The Canvassing Board is a group of local elected officials who oversee important parts of the election. This ensures that critical decisions about the election are made by a group rather than by a single person. For Florida State overview of Membership and activities, click here.
On Wednesday, October 19th the Canvassing Board Accuracy and Logic Test Meeting for the November 8th General Election was held in the Manatee County Supervisor of Elections office. Attending were myself, Tina Shope, a Democratic observer and Amy Farrington, Executive Director of the Florida Supervisor of Elections Association.
The Manatee County Canvassing Board members (including substitutes and alternates) are: Supervisor of Elections Michael Bennett, County Judge Melissa Gould, County Judge Renee Inman, Senior Judge Robert Farrance and Maggie D. Mooney, Esq. At least 3 board members need to be present and each signs every item that requires signature. On October 19th the attending members were Michael Bennett, Judge Melissa Gould, and Maggie Mooney.
The structure of the tests of voting machines accuracy was done along the same process and structural lines of testing computer equipment and new computer programs. As an information technology executive with experience managing Quality Assurance Departments, the day’s test appeared complete and valid. The test also demonstrated a division of authority similar to controls recommended by financial auditors to prevent errors and fraud.
As of the 19th, the Supervisor of Elections office had sent out approximately 109,000 mail-in ballots and about 24,000 had been received back. Of those 24,000 a combination of machine and human reviewers had identified less than 1,000 problem ballots. The Board reviewed procedures for counting mail-in ballots. Like problems were “packaged” together by type of problem for the Board to review each type individually in detail.
One type of problem reviewed was when the ballot signature had NOT been placed in the designated signature area on the envelope. Twenty seven ballots had envelopes that had been signed on the envelope and that signature matched the signature on file. The Canvassing Board was given 2 full samples (ballot & envelope) of this type of problem to physically review and was asked to decide two issues:
- Did they agree with and accept the staff recommendation to consider the ballot valid and count it in the official vote tally?
- Did they want to physically see/review every example of this type of issue or authorize staff to act on their behalf?
The Supervisor of Elections staff recommended accepting the ballot without a follow-up affidavit. The Board agreed on both questions to count the vote as valid and authorized staff to act on their behalf.
The entire meeting took approximately 3 hours. The Canvassing Board has 7 more meetings culminating in a post-election certification audit. To see the Manatee Canvassing Board meeting schedule click here.
by Ruth Harenchar, LWVMC Vice President