of FReepers interested in Florida-related topics.
If you want to be added, please FReepMail me.

3 posted on 12/03/2022 1:32:26 PM PST by Joe Brower ("Might we not live in a nobler dream than this?" -- John Ruskin)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: AndyJackson
"And I would read something posted from National Review because?"

Because, in spite of their rabid anti-Trump stance, a subject of which they don't deserve to be listened to, on other subjects, they do write thorough and insightful articles.

It's up to us to separate the wheat from the chaff. It's really not that tough.

4 posted on 12/03/2022 1:34:11 PM PST by Joe Brower ("Might we not live in a nobler dream than this?" -- John Ruskin)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 2 | View Replies]

To: Joe Brower

Good article. Thanks for posting.

5 posted on 12/03/2022 1:34:50 PM PST by Drew68 (Ron DeSantis for President 2024)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: mewzilla
Perhaps of interest, given your complaints about Florida in general and DeSantis in particular. Perhaps this will be informative.

Despite the lack of 100% perfection in Florida's voting system (something I don't see anywhere else, by the way), we did do quite a bit better than a lot of other states.

6 posted on 12/03/2022 1:39:20 PM PST by Joe Brower ("Might we not live in a nobler dream than this?" -- John Ruskin)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: Joe Brower

It’s not hard to count votes quickly unless you’re trying to rig the election. I grew up in Mississippi and can’t remember a time when we didn’t know the election results before going to bed. The law should mandate that all election results be turned in by midnight on Election Day, anything after that should be thrown out.

7 posted on 12/03/2022 1:49:15 PM PST by GaryCrow
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: Joe Brower
Mostly unknown fact: Florida runs Dominion Voting Systems. That's why Ron Desantis ran so close in his first race.

This article makes several valid points, but misses the work that happened behind the scenes to prevent vote flipping in '22. A final alliance of honest FBI agents and white hackers were able to penetrate Dominion's back door, and switch the data base recovery mode to read-only, effectively preventing vote flipping.

I expect this to go national after what DeSantis proved in Florida this year.
8 posted on 12/03/2022 1:49:51 PM PST by Observator
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: Joe Brower
"While vote-counting in other states was slow going and the results in several key races were still in doubt, Florida’s elections had seemingly gone off without a hitch. "

Other states are slow going and otherwise mismanaged by design.

9 posted on 12/03/2022 1:51:02 PM PST by Hatteras
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: Joe Brower

They may write some insightful articles, but this isn’t one of them. The Florida margin in 2020 was razor thin, but there was nothing wrong with the way they conducted their election. Like every other state at the time they counted the ballots and produced a result by the next day.

10 posted on 12/03/2022 1:51:51 PM PST by eclecticEel ("The petty man forsakes what lies within his power and longs for what lies with Heaven." - Xunzi)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 4 | View Replies]

To: Observator

“I expect this to go national after what DeSantis proved in Florida this year. “

And l expect you to be disappointed

11 posted on 12/03/2022 1:54:34 PM PST by gibsonguy ( )
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 8 | View Replies]

To: eclecticEel
Like every other state? You must have been watching a different election then.

Do you have any links to any articles that ARE insightful? I welcome additional input, if constructive, on this critical issue.

12 posted on 12/03/2022 2:00:29 PM PST by Joe Brower ("Might we not live in a nobler dream than this?" -- John Ruskin)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 10 | View Replies]

To: Joe Brower

Neil Oliver – ‘…the Great Reset power grab...’

Brilliant Neil Oliver monologue.

We don’t live in “democracies.” Please. We are just the gullible bug-sheep being herded into insect colonies by our WEF trans-national corporate “stake holders.”

Klaus Schwab and George Soros et al have not been hiding this. The presstitutes (90% of the MSM) who are in their direct or indirect pay do the truth hiding for them.

When you understand this, then Apple’s Tim Cook allied with the CCP’s Chairman Xi makes perfect sense. There is zero cog diss there, between Cook and Xi. They are joined at the hips, they are twins. They are Elite Overlords. We are their bug slaves. They give us a “blue-red-green-yellow” fake election every few years so we can make believe that we are free. But we are not free.

The only cog diss in our minds, the gullible bugs being herded into slave colonies by our elite globalist overlords. Neil Oliver lays this all out. Please send this to your red-pillable normie friends and family.

13 posted on 12/03/2022 2:06:41 PM PST by Travis McGee (
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: AndyJackson

Because this article is worth reading.

14 posted on 12/03/2022 2:07:48 PM PST by Jacquerie (
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 2 | View Replies]

To: Joe Brower


Just for the record, absentee ballots are different from mail in balloting a few ways.

Absentee must be requested by the voter, sent to their address on their driver’s license and signed. When the ballot arrives at the election’s supervisor to be counted, signatures must match.

Mail in balloting is state and Post Office etc fraud.


15 posted on 12/03/2022 2:07:51 PM PST by M Kehoe (Quid Pro Joe and the Ho got to go)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: Observator

I expect this to go national after what DeSantis proved in Florida this year.

It will never go national. Then again, it doesn’t have to. Two former ‘battle ground states’, Michigan and Pennsylvania, are no longer ‘battle ground states’ as they’re both completely controlled by the Democrats.

One elected a vegetable that has over 900k votes, in his hip pocket, before election day. A Republican will never win either state again.

16 posted on 12/03/2022 2:12:23 PM PST by qaz123
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 8 | View Replies]

To: Joe Brower

In the immediate aftermath of the mid terms there was some observation that the one place the Red Wave actually happened was FLA and it was because DeSantis locked down the cheating. Within a couple of days the MSM led by FNC crushed that story. It became “Ron’s positive messaging”. It was disgusting to watch the ladies on the couch all running the narrative they were fed by Ryan and the Murdoch kids just so they could keep their huge contracts. FNC is now dead to my wife now too.

17 posted on 12/03/2022 2:15:17 PM PST by gibsonguy ( )
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 4 | View Replies]

To: M Kehoe

You are correct, sir.

18 posted on 12/03/2022 2:23:28 PM PST by Joe Brower ("Might we not live in a nobler dream than this?" -- John Ruskin)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 15 | View Replies]

To: Joe Brower

I voted in Hillsbourogh County this year, it was a smooth and professional process.

I showed up at the polling station, there was a poll worker screening people, they directed me to one of a series of desks where I presented my drivers license, the poll worker caught that the DMV misspelled my name (I’ve had it for a year and never realized that the double consonant was a triple consonant on my DL. They asked for a different ID, I showed my retired military ID, the gave me a ballot and pen, then directed me to a booth.

Filled in the circles with the pen, then followed big signs to the ballot scanner, they scanned it and kept the paper copy as a back up, then I left.

Simple, clear, easy, and secure process. Jeb! (please clap) gets a lot of well deserved flak here, but he should get credit for initiating the process to clean up and secure Florida elections. Sometimes embarrassment is useful. Of course a place like California won’t do this, because they have no sense of shame there.

19 posted on 12/03/2022 2:28:14 PM PST by drop 50 and fire for effect ("Work relentlessly, accomplish much, remain in the background, and be more than you seem.")
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: Joe Brower

Are the voter rolls cleared of dead people? Until all voter rolls in every state are cleared, there’s no way you can have an honest election.

20 posted on 12/03/2022 2:37:10 PM PST by NTHockey (My rules of engagement #1: Take no prisoners. And to the NSA trolls, FU)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

Navigation: use the links below to view more comments.
first 1-2021-4041-47 next last

Disclaimer: Opinions posted on Free Republic are those of the individual posters and do not necessarily represent the opinion of Free Republic or its management. All materials posted herein are protected by copyright law and the exemption for fair use of copyrighted works.

Free Republic
Browse · Search
Topics · Post Article

FreeRepublic, LLC, PO BOX 9771, FRESNO, CA 93794 is powered by software copyright 2000-2008 John Robinson