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Ms. Hill begins by describing the busy Election Day of 2000 and discusses the problem of phone
capacity and lack of space in the Supervisor of Elections Office (page 1-3). She then reviews the
automatic recount, advanced ballots, and the recount discrepancies (page 3-5). Ms. Hill notes
the features of the new Accu-Vote machines, especially the programming function which rejects
over-votes (page 6-7). On votes that were not counted, she describes the specific problems on
the ballots (page 7-8). She describes voter education attempts such as demonstrations and
sample ballots (9-11).
On pages 11-12, Ms. Hill discusses overall turnout, low student turnout, and the effect of the
Motor Voter bill. She considers the effects of absentee ballots (page 13-14). She recalls the
presence of Democratic and Republican organizers during the count of overseas votes and
discusses partisanship in the elections process, especially the role of the courts and Katherine
Harris (page 14-17). She examines the absentee ballot drive and the legality of its various
aspects, mentioning the ruling of Justice Nikki Clark (page 18-20). On pages 20-23, she
considers the issues surrounding felons and voting rights.
Ms. Hill discusses new voting technology, its financial implications, relevant legislation, and the
effect of redistricting (page 24-26). The problem of hiring enough elections staff and the
training and role of the poll workers are addressed (page 27-29). She reviews the new election
process that eliminates the second primary (page 29). Ms. Hill talks about the effect of the
media on the Supervisors after the election, referring specifically to Theresa LePore (page 30-
31). She shares her opinion on the role of voter responsibility in elections and calls for the Get
Out the Vote campaign to focus more on education (page 32-34).
Ms. Hill explains the technical aspects of a recount, her reaction to the Supreme Court's decision
to halt the recount, and the media's influence (page 35-37). She again identifies the problems
she experienced on Election Day, too few phones, too few workers, and lack of space (page 39).
She mentions the emotional toll of the experience, but says she believes the local media was fair
in their coverage (page 40-41). She notes that other states, if placed under such scrutiny, would
have experienced similar problems (page 41). She mentions the media's efforts at recounting,
and expresses surprise that less emphasis is placed on voting patterns (page 42-44). Ms. Hill
reviews the education pamphlet and notes the needed update, including revisions suggested by
the League of Women Voters (page 45-47). She ends the interview with a discussion of the
ballot design. (page 47-48).
Interviewee: Beverly Hill
Interviewer: Julian Pleasants
Date: May 17, 2001
P: This is May 17, 2001, and I am speaking with Beverly Hill in her office at the
supervisor of elections office in Gainesville, Florida. Would you tell me how you
first got interested in running for the job of supervisor of elections?
H: There was an opening. Buddy Irby told me he was not going to run again, and I
started thinking about it and decided to run for it.
P: And you had previous experience in city and county government, right?
H: Not in county government. I had been a city commissioner from 1986 to 1990,
and I lobbied for the city for two years. That is what I was doing when Buddy told
me he was not going to run. [Also] I had been very active in the League of
Women Voters for years.
P: You were first elected in 1992?
P: So, this is your third term.
H: Third term.
P: Could you talk about in general what it was like on Election Day, 2000?
H: It was extremely busy. We had 1,700 phone calls into this office, on these
phones. There are ten roll-over phones. We had a phone-bank of eight phones
upstairs. They received 1,100 calls. Over 300 people voted in the office, and so
we were overwhelmed. It was incredibly busy. We knew we had lines waiting.
The poll-workers were having trouble getting through to us. We had many, many
people who had not voted in a long time, who came to the wrong precinct or who
were not on the poll register for some reason or another, possibly because they
had not voted for awhile [and] they had changed their address somewhere along
the way and not told us. You understand, by law, if they had kept their address
the same, they would still have been on the poll-register. But if they moved and
did not tell us and then tried to go vote, they would not be on the poll-register. So
they were trying to get through for that.
P: One of problems that all these interviews indicate is that there was never enough
H: I guess you could put it that way, yes.
P: What can be done about that?
H: Well, I guess we could run a hundred phone lines in here, but I do not think that
is the [solution] either. I think people need to understand, and especially Get Out
the Vote campaigns, that people will not tell you, number one, that they are not
registered to vote, or, number two, they will not admit that they have not voted in
awhile and that they may not still be on poll-register. That is something I see is
more education, I guess, to voters that, by law, you are supposed to keep your
address current with us and we have to use the address we have. I know that
people do not realize that. A lot of people think that if they send a change of
address to the post office, that takes care of everything it absolutely does not. I
do not even think the post office sends that on to Dillards or to Burdines or to
Sears, wherever you might have a charge account. They do not know those
things. The post-office is just the post-office, and most of our stuff, by law, is not
forwardable. Anything we are mailing out of this office, when it goes out, it comes
back if you are not there, and that is a trigger for us to figure out that you are not
here anymore. The voter needs to keep up their address with us, which is a real
simple procedure, and I guess they need to know they need to do that. Then, I
think the Get Out the Vote campaigns need to realize that they may be trying to
get out the vote among people who really are not registered anymore and they
are going to have a problem. A little footwork on their part ahead of time, I think,
might... In fact, we are trying to urge groups that are getting out the vote or the
parties to take a look at our inactive rolls and see if they can get those people,
find them, and see if they still want to be on the voting rolls and get them active
again before these elections. I could probably get in twice as many phone lines,
and it might help.
P: Part of the problem, of course, is everybody waits until Election Day to deal with
H: Yes, they do.
P: What sort of other problems did you have on Election Day?
H: We did not. Our election went very smoothly, actually. The big problems were the
phone-lines, which were ringing constantly, and the number of people we had
voting in the office. That is a phenomenon that just mushroomed with this
election. It beats me, because you know the complaints about parking downtown.
There is no parking outside my office. They had to wait forty-five minutes in line,
which they would not have had to do at the polls, but they wanted to vote here,
which is not a polling place; it is just the office of supervisor of elections. Over
300 people voting here that is more than in some of my smaller precincts.
P: So it is okay for them to vote here?
H: Yes, it is. Space in this building is just nonexistent, but the county manager has
told me that there is an office on the other side of this building that they are going
to turn into a conference room, and I can have that conference room from July
through the end of November to use for absentees, to try to get that whole
operation out of here, so that the same people that are answering the phones are
not having to work the counter, and that is what happened.
P: When did you first realize that this was going to be an extraordinary election?
H: Oh, I do not know. I guess the first question is, did I realize this was going to be
an extraordinary election? Not necessarily.
P: Well, by the next day, it was pretty clear that Florida was a critical part of this
P: Did you automatically start getting phone-calls from the press and people
H: Do you mean the day after the election?
H: No. I was not watching TV the night before. I was not aware. I woke up in the
middle of the night and had my radio on, and they were saying that there was
going to be a state-wide recount, which really surprised me, because nothing
was close here in this county. When I came into the office, there was someone
from the Republican party standing at my counter, you know, waiting for us to
P: What happened when the automatic recount was triggered?
H: Unfortunately, we had a canvassing-board meeting scheduled for noon on
Wednesday, because we did an unofficial count the night before, and we still had
109 advanced-ballots. We had over 10,000 absentees, and they had all been
counted. The only ones that had not been released by 9:00, or whatever time it
was that night, were the absentees, and we still had those 109 advanced-ballots
to duplicate, which I have since learned about duplication boards. You get people
in, and they sit here all day and duplicate ballots. But the canvassing board was
doing all that by themselves. By that time at night, it was going to take another
couple of hours to duplicate those ballots and run them through. We just made
the decision that we would go unofficial now and release the 10,000 absentee
votes we had and then add them in by hand the next day. We would duplicate
them the next day. So we had the 109 advanced-ballots to duplicate.
P: For the record, what is an advanced-ballot?
H: Everybody who lives overseas gets two ballots from us. One is what is called an
advanced-ballot, and it has to be sent out before the second primary, and it is a
paper ballot, the way we do it. Now, all counties might not do that, but we send
out a paper ballot and then we send them a real ballot, so they actually get two
after those real ballots. Well, the advanced-ballots that we had are the ones
where they do not return the real ballot, they just return the paper one. But to
count it on the machine, you have to duplicate it onto a real ballot, and that takes
a long time to do that. And we wait. See, we do not know, and we wait until the
last pick-up of mail on Election Day before we go to the trouble of duplicating all
of those, thinking that their real ballot may come in, and 109 of them did not. So,
we had those to do.
P: But they are still qualified votes, right?
H: Oh, yes. Yes, they are on our rolls.
P: And you cannot hand-count them; you still have to machine-count?
H: You do not have to. We did not end up machine-counting them. We had the 109
advanced-ballots that we duplicated. We did not get done until Thursday
afternoon. Also, with our system, there are sometimes ballots from the polling
place that are unscanned for one reason or another. Sometimes it is just that
they do not override the ballot at the polling place. If someone has got a torn
ballot, and if they had looked at that, they could have issued them another ballot
and that would have gone on through. Just different things, but there were 151
ballots altogether; there were 109 advanced, and there were some unscanned
ballots, and then we had to look at the write-ins. We did an absentee audit of the
envelopes Wednesday morning and found five ballots in the envelopes, so we
had those in there. When the canvassing board met at noon, they started doing
P: When you did a recount, what exactly did you do?
H: We ran our tapes against each other to see if they still said the same thing.
P: So you did not do a hand-recount?
H: No. Now, that was not supposed to be a hand-recount that day. We did recount
one precinct, precinct 42, which matched...
P: So, you just retabulated your totals.
P: You did not put all of them back through the...
H: No, we did not put them all back through.
P: Clay Roberts [Florida Supervisor of Elections] indicated that when he said it was
a recount, that they intended for everybody to put all the ballots back through the
tabulation machine, and I know that some did and some did not. Was that
unclear? Obviously, it was...
P: ...because some people, when they said recount, did not know exactly what was
H: I waited until about 10:30 Wednesday morning to hear from the [Florida] Division
of Elections, and we finally did get a fax. It just said, pursuant to, you know,
wherever it said do the recount did not have any instructions with it. I started
calling around some of the other counties, and some were going to do it the way
we did it, and so I got the county attorney and said, can we do it this way, and it
was his opinion that we could. We did not really discuss it in the canvassing
board. I mean, it went kind of fast.
P: Were there any discrepancies in the recount?
H: No. Now, we did have to recount one of our precincts, because the memory card
would not run again, would not produce the tape again. So we did recount that
one, and that was the same as it was.
P: Let me talk about over-votes and under-votes. My information is that you had
about 102 over-votes, and the under-votes were 225.
P: Which seems, out of, what, 87,000 voters...
H: 86,000, yes.
P: ...is quite a small number.
H: Yes, it is real low.
P: So you are delighted that you got Accu-Vote [voting machine].
H: Oh, absolutely, because at the polling place on Election Day, 2,600 people had
spoiled ballots. We had 2,600 spoiled ballots, or even more than that maybe,
from Election Day, which meant that many people over-voted, in the presidential
[election] probably, and the ballot popped out and they got new ballots. That is
what contributed to that. We were just so fortunate with that function on our
machine. It just saved us.
P: Why did you decide to go to Accu-Vote?
H: We went to Data-Vote in 1982, I guess, which is, you know, I have got a whole
stack of little cards there, and it is printed on the ballot. They switched from
voting machines to Data-Vote. So, it had been since 1982, and in 1996, I started
looking. I had a citizens' committee and all kinds of committees looking at these
different machines. There were the two, the Opti-Tech Eagle and the Accu-Vote.
In 1996, after I had all my committee meetings and all the information, I just
decided by 1997 that I did not know what I wanted [and] I was not ready to switch
systems, that we would stay with our little system, I called it, and get more card-
counters, card-readers for 1998, which is what we did. Data-Vote is a nice
system, [but] we were outgrowing it. We had five ballot cards in 1998. It was just
an overwhelming number, even for twelve card-readers. (No, how many did we
have? I think we had eight card-readers set up.) It was just a huge amount of
ballots. The card-readers were constantly going down.
P: Plus, that is expensive.
H: The ballots are expensive, yes.
P: But then the time for people to...
H: Well, yes. It took us until midnight. But our card-readers, you know, there were a
couple of elections we were down to two card-readers and praying over them so
we could get done with the count. I knew after 1998, it was just time. We were
too big a county anymore. Brevard [County], actually, which is much larger than
ours, was still on Data-Vote as well. They changed the same time we did to
Accu-Vote. So, after 1998, I really started looking. We did not do a committee. I
brought the county commission along with me, too. They knew what the
problems were, they knew what I was looking at, they had seen demonstrations
of the systems. I did a request for a proposal, which was, I thought, a really good
way to do it. You know, we just had all our specs [specifications]. We did not
design the specs so that only one system would work and so we would end up
with a sole source or anything like that. We had them all come in, and by that
time, there was a third system, too, what is called AIS, which is the scan-system
you have read about, where they are tabulated at the central-count. It is fill-in-
the-bubble, but they do not go through the scanner at the precinct. They come
back and go through the central count.
P: Yours are precinct-counted?
H: Yes. So, we looked at all of them. We had them all come in, do full presentations,
spent two days with us. Then the staff evaluated where they did their own little
evaluation and ranked the different systems. Accu-Vote turned out the highest
points, and so that is what we went with, which has turned out well. One of the
problems for us with the Opti-Tech system, it has a central-count card-reader that
is huge. When it got delivered out in the hall, I thought, I know right now that is
not going to fit in here. We did not have any room for it. It is just enormous. It
would have taken that whole room over there. So, that was something the
Eagles were much heavier than the Accu-Vote for the poll- workers to carry. And,
instead of filling-in-the-bubble, which people are used to, you connect the arrow.
Now, there are counties [who use it]; Orange County uses it, and Clay [County]
does. As many counties use Opti-Tech as use Accu-vote. In fact, the campus
uses Eagle. They only have three of them, and they do them centrally anyway.
But Accu-Vote, the system now, has what is called a visible- light read-head. It is
the same read-head at the polling place, and it is the same read-head where you
do your absentees. The Eagle has a different infrared read-head at the precincts
and the visible-light read-head for the absentees. So, to have that different read-
head, that is playing out in some counties around. I think Orange County had a
whole bunch of ballots that looked like they should have read, but they were
done with pencil or they were done with Magic Marker or something like that, and
the read-head did not pick them up. We did not have that problem. Ours will pick
up anything. You can even do it with purple and red, actually. In a given situation,
it might read that.
P: As long as it is done in the right place.
H: As long as it is done in the right place, right. So that is why we picked the Accu-
Vote. That is a programming function. Read in the paper, like, there is a little
switch where you turn off the rejection button or something like that, but it is a
P: Talk about that. Two counties actually did that [that is, switched off the button
that rejected over-votes] during the campaign and said they did it to speed up the
lines and save money.
P: What was your reaction to that?
H: You know, you make decisions at a time when you are really under pressure to
make decisions. I did not do that. We had the reject. I can imagine myself making
that decision, but we did not. But it just saved us. There is no doubt about that.
P: But it seems unusual to pay for this new system when the purpose of it is to allow
people to have a second ballot and then to turn off that mechanism.
H: Yes, that is true. Like I said, it is just a little programming function, and you got to
watch and make sure it is on, make sure it is going to do that. So, for us, that was
good. But that is why we picked the Accu-Vote.
P: I have seen two different figures for the cost of the Accu-Vote. I have seen
$495,000 and $395,000.
H: Oh, it is $395,000. Yes, that was my fault; I kept thinking we paid $500,000
[when] we only paid $400,000. We got a deal, as it turned out.
P: I was going to say, based on what I know, that seems to be in the long run more
efficient, because it saves you all kinds of problems, and particularly in this
H: Yes, it did. It is not as easy as it sounds. The punch-card counties are going to
find out, I think, there is a lot more work ahead of time. There is just a lot more
work to the system than there was. I know during this election, I thought, I just
crank up those card-readers, run those cards through, and that little old system
we had, you know, you are done in an hour and a half. This one, if you do a
recount, you have to put those ballots through again, and that takes a long time.
P: How accurate do you think the Accu-Vote system is?
H: It is real accurate, you know, if it is marked right. It picks up everything. Now,
ours picked up X's and checkmarks, not all of them, but it picked up some of
P: When you looked at the under-votes, what normally was the circumstance? Why
did it not pick up those?
H: In most cases, there was not anything to pick up. Out of the 225 under-votes,
170 were blank. They just did not vote in the presidential election. They voted in
other races, but they did not vote in the presidential race, 170 of those. There
were fifty-five where they tried to do something. You probably saw the pictures in
the paper where they had put X's over the __ marks or they had made their
own little circles or drew a line around or drew a line through [or] whatever they
did. You would be able to see that if you did a manual count, and you would be
able to determine intent most times. But they just did not mark it right. So, we had
fifty-five of those ballots, I believe.
P: And those ballots, you could determine intent?
H: Yes. Now, we did not, the canvassing board did not see them, but when the
newspaper reviewed those... These were coming from the precincts, most of
them. I am trying to think how many. The canvassing board was here all day
Election Day. I had a really hard-working canvassing board.
P: While we are on that, can you tell me who else is on the canvassing board?
H: It is usually a county court judge, the chairman of the county commission, and
the supervisor of elections, but in this case, everybody on the county commission
was working on a campaign or running themselves. So, they appointed J.T.
Frankenberger, an attorney, and Phyllis Kotey was the judge. As we were putting
the absentees through on Election Day, anything that rejected, they would see,
we would give it right to them, and they would make a decision either to duplicate
it, because they could tell what the intent was or, if it was an over-vote and
forty-eight of those 102 over-votes were in the absentees [ballots], so the
canvassing board actually saw forty-eight of those 102 over-votes and made a
P: Most over-votes voted for...
H: Voted for two, yes. If they, say, colored in the oval for Gore and then colored in
the oval for write-in and wrote Gore, they duplicated that ballot and gave it to
Gore. Those kind of things were not in that forty-eight.
P: When you have the voter sign in when they register, I know in some counties
they actually have them fill in a bubble.
H: Yes, we have that.
P: Do you think that helps?
H: Yes, I do. In fact, we had it on there, and I expect that in November some of the
poll-workers were able to do that and some were not, either because they were
too busy or they were shy, you know, whatever. But when we had our March
election, we emphasized really strongly that the poll-worker is really the first line
of voter education. They are the people who really see every single voter, and
they are to do and we will keep educating them, we will keep instructing them
this way when somebody signs in, make them fill in the bubble, and if they
check it or put an X through it, say, no, that is not how this system works, you
must fill in the bubble. Ron Cunningham [editor, Gainesville Sun] came in on
election night, March 20, and said, I did not know you were allowed to give
people tests before they voted. I looked at him, you know, what? He said, they
made me fill in a bubble. So at his precinct, the poll workers were really diligent.
When I talk about that sometimes, I will have somebody say, well, I voted March
20, and nobody asked me to fill in the bubble. So I always ask them what
precinct they voted in, and we will find out about that.
P: Now when you have poll workers at the precinct, do you have any other visual
aides as to how to vote, a sign or...?
H: Yes. We did not have these in November but we have... We had ballots that were
demonstration ballots in November, where, if you had a problem, you could go to
the demonstrator and they would show you how to do it. The people who did
over-voting, who voted, for example, for all of the presidential candidates, did not
have any trouble filling in the bubble. They did a really careful job of that. They
just filled in all the ovals. It was not a mechanical problem for them. I think
literacy had a lot to do with it, to tell you the truth, but, you know, it was some
other kind of problem. But now, we have made a poster which hangs on the wall,
and it says, to make your ballot count, here is how you do it, and it is much more
graphic. We will have that hanging on the wall. With the big elections, we will
probably even have to go to an extra person there who sits there and says, let
me show you how to do this. We will have to decide whether that is something
we have to do or not.
P: You obviously have to be careful with that, because it could be an insult to
H: Right. Yes, and it is. Many of the things that you do by law is insulting to people. I
hear it, I am an educated person and someone asked me if I needed assistance.
Well, this was a case of a woman who had come to the polling-place with her
daughter. You know, you are not supposed to take anybody in the booth with
you, and [she] had her daughter in there. The poll-worker went over as she was
instructed and just said, do you need assistance? And the woman just blew up.
Now, here is another thing [she said]: my daughter's high school teacher told her
to go to the polling place with her mother and watch. It is like, why don't these
teachers check on what the law is? You cannot get around to everything and
know everything that is going to possibly happen, but, yes, people do get
insulted. But the first person we saw who made checkmarks on the whole ballot
was an attorney who came in here. It was not what you might think; it was a local
attorney who came in to vote at the counter, voted with checkmarks and laid his
ballot on the Accu-Vote and walked out. Fortunately, somebody saw that. We
grabbed up the ballot, ran after him, made him come back and fill in his ballot
right. But people just do not pay attention.
P: Plus, you also send out sample ballots.
P: How far ahead of time do you do that?
H: About two weeks ahead of time. We have to wait for our official count, until we
know how many voters we have.
P: Do you think people actually read that?
H: Yes, they do. A lot of them do, and it is exactly as it will appear. The ballot looks
just like it has got the oval there. Yes, and we hear from a lot of people. See, and
on this one, now, we had "Very Important, New Voting System." This was for
March 14, 2000. That was the presidential-preference primary.
P: One thing that has always intrigued me as a university professor is why so few
students vote. Why do you think that is, and how can you encourage them to
H: Well, I do not know. There are several factors there. One is, they are not all
registered here. Just like there are a lot of families here whose children go off to
college, they stay registered here, their parents make sure they have ballots,
make sure they know what the issues are and who the candidates are and make
sure they vote, I expect there are a lot of kids who live here whose parents are
active at home and are going to keep their kids voting at home. So some of them
just do not vote here. The ones who do, I do not know why they do not vote. It
would seem to me, especially in local elections, they would be very vocal
because it is the fliers on telephone polls, it is the rave issue, it is everything that
they get upset about and go to City Hall over, they still do not turn out to the
polls. The city, for example, has a law where they set their elections so it is not
during UF or Santa Fe spring break, and then also the public schools, so that it
has to be there. I happen to shop at a Publix [grocery store] where a lot of
students shop. If I go in on Sunday and the Publix is not full after a spring break, I
know that they will not be voting because they are not back in town yet. They will
come back on Monday; if I go in Monday night and it is crowded, they will not
know until Tuesday or Wednesday that Election Day was Tuesday. I mean, they
just are not geared. There have been student campaigns which have tried to
accommodate that, that said we are going to bus all these people in from campus
down here to vote ahead of time. Nobody showed up. I do not know why they do
not. Of course, when I went to college, you could not vote until you were twenty-
one, and I do not necessarily think that is a bad thing. You know, we were in
college; you graduate, and all of a sudden, you are a citizen of the world, of the
country. You said, ooh, I am twenty-one, I am going to go register to vote. Then
you voted the rest of the time. You know, you did not have to worry about it when
you were in college, and maybe that is an issue they do not really want to worry
P: What percentage of turnout of the voters did you have [in Alachua County] in the
H: 71 percent.
P: Is that higher than normal?
H: It is not bad, I guess. In 1992, which was Clinton, Bush and Perot, it was 86.5
percent turnout here of the registered voters. That was just an all-time high,
really, really big. 1996 was actually a 69 percent turnout, and that was Dole and
Clinton, which people were not really excited over that one. This one was only 2
percent higher than that small turnout.
P: What percentage would that be of the eligible voters?
H: We do not exactly know how many eligible voters we have. I just did a statistical
thing I am working on. I have got some things out there. We took the census. I
mean, the only time you can do this is right now, and the census is kind of out-of-
date already anyway. But if you take the number of people there are in Alachua
County with the number of voters there are in Alachua County. Then we got the
statistics for [people] over-eighteen [years of age]. We have probably, I forget, 60
or 70 percent of the people who would be eligible, who were over eighteen. Now,
some of those over eighteen may be registered somewhere else, even though
they are residents here, or they may not be citizens, or they may be felons. You
just do not know, the ones that are over eighteen, if they are all eligible or not. I
did that so I could show people where the problems were and where we needed
to work on registration. The Democratic Executive Committee had invited me to
come speak about re-districting the other night, so I also took that and said, here
are your target areas, where you should go; here is a job for you for the next
couple years, getting this voter-registration up, because we cannot do it by
ourselves, but people who want to go register people to vote. On campus, they
are constantly having voter-registration drives, so they love to register to vote.
They really do, but they just do not turn out.
P: How much impact did the Motor Voter bill have on registration?
H: In 1995, we got an immediate pop that kind of lifted up the number of voters we
had, and it has leveled off. It is more than we used to get. It is a good thing. It
was very helpful to us to get all these people registered who went through the
driver's license, who go to all these other agencies. Library is one of the best
things for people. We did a statistical one year on who actually voted out of the
different Motor Voter groups, and the highest turnout was among people who
mailed in their voter registration, which, I think, that takes more effort. You know,
you are not just somewhere where they are doing it anyway. You have to get
yourself the card, you have to fill it out and mail it in. So those people really
wanted to register. They might not be able to get here, they might not get to a
drive[-in], but they want to register to vote, and they have the highest percent
turnout. Then the people who registered at the library, and, I think, then driver's
license turnout. Just two out of Motor Voter turned out, but Motor Voter, since we
have got more voters, we have a smaller percentage of turnout.
P: Let us talk a little bit more in general terms about the election. Should election
officials, particularly the [Florida] Attorney General and [Florida] Secretary of
State, stay out of partisan politics? Obviously, the secretary of state [Katherine
Harris] was campaigning for Bush.
H: She came to one of our meetings and told us about that. You probably heard that
story. Now that this has all happened, it did not look good, but they have done
that forever. It always looked to me like your top state officials kind of split it up
somehow that, if there was a presidential primary, there was somebody who was
working on one candidate campaign and someone who was working on another
campaign, so that whichever person won, there was someone in Florida who had
worked on that campaign and had the connection. Probably for a direct election
official, you probably should not.
P: Certainly gives an appearance of [bias].
H: Exactly. It certainly did.
P: Should election supervisors be non-partisan?
H: We have always supported that. I do not know why they [the Florida Legislature]
did not go ahead and do that. I mean, I think you should be non-partisan whether
you run non-partisan or whatever.
P: Well, that is the concept, certainly. And your board, you are a Democrat?
P: And Phyllis Kotey is a Democrat.
H: I think so. Probably. I do not know, to tell you the truth.
P: And Frankenberger is, what, a Republican?
H: I do not know. I did not look either of them up.
P: Should supervisors be appointed, rather than elected?
H: I do not really care, but who would do the appointing? That is the big question. I
know there is, what, one in the state who is appointed Dade [County]. Is there
another one? David Leahy in Dade is appointed, and I think he has always done
a very fine job, and I think until this year, no one ever mentioned that he ought to
be elected. So the people seem to want the supervisors to be elected, and other
P: One question that I wanted to ask, when you did your recount, the total ended up
being sixty-five more votes for Gore and sixty-two more for Bush. Was that
primarily from absentees?
H: Yes. There were a total of 151 109 of them were advanced; there were the five
that we found that were in the absentee envelopes; there were thirty-some that
were unscanned ballots from the precinct.
P: During the election and immediately after, were you in any way influenced by
local politicians, pressured by any representatives of the parties?
H: Not really. Now, they were here; they lived in this office. Republicans more than
Democrats they seemed to probably be better-organized statewide to do that or
something, I do not know. All through, we had somebody here, seemed like all
the time, especially the week before the 17th of November [when] we were going
to count the overseas ballots. I had two people sitting right out here the whole
day. They would come at 8:30, they would sit down, and they were watching.
P: When you counted, obviously they observed.
P: Was there any influence/pressure then?
H: Oh, yes, then there was. That was the biggest thing for those, what, fifty-six
ballots that we had. That took us six or seven hours to decide which ones to
count because they were making objections, they were making protests.
P: Both sides?
H: Yes, both sides. We had the two people who homesteaded out here that last
week before the 17th there was a Democrat and a Republican and it was
interesting [that] they changed people. I mean, one person did not stay from the
day after the election clear through. They were flying people in and out.
P: These were not local?
H: No, they were not local. They were brought in. I am trying to think where they
were from. The Republican guy was from somewhere in Texas. He was here,
and then he went somewhere else. They moved them around the state so that
they were in different counties, depending on what was going on.
P: But we did not have here in Alachua County any of the kind of crowd, noise, that
they had in Palm Beach or Dade.
H: No, we did not.
P: There was nothing in that context.
H: Hm-mm [no]. We had probably thirty people in here Wednesday and Thursday
after the election, from both the Republicans and the Democrats, who watched
what we did.
P: There is, in the national press, a certain assumption and partly, I think, this had
to do with Palm Beach and maybe Carol Roberts and some other places that
supervisors and canvassing boards would be partisan, that if it was all
Democrats, they would vote for Gore. How do you react to that?
H: That is so untrue. There is not a supervisor in his or her right mind who would be
partisan in their conduct of their job; they would be removed. You just do not do
that. Nobody in this state I know of would behave that way. It is so unfair [to]
anybody who is getting criticized. You know, you like your job better than you like
your party, I think, and we are probably all old enough that we have seen it
comes and goes. So, if you do not like it this year, well, vote them out next year,
or something like that. No supervisor I know of would do that. I mean, just being
very practical about it, if you do, somebody will run against you the next time.
You go to make everybody happy, so you got to do it right.
P: Plus, the whole world is watching.
H: Yes, exactly. So I just think that was nonsense.
P: In this context, would you say that Secretary of State Katherine Harris was
objective in her decision-making?
H: I do not know. I have said that I probably would have done the same thing that
she did, in that here is what the law says and let a judge tell me that I have done
it wrong. That is kind of my philosophy, actually, and maybe that is because I
[have] a law degree, and it is like, okay, go to court, that is a good idea; let us
find out, let a judge say this and this and this is what you are supposed to do.
However, when I say that to people, they come back, and I think rightly so, and
say, well, she could have done it the other way; interpret it this way and let a
judge tell you that you are wrong. Probably you could use that law either way, let
them file later, not let them file late and all this kind of stuff.
P: Because the law says that you "shall" certify the votes, and then later on, it says
you "can" certify, so it is not very clear.
H: Right, it is not clear. This is legislature-in-their-wisdom-type stuff, because even
the brightest and the best of staff is not going to see if they do not run elections,
not going to see every little word in there that contradicts each other.
P: Judge Burton in Palm Beach, who was the head of the canvassing board, was
very upset with Harris's decision not to accept the Palm Beach count which was
two hours late. They had applied to [Florida Supervisor of Elections] Clay
Roberts for an extension, and it was denied. The issue for him was that they
could have and normally would have had hours beginning Monday, and yet they
would not normally be open at 5:00 on Sunday. He thought that was partisan.
P: Now, he said other decisions were according to the law. Or, and another option
here is wait for the ten-day vote for the absentees, just wait to count all of them at
H: Right. Well, see, that does not make sense at all, that ten-day period where you
are certifying ahead of time. You may be counting those votes, but they do not
count, do they? That is essentially what we have done in the past. You know,
they get credit for voting, but nobody pays attention to their votes, except this
P: So by certifying early, that is partisan?
H: I do not think it is partisan; I just think it is bad law. But I do not know. I mean, the
[Florida?] Supreme Court said, if she was not, if the office was not open on
Sunday. I mean, why did they do that?
P: I guess that was Judge Lewis' decision.
H: I do not know what that was, but I thought that was a strange thing.
P: That was a strange option.
H: Yes, I thought so, too.
P: Normally, you would count them when your office opens for a regular workday.
H: Right. But, see, that is another what did it mean, and that is where you can take
both sides I am going to decide it means this, that I can take these things on
Monday, and let the court tell me I cannot; or, I am going to say this, it means I
have to be open, if I am open on Sunday, then I cannot take them Monday, and
let the court tell me otherwise. You know, it is one of those choices of
interpretation of law, and I do not know whether she was being partisan or not. I
am sure she wanted Bush to win. She had been campaigning for him in New
Hampshire. She told us all about that at our supervisor's meeting.
P: Do you think Governor Jeb Bush was objective during this whole period?
H: He probably was not, but I do not think he had any decisions to make, did he?
P: Well, he did recuse himself from the elections commission.
P: So, he gave up his position on that.
P: Obviously, he had a personal stake; the question is, in the end he made
comments that if the election were not clarified by the recounts, then it would
have to go to the Florida legislature. A lot of people saw that as being partisan.
H: I guess. I do not know. I was not following it all, to tell you the truth.
P: Let us talk about absentee-ballots. The standard is that there has to be a
H: The overseas ones, yes.
P: And obviously there was this issue of the military some were at sea and could
not get a postmark. How did you deal with that?
H: Well, it was not that there had to be a postmark. It was that it had to be dated or
[have] a postmark before the election so that it could be counted. In fact, that is
one thing I did watch on television one night. Jim Smith, who was a former
Secretary of State, whom I think did a good job, was on television explaining the
law. I took notes, because I thought he was doing a good job explaining the law,
and he said exactly what I think it is, it has to have a postmark or be dated [from
prior to Election Day]. That is very clear, and I think that is what the law says, and
that is what we ended up doing, if it was postmarked or dated. [End of Side 1,
P: You were saying you turned them down.
H: Yes. We turned them down. Even though I think we had some pressure on us to
say, well, obviously, if it got here on Monday or it got here the day after election
from Germany, it had to have been voted before the election. Yes, but where do
you stop making assumptions like that? So I think that we tried to be very
consistent, and I think we were, all along, in that.
P: Why has there been such an increase in absentee ballots?
H: There has been an incredible increase, and I think for 2002, we may get half our
voters voting absentee. I guess because people cannot get to the polls, maybe.
Well, there is also this: there has been a big upsurge in campaigning for people
to vote absentees. Now the Republicans have been doing that since 1988, and
why the Democrats did not catch on sooner, I do not know. As I understand it,
the Connie Mack [U.S. Senator from Florida] race [the 1986 senatorial race
versus Buddy MacKay], that was the secret to that, this absentee-ballot turnout.
P: Particularly in Hillsborough [and Pinellas] County.
H: Evidently. That was what did that. But we have always gotten, not like what we
got this time, but we knew the Republicans would send out those cards
statewide. For maybe a week, we would get 100 cards a day, and then it would
taper off. That was the kind of thing we had before, but this time, you know, with
12,000. Every campaign was doing Get Out the Vote with absentees.
P: Do you have to have a specific reason to get an absentee ballot?
H: There was nothing on the ballot certificate that said a reason. The statute defined
an absentee voter as someone who could not get to the polls, someone who was
sick, someone [because of] their religion, that sort of stuff. But also at the end,
the last reason was I may not be able to get to my polling place on election day.
P: So, anybody could apply.
H: Yes, and now they have just taken all that out, so any voter may vote absentee.
P: So, what you do is when you get an absentee request, you check the signature
and the address, and if that is correct, then they are authorized to vote absentee.
H: Yes. When we get an absentee-ballot back, they have to have signed, they have
to have had a witness with an address. All you do is look, do they have a witness
with an address? Yes. We do not do any checking on who that witness is or
whether that is a legitimate address. Then we compare the signature with the
one we have on file. But the request, you know, we did not say why do they want
to vote absentee. We just sent them out.
P: Does that not create a great opportunity for fraud?
H: Absentees, I always tell people who want to do absentee-ballot drives, this is the
greatest opportunity for fraud. You have to understand that you could be accused
of fraud at the drop of a hat by any little thing you do. You know, you can go
ahead and do your drive, but you have to understand that this is the big
opportunity for fraud. Yes, sure it does, but people are not allowed to just come in
and get ballots for others. You can only pick up two. We let people do drives in
that they have a signature sheet and people sign, but we mail the ballot right to
the voter. We never let any of the people who are doing drives... They will
sometimes sign up people, who are not even registered to vote, to vote
absentee. They do not care who signs. They are not being particular about who
signs their sheet. They have to have that information that is required by law, they
have to have the signature of the voter, and we consider that to be a request
from the voter, not a request from the person who is bringing in that sheet, and
then we mail out those ballots to the voter.
P: Let us take the case of Sandy Goard [elections supervisor] in Seminole County. I
am certain that, from what I know, she was short-staffed, and she allowed the
representatives of the Republican party to actually come in the office and put in
the voter identification numbers.
P: Do you think that was illegal or unwise?
H: Unwise, absolutely. I will tell you what the rest of us did: if we could identify the
voter, we sent them a ballot. Sandy is a stickler for following the law. She is. I
know that is how she operates. She is very precise about everything and does it
well. This was just one of those things which, when those cards start to come in,
some of them have that voter ID and some of them do not. Now, most of the
campaigns would say on their card, this is required by law. But there was nothing
on that which said your voter ID number was required by law. There was nothing
on that card.
P: But it is [required by law].
H: Yes, it is. I think it is not anymore. I think the new law took it out of there again,
because who memorizes their voter ID number? Where the Republicans had that
number when they had it was in the return address, so there was nothing to
indicate to the voter that, oh my gosh, my voter ID number is not on here, I better
put it on. So the voter was the innocent party and did not know. They thought
they were requesting an absentee ballot. They did not know what they needed,
so they were the innocent party. That is the way I felt. It is the voter making the
request, [and] if we can identify that voter, and then when that ballot comes back,
that signature matches...
P: Your objective is to encourage people to vote.
P: But it also happened in Martin County, similar sort of situation.
P: In the court cases the judge, Judge Nikki Clark, for example, allowed those votes
to be counted do you think that was a correct decision?
H: Oh, sure. I do not see how you could possibly have thrown out the votes. It was
innocent voters, and you cannot throw out. They, in good faith, requested an
absentee-ballot, were not told that they needed any more information on that,
and so you cannot throw out, you cannot pick and choose which ballots, by that
point, you are going to throw out because they did not have their voter ID
number. I think in the end, the reason the legislature implements things like that
is to try to prevent fraud. But I can imagine me standing up before a judge, and
the judge [saying], Mrs. Hill, this name, do you have this person on the rolls?
Yes, Your Honor, I do. Was that their correct address? Yes, it was. Did you have
any trouble identifying this signature? No, I did not. But you denied them the right
to vote? Well, yes, because they did not have that number. I can always go
through those little scenarios and say, you know, what are they going to do in the
end? Yes, you are right; I did not follow the law on some of those that did not
have the voter ID number. But it was not the voter's fault; they did not even know
they had to have the ID number. So, if I could identify the voter... In some cases
you could not. They had some faulty lists, some of the campaigns, with voters not
in our county or voters who had wildly different addresses where the name was
common enough that we were never sure that was the right voter. So we were
able to sort those out.
P: Talk about the felon list. There was a list going around which turned out to be
rather inaccurate. How did you respond to using that list?
H: The first list came three weeks before the first primary in 1998, and it was a
pretty bad list. There were people on there whose names you would recognize in
this county who are very up-front about the fact that they have been convicted of
a felony and had their rights restored, and they were still on that list. We knew
that was not a good list, and three weeks before the election, you know, we were
printing up poll-registers already, so we did not do anything about that list before
the first primary in 1998. There was no time. We did, though, between that and
the general election, we went through [the list]. And this is how we have handled
that list mostly every since, is we go through and we sort out first. Is this an exact
match to someone on our rolls? Like if it is a different race or sex or if it is a
common name and an entirely different address or the birth date or whatever, we
go through and make sure we have exact matches. If we know the people,
sometimes we will call them. Then, we send out a letter to each of those people
who are on that list. I was on the Central Voter File Committee, and David Leahy
made up the letter. We refined it some, but the gist of our letter is, we have just
received this information; it may or may not be true; if it is not, you surely want to
look into this because it is going to pop up on you some other time; we can help
you do that; here is how you do it, and FDLE has set up an 800-number fax and
an 800 phone number. And, they were turning those things around pretty fast. So
that is how we have done it.
P: If they do not reply to you, then you do take them off the rolls?
H: We take them off, right, and they are put in an inactive status. I do not think we
had any in November, to tell you the truth, who came in and tried to vote and
screamed and hollered and said, I am not supposed to be off the rolls. We put
them in a status so that our phone-bank knows that the clerk needs to talk
directly to one of us in the office about that person. Then we get that person and
say, now, we sent you a letter and it says... Then, if it is early enough in the day,
we have had them say, oh, I know, but I just did not do anything about that letter,
but I was not convicted. Now, some of them will say, I was never convicted of a
felony in Alachua County. Well...
P: Alachua County [they could still be a Florida felon].
H: Yes. So you get some funny little things like that. But in some cases, their
adjudication was withheld or it was a misdemeanor, and they have had time to go
to the courthouse, and the courthouse will call us or they will bring back the
information, that was a misdemeanor. We let them vote. We reinstate them. We
have had that happen on Election Day. I do not recall that even happened on
Election Day in November. But they are in a status on our record so we know
what the problem is.
P: Then how do you feel about a provisional ballot, not just for that, for people who
thought they were registered and are not?
H: Yes. The provisional is fine. There is a little question in my mind I was going
over that in the new law last night where it seems that the provisional is just
about someone who votes absentee, you know, who requests a ballot, and if
they do not bring their ballot into the polls, then they have to vote a provisional
ballot, which just saves us a phone call. The clerk will not have to call about that
person, even if the lines are plain empty, because usually they can call and say,
did they vote absentee? No. So then, you let them go ahead and vote at the polls
if they sign an affidavit that they will not try to vote absentee. Plus, then we know
that they have already voted so we can catch any ballot that comes in. But, yes,
the provisional will work. It is going to take a couple days, I think. It depends on
how many provisional ballots we get, but we are going to have to have some kind
of board in here afterwards.
P: You have to check them all, right?
H: Yes. And I also do not know, it is not clear in there, like if they go into the wrong
polling place and they are in the wrong legislative district and they vote that
ballot, what do you count?
P: Good question.
H: And I will tell you, the first draft of that bill dealt with that. This one does not. So,
there are some little glitches.
P: That is not very smart, is it?
H: No. See, we do not know what to do now. They are going to have to do rule-
making on that, because, like, if they go to the wrong polling place...
P: Which happens frequently.
H: Oh, yes.
P: What about the issue of felons voting? Should they be allowed to vote?
H: Well, that is a philosophical question, a political question. Florida law says they
are not allowed to vote. Maybe they should be allowed to vote. I really felt,
especially when we first started getting those lists, we had men especially who
had been convicted in the 1960s and 1970s of drug offenses. They had been
voting for the last twenty years. You know, some of our best voters. Most of them
were older and just did not want to go through the business of getting their rights
restored, so they cannot vote anymore. The legislature should have amnestied
all those people, just said, if you were convicted of a drug offense before 1985 or
1980, pick a date, just give them all amnesty; put them back on the voting rolls.
That could have cleared up [the problem]. I think right now there are some things,
like an edict from the governor or whatever you call it, some kind of order from
the governor, could speed things up [Ms. Hill noted that Governor Bush later did
this after this interview was recorded]. Like the Department of Corrections is
supposed to send clemency, a list of people who are serving out their time and
getting out. Evidently, the Department of Corrections gives each of those people
a form to fill out and a checklist. If they do not get the checklist back, that does
not go to clemency.
P: So you do not get that information.
H: You do not get the information. Clemency does not get the information, because
they are evidently allowed to just automatically restore people. Clemency says it
takes a year to get there anyway, but the governor could say to his head of the
Department of Corrections, you are going to speed this up; these people do not
read, that is why they do not fill in that; we are going to provide you money to hire
people to help these people fill this out; we are going to get that form over to
Clemency, and Clemency, you are going to work on this. These are [logical
measures] to me.
P: Yes. But in a close election, these issues become magnified.
H: Oh, sure.
P: In this election, there were, as I understand it, sixty people who voted who were
not eligible to vote. Is that right?
H: In our county?
H: I do not think it was that much. I think it was something like thirty-five.
P: How does that happen?
H: In one case, a woman who was clearly not on the rolls because she was a felon
was reinstated and allowed to vote, and I am not sure where that occurred,
whether that occurred from the office or whether that occurred at the polling-
place. The clerk had definitely called the office, and I am not sure what she was
told. But there was one person who had been convicted. She was [convicted of
writing] a bad check in the 1970s. This is one of my amnesty cases. But she was
allowed to vote. The rest of them were people who really convinced the poll-
worker, the clerk, that they were just doing a change of address, and when the
clerk could not get through, they did a change of address. Now, that change of
address may have been from Volusia County. You know, they did not look and
say, what do you mean, a change of address from Jacksonville. They were just
overwhelmed and were just putting those people in. One was a really elderly man
who went to vote in one of our outlying precincts and had not voted since the
1980s. He definitely was on the inactive list and would not have been
reinstatable. But, you know, that was probably the last time he is ever going to
vote, and the clerk there allowed that vote. So it was stuff like that.
P: And a provisional ballot would have taken care of that.
H: Yes, absolutely.
P: Let me ask you about the decision that Judge Sanders Sauls made when Gore
was requesting a recount, and he said that it was not allowable because he had
to prove a reasonable probability that the outcome would be changed, rather
than a possibility. Did you agree with that court decision?
H: Oh, I do not know. I wanted to do a manual-recount. As it turns out, they should
have asked for the whole state, because where he would have evidently picked
up the votes is not in the three big counties but in the small counties.
P: So that was a strategic mistake by the Gore team. They should have asked for a
H: Well, in hindsight. Yes, I am sure they think it was, too. But I was not analyzing
these judicial opinions as they came down.
P: Should there be statewide voting-standards, and these kind of issues we have
talked about, being very precise, even to the point of giving advice on voter-
intent, i.e. one-corner hanging chad.
H: I suppose there should be, but I think you are going to get into differences in the
big urban counties from the small rural counties. I think as precise as you want to
be, and I am sure this will come through rule-making, you are always going to
P: Do you think that there should be, and in light of this new law, both uniform
equipment and uniform ballots, at least for state and national offices?
H: I do not know. I understood the problem that these little counties are having with
cost. You know, the ones that still have this little Data-Vote, they did not have
any problems that I know of, and yet they have to scrap their system and get
another one. And we are not going to have uniform [equipment]. I read in the
paper this morning that Palm Beach is going to pick up some sort of touch-
screen system that is not even certified in the state yet and use it from now on,
and it is $16,000,000. At least, that is what one of those little sidebar columns
this morning [mentioned]. So we are not going to have uniform systems. We are
going to have some with paper and some without.
P: But we are not going to have any more Vot-o-matic.
H: Right. That seemed to be the problem, so we are not going to have any more of
P: What is your view of touch-screen technology?
H: Well, I think that is not going to solve the problem. If you think literacy was a
problem on a printed ballot, literacy is going to be a problem on a touch-screen. I
have to say this, though: the only touch-screen system I have looked at has been
about three years ago. It was on a podium, and it was flat. I was not tall enough
with my trifocals to get myself up to where I could focus down and clearly see the
screen. That was a problem, and I am not the only one who is going to have that
P: Plus, a lot of people have never used computers.
H: That is right. They are going to be very frightened, and there was a lot of
language on that screen. You do not get the whole ballot on one screen; you
have to turn pages it is press here to turn the page. What if your hand is
trembling and you press, like, you know? I mean, I am sure that the computer
people have figured all this out, but I do not think it is any panacea and I do not
think it is going to be the magic that is going to make it all better.
P: Who is going to pay for the new machines in the state?
H: I guess the state is. Well, no, I do not think they are going to pay for the whole
thing. I doubt that the state is going to give them enough money to get that touch-
screen. I think they are going to get $3,750 per precinct.
P: How do you feel since this county has already paid for new equipment?
H: We are delighted to get any money back.
P: Will you get money, even though you have already...
H: We will get about $200,000, but I will tell you how it works. You know, we are one
of the bigger counties, believe it or not, because they use $75,000 as the...
P: You are going to need more new machines anyway.
H: I am going to need additional machines. All my machines are still working, so I
am going to need additional, but I do not think I am going to get the good deal on
the price that I got the first time around. I mean, if you split my [$395,000], I got
sixty-eight machines with the ballot-box and the memory-card and the bags, and
that included the computer and the program and the printer and everything that
you need for $395,000. If you divide it by sixty-eight, that is $5,800. Well, now, it
is going to be $7,000 per Accu-Vote, so it is going up.
P: How many additional machines will you need?
H: Twenty-five or twenty-six, because that is how many new precincts I am going to
P: Due to redistricting?
H: Well, due to increase in population more than that. We are getting slighted,
actually, unfortunately, in the amount of money we are getting back from the
state, because they are going per precinct and I have run several of my big
precincts rather than splitting them geographically. I have run them as two
precincts, A-L, M-Z. I do not know where you vote, but if you vote on Tower Road
say, Precinct 42 votes in the library and the Baptist church they are split, and
that was a convenient way to do it without having to go to all the really
cumbersome manual-inputting of data that we would have to do to split a
precinct. I do the same thing, and it works pretty well, at Precinct 44, which is a
student precinct. They vote at the Harn [Museum] and the Performing Arts
Center. I have been real lucky that the Harn and the Performing Arts Center have
let us use those two places. They have 6,000 people registered in that precinct.
That is one precinct, but I use two Accu-Votes there. I use two Accu-Votes at
Precinct 21, which is First Assembly of God. Sometimes I use two Accu-Votes at
Precinct 38. It allowed me on small elections to realize that I would not have a big
enough turnout to need two Accu-Votes. But, see, those are four extra Accu-
Votes that I am not going to get paid for, because I have four less precincts on
the board than it looks, so we are losing that amount of money. But we are
getting $200,000. It will pay for the new system I need, the new pieces I need,
plus I need more voting booths and it will cover that. I am sure the county would
like it if more [money were available], you know, get some excess [funds].
P: But at least they got some.
P: What was your reaction to the new bill passed by the legislature, "reforming"
voting in Florida?
H: It is fine. I am glad they did some of the stuff they did. I am just still analyzing it. I
was going through it last night, and some of it, it was like, hmm, what does that
mean? One of the little things we noticed is, it has always said that after the poll
closes, then the clerk shuts down the machines, declares the poll closed you fix
it so you cannot vote anymore. Then, the clerks are supposed to open the ballot
boxes and count the ballots, not tabulate the vote but count the number of ballots
that is in the box. Buddy Irby never wanted that to happen. He had them seal the
ballot box and send it in here, never opened. He said he could just see, you
know, some classroom, the teacher comes in and says, I found this stack of
ballots. Back then it really would have made a difference, because they were not
counted until they got here. So he just never did it that way and we continued to
do that way, and then they changed the law and said, if you do not want to open
them, you just seal them and bring it in. So that was fine. They have taken that if
you do not want to open it out, and they have left in that you have to count the
ballots. So now we are wondering if they really mean that, you know, if we are
going to have to open there is nothing pretty about opening the ballots.
P: Do you mean at the polling-place?
H: Yes, because they do have to open the box, and they put it right into cart
containers that are sealed before they come in. It is not pretty.
P: Surely they do not mean that.
H: I do not know. You think that count at 8:00 at night, with these people who have
been there fourteen hours, is ever going to be accurate? You know, one, two, oh
hey, it says we are supposed to give out this many.
P: That is another issue about the time would it be helpful to add more hours to
the voting day?
H: For voters, it probably would. It would be a terrible thing to administer. Getting
people now to work that long day is really hard, and splitting the day in two shifts,
what if your second shift does not show up? What do you do?
P: One of your problems, obviously, is getting enough poll-workers and getting
qualified poll-workers. How do you go about doing that?
H: We have a little message that goes on... everything we sent out of here, we try to
message on. Want to work at the polls? Call 374-5252. That message goes on,
like, for new voters it goes on their voter ID card. It is on a little tear-off, but it is in
there. We get a pretty good trickle from that of people who call in and say, yeah,
they would like to work the polls. Then we put them in church-bulletins and just
anything that you can. It is kind of hard because, like, students would like to do it,
and we have had students, oh yeah, I do not have any classes that day, I am
going to do it, I can do it. And then the night before they say, my professor pulled
a quiz tomorrow, and I cannot work. I thought you did not have classes. Well, I
really do, but I was going to cut. So that is the problem. I mean, we have got this
whole bunch of students over there who would be great, because the ones we
have had are good, and we have got some who do work time-after-time. But it is
P: So you have kind of a hard-core group, a group that you can keep calling on.
P: And what do you pay them?
H: We pay $6.50 an hour for our clerks and $6.25 or $6.00 for assistant clerks, and
we pay $5.50 an hour for the inspectors. So, $5.50 to $6.50 is our range, and
they get paid by the hour from 6:00 in the morning until whenever they leave, and
then they get paid for coming to poll-worker training.
P: How long does that last?
H: Our clerks come to a two-hour clerk and assistant clerk school, then [have two
more hours] before each election.
P: Explain exactly what the clerks and assistant clerks do.
H: The clerk runs the polling-place. The clerk is the person that, if there is any
problem, the voter goes to them and they do the paperwork. Their assistant is
trained the same as they are, so that they know everything that has to be done
and so they can step in if their clerk gets hit by a truck or something like that.
They are ready to go right on in and be clerk, and it sort of gives you a little pool
of people to keep coming up. So they have to go to clerk/assistant clerk school,
and that is really, okay, this election is like this and these are the changes and
here is the ballot and this is how it is going to be packed and this is what you are
going to expect. They get trained very intensely. Then they come back for
another two-hour school where we train the inspectors. Pam is my poll-worker
trainer, and she does all these things [chants] "send them to the clerk." They get
a real chant going. So what if their address is...they are instructed clearly, you
never tell someone they cannot vote, that is not your job; your job is to find out if
there is a problem; the clerk's job is to solve it. So you do not ever have to be
faced with making a decision the inspectors do not. Send them to clerk. They
get into the real chant, and that is what they do.
P: So, they stand at the door, and when people come in, if they have a question or
H: No, they are at a table, almost like a desk.
P: They are the ones who sit at the table.
H: When you go in, the deputy will be at the door, and he kind of [directs], A-L, what
is your name, this kind of stuff. He also takes care of the solicitation area outside
or she, we have got some women deputies. Once they are in, they go the
tables where the inspectors sit. They are the people who work the books. Then
the clerk is usually off to the side, has the telephone, has all the forms, all that
stuff, and takes care of the problems. They are instructed to ask, they must, even
if your mother comes to vote, you have to see her picture ID and her signature
ID, and you have to ask them, is this still your legal address? And if it is not, then
you have to send them to the clerk, and the clerk will give us a call and find out
where that address votes. Then they have forms to fill out, to change that
address and stuff like that. Our clerks and assistant clerks already get the total of
six hours of training a year that this requires; however, it comes before the first
primary and the general election, so what they are saying in this [new law] is that
you cannot work the first primary without six hours of training. So we are going to
have to add two hours of training somewhere, in terms of for the clerks and in
terms of time and money. That is a legislative-mandate that, I guess, maybe we
are supposed to fund out of that money that they gave us for this year anyway.
But six hours of training for the clerks is going to add a lot to our time.
P: While we are on the bill, they apparently have eliminated the run-off...
H: The second primary.
P: ...which obviously is a major help to you.
P: But how do you feel about that in terms of just the electoral process?
H: Well, it is interesting. It is going to change the method of campaigning for a lot of
people because I think a lot of people go into it, well, I will make the run-off; all I
have to do is get enough votes to get into the run-off that is kind of a tactic.
Then when you get the second primary, then you are more intense about it. You
have fewer voters to deal with, so it is a real targeted campaign. Some people
never even hear; it is a very quiet campaign, the run-off. This will make the
primary a lot more intense.
P: Under that system, we would have never had Bob Graham or Reubin Askew as
H: That is what they say.
P: And this system will probably favor Pinellas [County], South Florida, Orange
H: In state-wide elections.
P: Yes, state-wide elections. If you can get enough from the large population base,
you do not have to campaign in Pensacola.
P: Which is not good for, in my view, the overview of campaigning all over the state.
H: Yes. But, you know, if there was a turnout for the second primary, I think that
would be a better argument, but the turnout for the second primary is always so
P: What was the turnout for the recent mayoral election?
H: I think it was something over 20 percent. It seems to me the turnout was about
the same. Now, it does not affect municipal elections. It is only the October
election they have taken out, so those will still be the same.
P: How do you feel about the press' attack on some of your fellow supervisors, and,
of course, the most virulent attack was on Theresa LePore, who had death
threats and all that. How do you feel about that?
H: I hated it. The Gainesville Sun has been really nice. They have reported things,
but they have been not attacking at all. So, locally, I have not had any problem,
but the calls that I get from around the nation, around the state, I feel, are
just...they think I am a piece of dirt.
P: Why would they do that?
H: I have no idea.
P: In Theresa LePore's case, obviously, the issue is the butterfly-ballot. Do you
think that was a wise decision, in terms of what she was trying to do? She was
trying to make it easier for elderly people to read.
H: Yes. I guess it was not, although my ballot-printer is in Michigan and she says
they do those butterfly-ballots all over the place and they work fine. But if you
have not done it before...it is the same thing with putting those presidential
candidates in two columns. But I will tell you, the sample ballot we got from the
Division of Elections had those presidential candidates in two columns.
P: Well, Duval [County] did it.
H: Yes, and lost a lot of votes.
P: A lot of votes over there.
H: Bigger than Palm Beach [County], I think.
P: Yes. For some reason, you hear about Palm Beach and you do not hear as much
[about other counties with more dramatic problems].
H: Exactly. I can imagine the nightmare that they had in Palm Beach that started at
7:00 in the morning on Election Day. It must have been horrible, horrible.
P: They got no sleep for thirty-five days, literally.
H: Yes. When you start to hear of this happening at your polling-places, what are
you going to do? How can you possibly help? How can you get out there during
the day on Election Day and remedy any of this?
P: Theresa had to be escorted by police and SWAT teams and deputies to take
hold of it. According to Pam [lorio], she is still suffering the after-effects of those
H: I imagine. I do not think there is a one of us who is not, whether anything
happened to us or not. I just think it is constant, you know, you will go through a
day when you are, oh, I am getting work done and I am working on the next one,
analyzing this and designing and I am off to the next election, and I am working
on my budget, and things are going okay. Boy, it is nice, we work eight hours a
day and we go home, and we are doing our job. Then you will get a call from, this
is the Associated Press, I would just like to ask you a few questions, if you do not
mind. And then they start in on Election Day. It is like, I do not remember,
number one, and some of them are nicer than others, let me say.
P: This is one reason that Pam wanted to do this, to get on the record what really
happened with election supervisors, because often the press has distorted things
so much. In particular, she did an interview with the lady from Volusia County,
and they had just taken information that was not correct and accused her of
violating election law. She was just upset and frustrated, I think, more than
anything else. She could not seem to get the correct information out.
H: Yes. I have not had that here. The paper has been very kind to me, but the other
reporters who call, it is like slamming at you, well, do you mean to tell me you...?
Why did you...? This kind of stuff. The other things I am hearing is that these
hearings that are going on around the state for various groups, when are they
going to tell them what the law is, you know, the thing where the guy in front of
me only had to do one ID and I had to do two. Well, you need picture and
signature; if they are on the same card, you need one; if you have to show two
cards, you have to show two. This is the law. Nobody told me my polling place
changed. Well, I will warrant that that person had not changed their address at
the supervisor's office, and so when they sent out the notice that the polling place
was moved, of course they did not get it.
P: The issue for a lot of national reporters, and to some degree from the Gore
camp, people were, in fact, disenfranchised by either lack of resources, old
voting machines or inaccurate voting machines or difficult ballots. What is your
reaction to that?
H: I get very angry at it, except probably for the difficult ballot, which I understand.
That is an educational [issue, and] that is a separate thing. But the other things
that they are talking about, getting disenfranchised, you know, the voter has
some responsibility to find out if they are on the voter-rolls or not, if they have not
voted since 1992. We had people calling here very angry because their husband
was not allowed to vote. I remember one woman who, when I told her that he
was dropped in 1989 and he had not voted since 1985, said, well, he voted for
Bill Clinton. I said, no, ma'am, he did not vote for anybody; he might have been
gonna, but he was not on the rolls then. She said, oh. She kind of really stepped
back. But I think that kind of thing happened a lot.
P: Pam particularly is interested in this: to what extent is it the supervisor's
responsibility to have a voting system and/or ballot that makes voting as simple
as possible and diminishes the likelihood of error, and to what extent is it the
responsibility of the voter to understand the instructions and to vote correctly?
H: Well, I think there are two things there. Of course, it is our responsibility to have a
clear ballot, to have a system that will work and to have a system with as many
safeguards to prevent error as possible. Then, it is the voter's responsibility to
know that they need to tell us if they change their address. They need to be able
to read enough so that they can follow the instructions, or take someone with
them they are allowed to bring someone in with them to read, whomever they
want, except their union leader and their boss. But they can take someone to the
polls, and there are a lot of people in our county who do take people to the polls,
or they vote absentee and they get people to help them. I do think it is our
responsibility to have a ballot that is easy to decipher. Our ballots turned out to
be very user-friendly, but we were worried. Made big decisions about which side
of the candidate to put the oval on, whether to use red ovals because they show
up better [but are] more expensive to print. I did a survey of all the supervisors
who already were using Accu-Vote, where they put the oval. More of them were
putting it on the left, and the ones who put it on the right said if they had started
at the beginning on the left, that is where they would want it to be. Then you do
not have to trace across to a little oval; it is right next to the candidate.
P: Plus, that is what voters are generally used to, right?
H: On the left? No, it is usually on the right. The punch was over here, and our oval
P: Did you have red ovals?
H: No, and we have not had much complaint about people who cannot see the oval,
so it worked out okay. According to our over-votes and under-votes, we evidently
did not have people who could not see them.
P: Were you aware of any racial discrimination at all in the voting? There were
some charges that there were some attempts to prevent people who were voting
in, say, Dade and Volusia and Duval.
H: I doubt that. Knowing those supervisors, I would not think that they would for a
minute tolerate anything like that. I know that the campaigns were targeting
minority populations to get them out to vote, and they did.
P: In record numbers.
H: Yes. And some of the folks had not voted for awhile, so they might have been on
inactive or they would have moved and go to the wrong polling place. That is, I
think, what caused us to have so many people at the counter, coming down here
to vote because no matter where they live, they could vote here. I think part of
the Get Out the Vote was bringing them in here to vote, so that kind of eased that
situation for us. But, no. I know they are using the whole felony-thing as a racial
thing. And it is true; I mean, the statistics show, but whether that was a
conspiracy to do that, especially with a central-voter file, I think it was dumb, but
people are trying to show that it was a conspiracy. There is a young woman who
wrote a thesis at the university here about the felony vote, that it was between
the legislature and the Division of Elections and the Clemency Board and all that.
It was like a conspiracy theory to get minorities off the rolls, and it was the
Republicans who were doing that. I do not think anybody is smart enough to put
that kind of conspiracy together, to tell you the truth. But, you know, that is what
they are charging.
P: A lot of the issue, then, is that the voter is either illiterate or does not take the
necessary time to determine when and where they have to vote. Judge Burton
told me that in Palm Beach County, 96 percent of the people voted correctly with
H: Is that right? 96 percent?
P: That is a pretty high percentage.
H: Yes, it sure is.
P: So, it tends to indicate to me that the 4 percent who had trouble, it was not the
ballot or the machine; it was the voter.
H: That is probably true. I mean, I think we have a responsibility to do as much as
we can, and when I am going out speaking now, I am telling people if you are
going to engage in a Get Out the Vote campaign, you can get the ballot ahead of
time. Be sure you know what it looks. Be sure the people you are trying to get out
know what it looks like. The sample ballot we send looks pretty much like what
our ballot really looks like, and we say on that ballot, you can take this to the polls
with you. We have Xeroxed copies of our ballots available. As soon as we get
them, we will start Xeroxing, and we will give them to anybody, so Get Out the
Vote campaigns can take the ballot and say, this is what it is going to look like;
here is how you vote it. Do that kind of thing if you are going to do Get Out the
Vote campaigns. We give them to the libraries and put them around.
H: Well, schools, no, because they are not eighteen. Kim, my outreach coordinator,
goes to schools and registers people to vote. There are some doctors' offices
that take them. Like Dr. Cosby used to call me every election and say, got any
sample ballots yet? We would run them over, and he would keep them in his
office and stuff like that. So they are available, and I would say Get Out the Vote
campaigns can use those materials how to vote.
P: What about voting by mail?
H: Well, we have done some of that. I mean, absentee is voting by mail.
P: Oregon does the whole...
H: Yes. Florida allows it. We have a mail-ballot election coming up June 19 here. It
is only eighty-five voters; it is an annexation referendum of Russellwood. The city
uses it. The biggest we have ever done was 14,000 voters, and it was an
annexation. Seems to me most of it failed. It was an annexation in the southwest.
The same students who really complain when they find out they are not in the
city and cannot vote in the city elections voted against being annexed into the
city, not the same students, but, you know, that area failed. There was an
annexation. There was a piece in the east, a piece in the southwest and a piece
in the northwest. So we have done mail elections. [End of Side 2, Tape A.]
P: Did you have any litigation at all, any lawsuits, any issues that would require you
to go to court?
H: Not directly as a result of the election, but I am a named defendant in the
Johnson v. Bush, the big felony case that is now a class-action [suit].
P: Explain what that is.
H: Okay. Thomas Johnson is here in Alachua County. He is a man who runs a
halfway house for felons. He, himself, evidently, although we have never talked
to him, was convicted of a felony in New York. There is a group of them that sued
the governor, Bob Butterworth, Katherine Harris, and it seems to me there is
somebody else at the state level, and then named counties. I think it is like Palm
Beach, Dade, Broward, Hillsborough, Pinellas and Alachua counties, so we are
really in there with the big guys. It has come about that way because Thomas
Johnson lives in Alachua County. I expect he chose Alachua County, maybe,
because he was close to the prisons, and he was going to run a halfway house
for prisoners, or for felons who were out. That is what he does. The charge is that
not allowing felons to vote in the state of Florida [is illegal]. The Brennan Center
of Law is the chief plaintiff's counsel. They were here yesterday, in fact, looking
at our records, our felony lists and our incomplete voter-registration applications,
which he decided not to bother with, and looking through all the lists. We get a
letter from the clerk every month saying these people have been convicted of a
felony in Alachua County; if they are voters, take them off. Or the incompetency-
hearings and things like that. He looked through all that. He especially looked
through my central-voter file about the letters we sent to the people on the felony
list. So I am a named defendant there, but now every supervisor is in the class,
so it is a class-action now.
P: Talk about the Florida Supreme Court and their decision to order the under-vote
manual-count. What was your reaction to that?
H: We were excited. We started right away sorting our ballots, and we got all of our
ballots sorted, as a matter of fact. We got a bunch of poll-workers in and set up
down at our training room in the warehouse. We divided them into votes for
Gore, votes for Bush, votes for all the other candidates. Then what we called
problems, marginal marks is what they are, and also no votes at all. So, we got
our over-votes and under-votes all sorted out in that day, that Saturday. We had
more over-votes and under-votes than showed up on our reports, so we later had
to sort them again. We did a little program we ran them through to see if the
machine picks it up. But those things are inaccurate. The ones that counted
counted on Election Day or did not count on Election Day. It might be different
which ones counted and did not count the day in February when you are running
through that report.
P: So how accurate is a manual-recount?
H: I don't know. That is an interesting question. It depends on if you are looking at
every single ballot, what you are going to have to do with this system is take
every marginal mark. You are going to have to assume that the read-head picks
up every ballot, every vote that is filled in correctly. If you see a race that has the
oval filled in correctly and there is only vote for one, then you are going to have to
assume, I would guess, that was counted correctly the first time. So, you are only
going to count over-votes and under-votes. Otherwise, if you count the whole
thing, you know, you just go one, two, three, four...
P: How can you count over-votes?
H: Well, you cannot, unless you can determine, like if it is a Gore in the write-in
bubble, that will come through as an over-vote. If you want to count that towards
Gore, that is what you can do.
P: Was the court correct, then, in just requesting the count of the under-votes?
H: Probably not. I do not know that they would know... I do not know if you saw the
report, I forget who was it the Orlando Sentinel? who did the fifteen counties
in North Florida, small counties where the county went for Bush and they had
those central-count scan-systems, and there were all those over-votes where
they had marked [write-in] and voted for the same person. So, by intent, you
could tell who they voted for. There were pretty big pick-ups in those counties, so
that over-vote, you probably needed to look at both of them.
P: What was your reaction to the Supreme Court decision stopping the recount?
H: Disappointment. I do not know, like I have told people, I did not get good marks
in constitutional law. I do not really know, based on the equal protection
argument, whether there was a problem or not.
P: It is interesting because this court has [seldom] made decisions based on the
Fourteenth Amendment before. In fact, it would have been a court that would
have shied away from that. Did you see that decision as partisan?
H: Probably, but, like I said, I just watched what happened. I really did not go around
analyzing. I know that the [Florida] Supreme Court and the legislature do not get
along. There are probably going to be a lot of repercussions.
P: How far had you gotten in your manual-recount?
H: We just sorted. That is as far that we got.
P: Do you see that this was an issue that should have been left to the state, that, in
fact, the United States Supreme Court should never have accepted the case at
H: I do not know.
P: In the long run, there are... It is interesting, Judge [Charles] Burton [canvassing
board member in Palm Beach County], who is a Democrat, thought that while he
disagreed constitutionally with the Supreme Court decision, that they did the right
thing, because after thirty-six days, then it would have gone to the legislature,
then it would have gone to Congress, and there really could have been a
constitutional crises. He thought that the election process needed to be ended.
P: What would your response to that be?
H: Expect it did [end a potential crisis]. I do not know. Like I said, I am not good at
analyzing what the court does, and so I did not try. I really did not. You know, I
am not trying to avoid an answer; I just did not.
P: If we have to have some sort of standard for the intent of the voter, could not the
[Florida] Supervisors of Elections or the [Florida] Secretary of State come with a
standard, or should it be the [Florida] legislature?
H: I think the standards are going to be set in the rules. We are having a rule-
making conference and a rule-making hearing at our conference. Let me see if I
have got what the rules are going to be, what we are going to be looking at.
There is a whole list of rules, and I think intent is on there. Yes, clear indication of
voter's choice on a ballot is the first rule we are going to deal with. This is in rule-
making, and who makes the rules is the Division of Elections. State write-in
ballot, eligibility for late registration by overseas citizens, electronic transmission
of absentee ballots, recount procedures. There is a whole list of rules that we are
going to be looking at.
P: So, the board of supervisors association will submit rules to the...
H: I do not know. I am not in on the inside of this. I have no idea what anybody is
doing; I just know that we got this notice of hearing.
P: But the legislature, in effect, has given that responsibility to the supervisors.
H: No, to the Division of Elections, and they issued this notice. The Following Rule
Development Notice was filed with the Florida Administrative Weekly for
publication on May 18. It announces the rule-development workshop which we
are planning to conduct at Saddlebrook.
P: A related question I had not thought about: should ballots be private and
excluded from the state's open-record laws?
H: I do not know why.
P: Sometimes people have argued that....
H: If you could tell who voted, I guess it would be, but you cannot.
P: What is your reaction to the cost of the recount? I noticed that Katherine Harris'
legal fees were almost $1,000,000. The cost to recount was maybe $3,000,000.
Should the taxpayers have to pay that?
H: Sure. Part of the cost of doing business, I guess.
P: Let me ask you this, who technically is in charge of the elections? Is it Clay
Roberts, or is it Katherine Harris?
H: Well, I do not think either one of them is in charge. It is us. It is at the local level.
When you look in the statute, their job is to coordinate and try to make things
consistent and things like that, except that election canvassing board or
canvassing commission or something at the state level, which, I think, just makes
a determination; they sign the final certificate at the end. But we are the ones
who have to interpret the law at the local level, with precious little guidance.
P: But then the appeal would go to them, and then to the courts.
H: No, I do not think so. There is no appeal to the Division...
P: Well, I noticed that when [Palm Beach County] needed an extension, they
appealed to Clay Roberts, and the response was a denial of that appeal.
H: Well, okay, for things like that, I guess, for when you turn in your [certification],
because the certification has to go to the Division [of Elections].
P: Certification process, yes. If a voter in your system somehow fouls up a ballot, is
there a limit on the number of times they can vote?
P: Is that fair?
H: Probably. We saw that happening before the election at the counter. You know,
the people who were coming in were very carefully filling in the oval for every
candidate. Their ballot would pop back out, and we would explain to them that
you just vote for one. Sometimes they would go back and they would only vote
for two. At that point, what we would do is say, do you need assistance, and have
them fill out a needs-assistance form, and then two of us would sit down with
them. Who do you want to vote for?
P: And you have to be very careful, is that right?
H: Yes, you do, but there is allowance for that in the law. Number one, you can
come to the polls with whomever you want, like I said, except your union boss
and your boss you can tell where that came from. Or, if you just need
assistance, the clerk can assign two poll-workers, hopefully of different parties,
and they do just what you need they will read if you need that, they will mark if
that is what you need, they will help you hold the pencil if that is what you need,
or they will prop you up. Whatever you need when you are at the voting booth,
that is what they will do, and that is what we did here, you know, when they got to
that third ballot. But there was only one or two people who did that. But we made
them fill out that form if they needed assistance.
P: Which covers you.
P: Knowing what you know now, is there anything you would have done differently
prior to this election?
H: Yes. I guess we would have had more people. We would have taken that whole
counter-voting somewhere else. We just had to get that out of here. Maybe more
people to answer the phones in the office. I think the phone-bank, probably need
more people for that, too. I do not know where we are going to put them. It all
takes computers, it all takes headsets, it all takes that kind of stuff. There is no
room in this building [and] I just do not know where we will put them, but that is
what we need to do. Trying to think if there were some other things that I would
have done. Counting absentees in here, running them through on Election Day,
is horrible, horribly messy. We get too many people. We are going to have to
move the canvassing board, I do not know, to our warehouse? I just do not know
how we are going to handle this. I really do not. We are just painfully, almost
dangerously, lacking space in this office to run big elections. I covet that
shopping center up on 13th and 23rd, you know, the old J.M. Fields. That would
be excellent. Maybe you have seen Barbara Kirkland's operation in Clay County?
P: No, I have not, but...
H: They bought a shopping center.
P: ...I understand that.
H: My warehouse is a mile from here. It is in a separate location. Here is the office.
If we had everything right in the same place, there would be parking out front,
there would be...you know, I go into offices and there is, like, ten feet between
the door and the counter. It is like, oh, look at that space. They have room for a
couple of chairs for people to wait. Space is horrible.
P: Will the new courthouse help at all?
H: No. That has already been spoken for, and I ain't gonna to get any. We are on
the end of the list.
P: After this election, do you view your job differently than you did before?
H: No, not really.
P: Do you think the public views your job differently?
H: They are more interested in it. That is what I have found. Last Wednesday, I went
to Literacy Network. Everybody is really excited. Everybody has got an opinion
about elections. Everybody has gotten just really interested in it. So, if nothing
else, it has really spurred interest.
P: Certainly they understand what you do a lot better.
H: Yes. There are lot of things still they do not know. You know, one of the big
focuses of the Literacy Network, and it was a small meeting, was, you pay poll-
workers? Well, if you would tell people that, I am sure you would not have a
problem. Well, that is not true.
P: But that is not a bad pay-scale?
H: Right. No, it is not for a day. But there is just all kinds of interest and people who
say, I have been voting thirty years and I did not know that. Well, actually they
did in their subconscious.
P: They had forgotten.
P: What personal toll has this whole presidential-election experience had on you?
H: I have become a recluse I do not want to go anywhere, I am not social. You
know, I do not want to show up anywhere. I know that is what it has done for me.
H: I do not know. It is very depressing. I do not know, because it did not happen that
much to me, but it is just like, what more could I have done? It sounds silly, but
this whole thing with the FBI oh my God, what do I have hidden somewhere
that I do not even know about. That whole thing took me...what is wrong with
me? Why am I so upset with that?
P: Explain the circumstance.
H: Well, with the FBI losing the records [on the Timothy McVeigh/Oklahoma City
bombing case]. I feel horrible for them.
P: Oh, I see. Okay.
H: I mean, it is like, whoa, what do we have? What have I forgotten?
P: Do you think if you look back at your experience as well as the statewide
experience, do you think the media was fair? You indicated you thought the
Gainesville Sun was fair.
H: Yes, they were fair to me.
P: But statewide and nationwide, do you think they were fair?
H: I just think that they felt the supervisors, like I said, were dirt. You know, the
whole banana-republic theory.
P: All the Florida jokes.
H: Right. Right, and I understand those. See, I have friends in England, and they
kept sending me the jokes. When I was over there, which I was just a couple
weeks ago, I brought back the headlines. I cannot find them anymore, but I did
fax them to Pam and I faxed them to Kurt Browning. They had changed things so
that you called a central place for absentees, and some reporter called and got
thirteen absentee ballots sent to him. The paper was just full of problems with
their elections these were local elections just full. So it ain't just us.
P: Well, as a matter of fact, I talked to Senator [Bob] Graham about this, and he
said that senators from Louisiana and Illinois and all of them said, thank God
they did not come to our state, because not only would it have been worse, but
there would have been increased cases of fraud, whereas in this state I do not
believe there was a lot of fraud.
H: I do not think there was any fraud, no.
P: So, clearly, if the spotlight had been on any other state, it would have shown the
same sort of problems.
H: Under the microscope, yes, any other state would have had this. You know, you
hear things that happen around in other states. It just happened that that is
where the vote came to it, here.
P: One issue that does not directly affect you, but was there an impact when the
televisions called the election prior to the voting ending in the western part of the
H: I bet there was. I did not know that this was happening. A friend of mine came in
a little after 7:00 and said, you know, they have called the state for Gore. I said,
oh, wow, how about that. Then, of course, later they did not. So I really did not
know, and it did not even dawn on me, to tell you the truth, that it was not even
7:00 there yet. So I think that is definitely needs to be dealt with somehow or
other in this state.
P: What is your reaction to all of these recounts that the New York Times and the
Miami Herald, you know, over and over and over again?
H: I do not mind that they are doing it. I mind the attitude they have when they call
about it. I do not know that they are getting an accurate account. I know that
when they came... The Miami Herald came here twice, I think. They came the
first time in early January, and they looked at over-votes and under-votes. Miami
Herald came, I think, and the Gainesville Sun came. The Gainesville Sun did it
early. They looked at them themselves.
P: They looked at 525 altogether.
H: Right. She counted them. I did not really know how many there were. The
Gainesville Sun came on January 2. They looked at the whole sort. Yes, it was
about 500 ballots, because I did not even know what it was. We had not run it
through any kind of program yet. So she looked at all of those, and she took
pictures, and that is when the thing was in the paper about the pictures, how
some of the ballots were voted. Then the Miami Herald was coming on the 10th,
and I realized, having the Gainesville Sun come made me realize, I was going to
have to do something to sort those ballots again, because the only way to know
which of those ballots counted and which did not because, obviously, we had 327
that did not count and here were over 500 ballots sitting here. Which ones would
you count again? You know, you do not want to count twice. I was thinking, well,
they are just going to have to go back and count the whole thing by hand if they
want to know which of those ballots apply. Then I thought, oh, I do not want that
to happen, so I did the little program and sorted them out so that I knew which
ones on that day were being rejected. Those are the ones I set aside.
P: These are just over-votes and under-votes?
H: Over-votes and under-votes. Just the ones that were rejected. That is what
everybody looked at, but who knows if those are the ones they should have
looked at? So, they do not know.
P: In retrospect, who do you think won Florida?
H: I do not know. I would love to see a complete story, and I have yet to see it, and I
expect they are waiting for the book. Everybody is going for a Pulitzer. But what I
have seen, it seems to me, the Orlando Sentinel is doing, really, most of it. That
is really yielding some interesting results, but I do not know if they have gone all
over the state. The Miami Herald came again, and the last time... It was not
Miami Herald, but it was Knight-Ridder. It was USA TODAY and Miami Herald
and it was a reporter from the Tallahassee Democrat, because that is a Knight-
Ridder paper, who came down here with his laptop. I said, do you need anything
else? No, no, just show me your ballots. He did not even know how many he was
supposed to be looking at. You do not know until you look at the reports.
P: Plus, each of the ones counting have a different standard, do they not?
H: Yes. I do not know what they have.
P: Was that not a part of the issue? At least, the United State Supreme Court is
saying that the Florida Supreme Court, by changing the date and discounting the
under-votes, in fact, had changed the law; therefore, that was unconstitutional,
and when you have these individuals going back and counting, there is no
uniform standard for those counts.
H: That could be. See, I think our ballots are easier to know and to determine intent
on. Now, when Janine Sykes did it for the Gainesville Sun, I think she determined
that there were eleven more votes for Gore. There were, like, twenty-four
altogether I forget how that worked, but it was...
P: And Gore carried the county by about 55 percent, something like that.
H: Yes. He got 55 percent of the vote, and I think Bush got 37 percent. It was a big
amount of votes here.
P: And Nader got quite a few
H: Nader got [3,326 votes]. That is another thing I did when I was at the DEC the
other night telling them about redistricting, is what they wanted me to come and
talk about. But no one has looked at this election like we usually look at elections.
We want to know how many people voted, how many Democrats voted, how
many Republicans, how many Greens, how many women, how many men, how
many blacks, how many whites. Nobody has looked at that at all. And then how
P: They will eventually.
H: Well, I gave them it.
P: I think people are still interested in the results now, rather than trying to really
understand voting patterns, but that will change.
H: It is interesting in this county. I think that Bush picked up votes here from, well, I
do not know where they came from, because you cannot say exactly which
Democrat. I think there are, like, fifty-five. I forget how I did it, but I have got that
and you can have a copy of it if you want just to see. I forget if it is 10 percent or
10,000 votes that Bush picked up in this county. I do not know who they came
from, but 34,000 Republicans [are registered in Alachua County], and Bush got
34,000 votes. Then, X number of Democrats voted, and I forget what Bush got,
but there was either 10,000 or 10 percent of the vote in there somewhere where
you figure in the non-partisan people who were not party. Gore could have gotten
more votes here, should have gotten more votes here, I would think, out of that
area where Bush got those votes.
P: Independent voters, as it were?
H: Yes, I think so. I found that really interesting, and no one has looked at that.
P: It is. I think that is very...
H: Because I know they targeted. They targeted minority Democrats.
P: In fact, that is one of the things we would like to have for this artifact, and I think
that for the long-term will be very important.
H: Yes. Well, I did it just because I like the numbers and stuff like that, you know, to
see what really happened.
P: What do you think of the analysis of this charge that Theresa LePore cost Gore
H: What a burden to bear the rest of your life, to be the little lady who...and that is
part of it. That was part of my concern, was, what did I not see by doing the
recount the way we did? It was just really horrible. That was a horrible burden.
P: But is it a fair charge?
H: No, it probably is not, because if you look at what is going on in the recounts, I
think that maybe there was enough ballots there that should have, not should
have counted but the people's intent, whether they did vote or not, to make Gore
win, or maybe there was enough in Duval to do the same thing, or maybe there
was enough in any of these fifteen counties to do the same thing. So I cannot
see that as a fair charge. It is a horrible thing to say.
P: Are there any other interesting stories or circumstances that you could relate that
you have not discussed previously?
H: We had Jesse Jackson here the day before the election.
P: Oh, I did not know that.
H: Yes, which was very interesting. He came on Monday, and they marched from 6th
Street down to the Plaza. Now, I was disappointed he did not come into the
office, because when I was on the Gainesville City Commission, he was here,
and we all went to a meeting with him, sort of a rally, and I cannot remember
what for but it was over at the old shopping center down on Waldo Road. He was
over there, and he spoke.
P: That was the Alavic?
H: Yes, the Alavic, and that was fun. So, he was here in Alachua County the day
before the election. He had a rally over the Plaza. A lot of people came in here
and voted the day before the election. It was to spur on a Get Out the Vote
campaign for Gore.
P: Do you think that had an important impact in terms of the number of minority
H: Oh, I am sure it did. I am sure it did in terms of the number of people who turned
P: Later on, there is some criticism of Jackson and the Democrats and the
Republicans going down to West Palm and going down to Dade and holding
these rallies and putting pressure on the canvassing boards.
H: See, that was just before the elections, so it kind of part of the fun to have him
here and, you know, get the people out to vote.
P: But it would not have been fun if you had been where Theresa LePore was.
H: No. I know. The day after was just terrible.
P: Is there anything else that we have not covered that you would like to discuss?
H: I do not think so. We are just working real hard now trying to figure out this
education. I am suddenly looking at everything in terms of education. I have been
working with the League of Women Voters. The League and I put out a brochure
every year, here are your elected officials, and it has got some stuff on, like,
where you register and all that kind of stuff. The front of it says Vote, and there is
a big check in the O agh!
P: You will have to change that.
H: I know, I know. What we were first going to do, you know, after the November
election, well, now it is time to change the brochure. Of course, the first thing
was, well, you know, there is a city election coming up. Yeah, but that is not
going to change; you know Paula [Delaney] is going to win that election.
P: Well...[Paula lost the mayoral election to Tom Bussing].
H: But as it kind of dragged on and we did not get to the brochure, we said, let us
wait. We will wait for the city election now. Then, of course, it changed thank
goodness we waited and then we were right in the middle of a session, you
know, after the city election.
P: So, you cannot do anything until they finish...
H: You cannot do anything about that. So, last week and this, [we have] been
making the changes in the brochure, taking the second primary out, that sort of
stuff. Then when I went to the Literacy Network thing on Wednesday, they were
so excited about just all kinds of elections-issues and education that I took
another look at the brochure. We have a little booklet in this office that my
outreach coordinator puts out. It is called Your Voice, Your Vote or something,
and she gives it to high-school kids, and it is full of stuff like one vote counts and
this kind of stuff and a nice history of the different election laws, the Vot[ing]
Rights Act of 1965. She goes way back, and it is a nice historical thing. It dawned
on me coming in to work today this is how I have been doing on this that we
ought to put those two together and have one piece of literature. The other night,
two friends of mine who have been in the League of Women Voters stopped by
at 5:00 and said, why don't you come over to Emiliano's [restaurant]; we are
going to have a cup of soup together. I said, great, and I thought, ooh, they are
League members; I am going to take the brochure. So, I said, read this, and what
do you see that we are missing; here is what I see and how I would like to word
it. Then we started looking at the thing on the front that has the big checkmark -
we gotta get that out of there you cannot make checkmarks on our ballot. So,
we are trying to redesign it so there is like two little ovals. I called the president of
the League then, and she had a really good idea. She said, just put Vote and
then put two little ovals and one filled in and one not. Good sample. So, and then
coming in to work this as I was driving along, well, you know what, we really
ought to change that whole thing. I turned it over to Kim, my outreach
coordinator, and we are going to start over.
P: It seems to me I read that you held a voter-seminar after the election, and one
person showed up.
H: Yes. One person came. Well, we decided to give it a try, and Saturday morning is
not good for anybody. I do not like to go places on Saturday morning, and, you
know, maybe the library is not either, but some people need to hear about it, but
probably that is not the way with this money we are getting from the state for
voter education. I have already heard from the League of Women Voters if I
would like to be part of a coalition that puts together a tape. Well, I would love to
be because I felt that doing a tape, like a twenty-minute tape about the election
process, be sure it is accurate and hits everything that anybody is suing about
now, all the issues that became civil-rights abuses out of this November election.
Just talk about those, or just the process here is what to expect when you go to
the polls. Hand them out to every organization in the county that would look at
them and just let them do that kind of stuff. We are going to put that together.
P: In fact, one county has video-screens and shows a tape like that in the polling
H: Do they really?
P: Or at least that was proposed.
H: That would be nice. I do not think there is enough money to buy that, but we
would like to put them in the library because they register voters, and just to have
it there. Yes, it would be nice. Do people stop and watch them?
P: I do not know.
H: See, I think once you get people into the polling-place, we are okay. Like for this
March election, and April, we had two under-votes and they came out of this
office. I know exactly who did those under-votes; there were two young women in
here who would not vote for either candidate and filed their ballot blank.
P: And that is fair; they can leave it blank.
H: And they told me, so we know exactly where there two under-votes [came from],
and we had no over-votes. So as far as the voters who are turning out now and
our system, we can take care of that kind of thing without having a whole video at
the polling-place, but we want to do it at other places.
P: And part of the problem was the new legislation; they had all presidential
candidates on the ballot. You had ten this time, and so that made it more difficult
in designing the ballot.
H: Yes, it sure did.
P: Who designs your ballots?
H: I did. Now, I do not program yet, because when we bought our system in 1999,
the program is VTS, Voting System, and Global, which is the vendor, has
another program called GEMS that is going to be certified in Florida sometime or
other it has been a long time now. But the way I did my contract was that I
would not get trained to program VTS; they would do it for me until GEMS got
certified in Florida. So they have a person who programs. Now, part of the time,
my programmer was in Texas, and the last couple of elections, the programmer
was in Omaha, Nebraska, and my printer is in Michigan, so we lost a day in there
printing absentee-ballots. Now, it will not matter, you know, without the second
primary, so that is kind of good. But they did the programming for me, and what I
did very early on, I sent her a ballot layout. I said, this is what I want it to look like,
and, it is going to be a fourteen-inch ballot, I want all the issues on the back -
plus, I had two small cities that had their elections on our ballot in November I
want them on the back, and I want all the candidates on the front, and here is
how I want them laid-out. So I had the president down the side. I tried to be real
careful, like, I do not want anybody hanging out the bottom there. It is always the
tax-collector ending up hanging out the bottom. So I had to design that and push
it up and down. She worked with me real well on changing stuff around.
P: In terms of that ballot-design, it can be critical.
H: Yes. But I knew what I wanted it to look like. It turned out prettier than I thought. I
mean, it was very clear. There was a very lot of white space and very simple
looking, I thought. It was not crowded in any way. I was real pleased with the way
it turned out, with the printing on the back and all that kind of stuff.
P: That is great. On that note, we will end the interview, and I want to thank you
very much for your time.
[End of Interview.]