Title: Interview with Harry Sawyer
Full Citation
Permanent Link: http://ufdc.ufl.edu/UF00005693/00001
 Material Information
Title: Interview with Harry Sawyer
Physical Description: Book
Language: English
Publication Date: May 22, 2001
Funding: This text has been transcribed from an audio or video oral history. Digitization was funded by a gift from Caleb J. and Michele B. Grimes.
 Record Information
Bibliographic ID: UF00005693
Volume ID: VID00001
Source Institution: Samuel Proctor Oral History Program, Department of History, University of Florida
Holding Location: This interview is part of the 'Florida Election Project' collection of interviews held by the Samuel Proctor Oral History Program of the Department of History at the University of Florida
Rights Management: All rights reserved by the source institution and holding location.
Resource Identifier: FEP 3

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Full Text


This Oral History is copyrighted by the Interviewee
and the Samuel Proctor Oral History Program on
behalf of the Board of Trustees of the University of

Copyright, 2005, University of Florida.
All rights, reserved.

This oral history may be used for research,
instruction, and private study under the provisions
of Fair Use. Fair Use is a provision of United States
Copyright Law (United States Code, Title 17, section
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Fair use limts the amount of material that may be

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the University of Florida

Harry Sawyer

Harry Sawyer is the supervisor of elections for Monroe County, Florida. He begins by
talking about the issue of having nonpartisan supervisors of elections and the various voting
machines and systems that have been used in Monroe County (1-4). He then describes the
events of election day 2000 and the recount procedures, as well as incidents involving the felon
lists and voter turnout (2-6). Sawyer explains how Monroe County dealt with under-votes and
over-votes and how the opinions of Secretary of State Katherine Harris and the courts affected
the procedures followed by Monroe County (6-8). Sawyer describes procedures followed at the
polls regarding voters making mistakes and gives information regarding Monroe County's
absentee ballots (9-11). Sawyer gives his opinions regarding statewide voting standards and new
kinds of voting equipment (12-14).

Sawyer discusses the treatment of Theresa LePore, the protests in Miami-Dade County
and the positions taken by the Monroe County canvassing board (14-16). He talks about the
responsibilities of election supervisors and the responsibilities of voters to vote correctly, and
describes directions given to voters at the polls, voter education in Monroe County and poll
workers (16-19). Sawyer gives his opinion on the allegations of racial discrimination and the
Motor Voter bill (20-21). He talks about the newspapers' recounts and the personal toll of the
election (21-23). He discusses the absence of fraud in the election and the jokes about Florida,
as well as whether the experience changed the way he and others view the office of supervisor of
elections (23-25). He ends by talking about a national poll closing time and recounting an
experience with NBC national news (25-26).

Interviewee: Harry Sawyer
Interviewer: Julian Pleasants
Date: May 22, 2001

P: This is May 22, 2001. This is Julian Pleasants, and I am in Key West, Florida,
talking with Mr. Harry Sawyer, a supervisor of elections for Monroe County. Mr.
Sawyer, tell me how long you have been supervisor and what persuaded you to
run for the office.

S: I have been supervisor of elections since I was elected in 1988. Probably the
thing that persuaded me to run for this office is that I wanted this office to be
managed/administered as a nonpartisan office and [make sure] that all the
candidates were treated fairly or on the same level playing field and my feeling
[is] that the supervisor of elections at the time did not do this. That is why I ran for
this office.

P: What is your political affiliation?

S: Republican.

P: Should this position be nonpartisan?

S: Yes, it should.

P: Are you disappointed that it is not?

S: Very disappointed.

P: ...that the legislature did not pass that?

S: Our association, for us to have a priority bill, we need a two-thirds vote of the
membership. In 1988 when I was elected, the very first conference that I
attended, I made up that two-thirds that they needed to make that nonpartisan bill
a priority of our association. Since then, we have been trying to push it through
the legislature, and each and every single time, it just dies and never makes it
anywhere. I believe and always have believed the first time I campaigned, I
campaigned on that issue that this needs to be a nonpartisan office.

P: Should it be an elected office?

S: Yes, it should. Absolutely. As much as I believe this should be a nonpartisan
office, I believe that it should be elected. The reason is that the supervisor of
elections, being elected, answers to the people, not the politicians who appoint
them to the positions. In other places in the country, the supervisors of elections

Page 2

serve at the pleasure of some elected board, that this person is expected to
administer [to] his bosses as they are running, or his future bosses. The way we
are elected in Florida gives us a freedom that other people do not have.

P: Were you on the canvassing board this year?

S: Yes, I was.

P: Talk about the kind of machines you have in Monroe County.

S: Our system is called AccuVote. It is an optical-scan precinct-based system. We
program our AccuVotes to return over-voted ballots [or] blank ballots to the voter
at the precinct. At the end of the night when the polls close, our results are
transmitted by modem over the phone lines to the computer here in Key West.
We have thirty-three precincts that start here in Key West and end 113 miles up
the highway at Ocean Reef.

P: When did you decide to go to AcuVote?

S: In 1993.

P: I bet you are glad you did that.

S: Yes, I am. It was an interesting decision because we were on a system called
DataVote at the time, and I recognized right away from our very first election on
that there were problems with even DataVote punch cards and that older people
or people with vision or shaky hands or arthritis had a problem punching [the
ballots]. We are an interesting county in that we come under Section 5 of the
Voting Rights Act, Section 203, [which] is the section that applies to language
minority groups, so we have bilingual ballots. On the punch card system, in a
large election we would have as many as eight ballot cards front and back, and
the drop-off [in votes] as you would go from card to card would increase by the
number of cards that the voters had to vote. So, as you got to the fourth ballot
card, the fifth ballot card, there was a tremendous drop-off. That affected our
referendums and it affected constitutional initiatives, so I wanted to go to a new,
precinct-based system. Mark-sense [ballots] eliminated a lot of the problems with
people who could not punch for one reason or another, and filling in an oval
seemed to be the simplest thing for them to do. [In] all of our elections, we try to
keep it to one ballot so that the drop-off is not as prevalent in this system as it
was in the other.

P: What percentage of Hispanic voters do you have?


Page 3

S: I am not sure, right now, the percentage of Hispanic voters, but according to the
latest census and the Voting Rights Act bases our bilingual status on
population rather than the number of registered voters 18 percent of our
population here in Monroe County is Hispanic. The threshold that the Voting
Rights Act establishes sets it at 5 percent, so if we are over 5 percent, we, by
law, have to provide a bilingual ballot or a Spanish [language] ballot to these

P: How many registered voters are there in the county?

S: We have a little over 50,000 right now.

P: Talk about election day, for the presidential election. What was it like?

S: It was sort of typical of any election that we do. In our case, everything went
really smooth. We did not have problems with the phone lines. The canvassing
board began processing the absentee ballots, started running them. About the
only thing we did have a problem with is that one of our polling places has an
elevator, and the elevator shut down. For about an hour-and-a-half, we had to
direct voters up a flight of stairs while the people from the elevator company
came over and fixed the elevator. That was the only problem we actually had at
any precinct on election day. It was a typical presidential [election] where you are
just plain old busy all day long. It started right at 7:00 [a.m.] and ended that night
at 7:00. Our uploads went well; we did not have any problems there. We had our
results in at like 7:45 or something.

P: When the election was as close as it was, there is an automatic recount. Exactly
what procedure did you go through for that recount?

S: What we did is we cleared the main computer here in Key West of all the totals,
and we got the memory cards from all of the AccuVotes and we reran the
memory cards.

P: You did not put each vote back through the tabulating-machine?

S: No.

P: Clay Roberts [Florida State Supervisor of Elections] indicated that when he
mentioned that a recount would be taken, that was what he expected to be done.

S: What they need to do, and the legislature still has not done, if they want that,
they need to change Florida statutes because we did this like we have done any
other recount and we did it according to law. Contrary to popular belief, there is

Page 4

no opinion from the Division of Elections, an official opinion, dealing with this.
Clay Roberts is brand new to all of this anyway. Maybe in his mind that is what
he thought, but he did not know the law.

P: Well, twenty-some counties did it the same way you did it, so obviously it is not
very clear.

S: No, it is not.

P: I know in Alachua County they did it the same way you did.

S: Interestingly enough, Mr. Roberts and some of his other people up there now are
looking at touchscreen systems, and touchscreen systems would recount the
same identical way.

P: While we are on that, what would you think of that kind of technology?

S: The technology is okay, but it is very, very, very expensive to the taxpayers. Our
system does exactly what touchscreen does, only in a different way. As opposed
to punch card systems, [where] no one knows about over-votes, under-votes or
anything else until the reports are in after the ballots are tabulated. On our
system, [if] a voter over-votes a race, when they go to put their ballot into the
AccuVote, it is kicked back to them and they are told that they over-voted a
certain race, and then they are told to go back and get another ballot and vote it
[correctly]. In the case of touchscreen, of course, automatically, it just will not
allow them to do it. The difference is that this system in 1993 cost us between
$150,000 and $165,000.

P: That was a deal.

S: Well, the unit, altogether as you see it standing there, is about $5,000, and the
price is still about the same. A touchscreen system for Monroe County, to provide
the same level of service to the voters that we presently provide, would cost us
about one million dollars. So, when you look at $165,000, even at today's prices,
maybe $200,000 against one million dollars, our system will do the same thing,
only in a different way but accomplish[ing] the same thing.

P: Plus, a lot of elderly people are not going to be comfortable using touchscreen,
are they?

S: No. Even [with] the touchscreen systems that provide a larger ballot and
everything, that voter has to know to tell that person when they get their little
Smart Card [computer card] that they need that. If they go over there and start to

Page 5

vote and they realize that, they have already started voting and there is not
anything you can do about it. They are locked in. There are problems in that
respect, even though the system does provide a larger ballot.
P: Did you have any litigation at all as a result of this election?

S: No.

P: Tell me the story you mentioned when we first came in about this citizen of the

S: A few weeks ago, our state attorney's office arrested a person here in Monroe
County from a complaint that we had filed with the state attorney's office, [that
this] person was not a citizen of this country. He was born in Germany. He
registered to vote and has been voting for a number of years. He has nine felony
counts for registering to vote and voting in elections that he was not entitled to
vote in, and he is in the newspaper today as Citizen of the [Week], in our local
Key West Citizen. A few weeks ago, they ran the article on the fact that he had
been arrested and charged with nine felonies.

P: Did he vote in the previous election?

S: No, he did not.

P: How many illegal voters did you have?

S: Well, we do not know. He is the only one that we have actually had a complaint
[on], [for whom] we had information [on which] we filed a complaint. But other
than that, we do not have any other information. So, really, the answer is, I do not

P: Should felons be allowed to vote?

S: Felons who are either serving time or completing their sentence, no, but I believe
once they have paid their debt to society, they should be allowed to vote, yes.

P: There was some confusion about the felon list. Which list did you eventually use?

S: Probably the third list. The very first list, we sent back to the [Florida] Division [of
Elections] because there were inaccuracies that we knew [of]. There were people
they had on there as convicted felons who were not, people who were [listed as]
dead [who] were [actually] alive. Our assistant supervisor of elections' husband is
a Florida marine patrolman. They had him as dead or a felon, one of the two. It
was just useless, and so we actually just put it in an envelope and mailed it back

Page 6

to the Division and told them we were not going to use it. Then, a little bit down
the road, we had a meeting with EBT, the database company that the Division of
Elections used, and some people from the Division. They started narrowing
things down, but they still were providing, sort of like, near-misses. You know,
somebody's name and date of birth, but their social security number did not
match, or their social security number and their name matched and not the date
of birth or their race. Our policy here, and we enacted it somewhere around the
third list, is everything has to be an absolute match before we would even send
the voter a letter saying that they needed to contact the Florida Department of
Law Enforcement and get their records straightened out.

P: So, if you did not hear back from that letter, you dropped them from the rolls?

S: If it was a perfect match.

P: What percentage turnout did you have?

S: Our turnout was 70 percent.

P: How did your canvassing board perform?

S: Our canvassing board really, I think, did a great job. From what I have heard of
other counties around the state, some of the actions [of] some of the canvassing
boards, I think our canvassing board did a great job. We were very busy. The
three members of our board actually do the duplicating if there is duplicating to
be done. We do not have a team of staff or anyone else; we do that ourselves.
Any duplicating that is to be done or anything like that, it is our board's job to do

P: What are their political affiliations?

S: The judge, his office is nonpartisan. We had the property appraiser on our
canvassing board here in Monroe County, and he is a Democrat.

P: So, there was one Republican, one Democrat, one nonpartisan.

S: Right.

P: During the process, was there any political pressure applied to you by either the
Democrats or the Republicans?

S: No.


Page 7

P: Did you have any agitation, any kind of visits from Jesse Jackson [civil rights
leader; unsuccessful candidate for Democratic presidential nomination, 1984,
1988] or Bob Dole [Republican candidate for U.S. president, 1996; U.S. Senator
from Kansas, 1969-1996] or anything like that?

S: No, we did not.

P: So, you had no protests with the kind of impact that Dade County and Palm
Beach County had.

S: Actually, we had none. The only time that we saw representatives from the
parties was when we looked at the overseas ballots that we opened the tenth day
after the election, and both parties' representatives were well-behaved. We did
not have any problems. I think the Democratic party, at one point, challenged all
of our overseas [ballots]. Then they rescinded the challenge except for one or
two, and at the end of the day, they had rescinded those two. We did not have a
problem with the parties at all here. Everybody was well-behaved. We had
Republicans who had flown in from Washington, and they were in this room right
here. We had chairs set up for them, and the canvassing board sat where you
are sitting. [It was] as smooth [of] a process as anyone could hope for under
those conditions. I think it was great.

P: How many under-votes did you have?

S: We had eighty-three under-votes.

P: When you looked at the under-votes, could you tell the intent of the voter? How
did you assess the under-votes?

S: Out of the eighty-three, [on] all but twelve the voter did not vote in the presidential
race at all. Of the twelve who had marked outside the oval or something along
that line, we could readily tell who they were voting for. [Those] twelve had voted,
they just circled the oval or checked outside the oval or something along those

P: Let's say they circled [George W.] Bush [U.S. President, 2001-present; Texas
governor, 1995-2001] rather than actually filling in the little oval, you would count

S: Yes, we would.

P: On over-votes, they voted for all of them or three of them or two of them. Those
were just automatically eliminated?

Page 8

S: Right. We had ninety-seven over-votes. The interesting thing about that is most
of those over-votes were at the precinct, which meant that the voter, when they
over-voted their ballot, did not ask for another ballot and did not want another

P: Because it did return it to them, right?

S: Yes, it did. So, they would have said I do not want another ballot; run my ballot
through, that is it. We can override the system, and the ballot goes through. All
the races are counted except the ones that are over-voted. So, these were
conscious decisions by voters [who] did not want to go back and get another
ballot. They just wanted to leave, and they ran their ballot through.

P: When you look at the overview of the process by state officials, would you say
that Katherine Harris, the [Florida] Secretary of State [1998-present], was
objective in her decision making?

S: I cannot answer that question. I don't know what information she had at the time
she made her decisions. I can say this: up until this last election, and since 1988
when I was elected, that year there was a commotion in one of the counties
when a canvassing board member refused to sign the certification. After that, the
legislature created a law that would fine a member of the canvassing board for
every day that the certification was late. I don't know about Ms. Harris' opinion,
but my opinion was that was a date certain. If [we] did not have the election
certified by then, we would be fined. When I looked at that, I looked at the intent
of the legislature and I said, well, we know the intent of the legislature is that it
has to be done, or they are going to start fining you. That is the way I looked at it.

P: The law says both that you "shall" certify the votes and "can" certify the votes.

S: Right. There are conflicting statutes, granted, but I look at the one that provides
the penalty. That is the one that I feel needs to [be] followed more than anything
because there is a penalty.

P: Judge Terry Lewis [Leon County Circuit Court Judge, 1988-present] ruled that
the votes literally had to be counted on time, but gave her some flexibility.

S: Right.

P: Did you agree with that court decision?

S: If a judge says it and the Supreme Court [says it], I have no choice but to agree.

Page 9

It is my nature that when the courts direct us to do something, no matter what my
professional or personal feelings are, they are set aside to follow what the judge
says. If that is the interpretation of the judge and the interpretation of the Florida
Supreme Court and, later on, the interpretation of the U. S. Supreme Court, I do
not disagree with any of them.

P: The Democrats argue that she was given flexibility and the court decision said if
you are open Sunday at 5:00, the votes are due then. The Democrats argue they
were never open Sunday at 5:00, that they should have waited until Monday
morning. Of course, the Palm Beach County votes were two hours late and did
not get counted. So, the Democrats argued that she was being partisan. What is
your reaction to that?

S: I look at [it] this way. The Florida Supreme Court, to me, [gave] an order. Even
though it left it up to her, I believe if I had been in her shoes, I would have been
open on Sunday, and I would have followed the direction of the court. I believe
that is what she did.

P: She had that option. The court said, if you are open Sunday at 5:00, the votes
are due.

S: Right. But you know what? I think in that case I would have taken that as a very
strong hint from the Florida Supreme Court saying, we are not going to tell you,
but we think you should be open on Sunday to accept the results from those

P: Some people argue she could have waited until the ten-day absentee vote period
and count them all at once.

S: I know, but that is not what the court was directing her to do. Here they are,
laying guidelines out for her, and all of a sudden people turn around and say,
well, you could have done this. Well, that is not what the court directed her to do,
and I think in that case when the Florida Supreme Court is directing you to do
something a certain way, even though they provided some latitude, they did not
provide that great a latitude.

P: The other day in the news, I read where Manatee and Escambia Counties
disconnected the function which rejected the over-votes during the election. They
said they did it to speed up [the] process and save money. I think it was about
twenty-three cents a vote. Why would somebody pay for all that technology and
then disable it?

S: I do not know. The only thing I know [is that] if they had set up a ballot to reject a

Page 10

race that is not voted, we could be there for two weeks voting. I understand that.
Our ballots will reject, and the reason for that is if somebody went along and they
underline every [candidate's] name or put a mark out here or something, the
whole ballot is rejected as blank-voted. That means the voter made a mistake
and did not vote the ballot properly.

P: So, you would have to re-vote the entire ballot?

S: Right. That is not a problem, and that does not take long at all. But you can
program the election to return a ballot, say, I vote this race, I vote this race, and I
say I do not want to vote this race, and I go along, and when it detects a race that
is not voted, it can reject it and say that you did not vote that race. Now, I have
been asked this question a lot, and I have very strong feelings about that. If I am
voting in an election and I care not to vote and it is my personal reason for not
voting for the superintendent of schools, for instance, I do not want anybody else
to know that. I think my right to a secret ballot covers that entire ballot, and
whether I voted a race or not. I think I have a constitutional right to that privacy
and to the secret ballot. Rejecting a ballot when a person has not voted a race, I
think, violates that.

P: But once that happens, you, as a voter, can say I want this ballot certified, right?

S: You could, yes.

P: How many chances do you get if you foul up a ballot? Three tries?

S: Yes, but, you know, we train our poll workers to [allow] that voter to vote if it
takes ten ballots. It is just what the law says. We are not very strict about it. We
are also not very strict about the time limit that voters have in the voting booth. If
somebody was taking advantage [of the time limit] if people came in and
loaded up every voting booth in some form of protest or something, then we
would use the law to allow other voters to come in and vote. But if it takes you
ten minutes, and I see that in a lot of elections where there are number of
initiatives that voters are looking at, it would take someone longer than five
minutes if they have not taken the time ahead to look at it and make a decision
before they get to the polls. So, if they are there reading and trying to make up
their minds, we are not going to push them out of the booth and tell them your
five minutes is up.

P: What process did you go through to deal with absentee ballots?

S: In what respect?


Page 11

P: There were problems with absentee ballots in two counties, as you know, Martin
and Seminole Counties. Sandra Goard [supervisor of elections, Seminole
County] allowed the Republicans to come in and put down the voter identification
numbers, and in another case, allowed the Democrats to handle the ballots. In
one case, the ballots were actually outside of the supervisor's office.

S: No, we did not do anything like that. We had the same problem with the
Republican mail-out that they did with the absentees. We did not let the
Republican party come in and look up anything. What we did is we contacted the
voter and got the information from them. We either got it over the telephone,
[and] we actually did a mail-out. We mailed a letter to that voter and told them we
needed information from them so we could send them an absentee ballot. So, we
handled that ourselves. We did not let anybody else come into the office and do

P: Do you have a signature match system?

S: Yes, we do.

P: All of that is on computers?

S: Yes, sir.

P: Is an absentee ballot an opportunity for fraud?

S: I think any kind [of voting is an opportunity for fraud]. Voting at the polls is an
opportunity for fraud. You have vote-buying. You have all kinds of things that can
happen out there that open opportunities for fraud. I do not believe absentee
voting is any more [of] a threat than voting at the polls. If we did not have
absentee voting, a lot of voters would be shut out and not able to vote for
whatever reason.

P: Have you had an increase in absentee voting?

S: Yes, we have, and I promote that. I let people know they can vote absentee. We
have a whole [group of] what we call our permanents who we contact once a
year to make sure that they still want to remain an absentee voter. A lot of the
elderly or people who are sick, people who have jobs that they cannot get away
[from] to go vote on election day, they would be completely shut out of this
system if it was not for absentee voting.

P: Do you require a reason for requesting an absentee ballot?


Page 12

S: No. Actually, the law just changed, so we do not ask for a reason, [but] we did
not before, either.

P: During the election, did you note or find any examples of fraud or attempted

S: Not with the voting. You always get the feeling that people are just trying to work
their way around the law if they did not have their voter registration card or
something like that, but as far as any kind of vote fraud, no.

P: Do you agree with the decision to allow provisional ballots?

S: Yes. Probably the only area that we are going to see a provisional ballot in this
county is maybe a few people who would get an absentee ballot and throw it
away and then want to go to the polls and vote. The way we are laid out and the
way our precincts report, we don't have a problem with them getting in [touch by]
phone to check and see if somebody is registered to vote. We are not looking at
it in that respect. We are probably going to see some as far as the absentee
ballot situation.

P: Let me get back to the overseas absentee ballot. How did you determine the
validity of that? Did there have to be a postmark?

S: No.

P: How do you feel about, for example, the overseas military ballots?

S: Actually, our canvassing board came to a decision based on Boardman v. Esteva
[decision states primary concern is determining validity of absentee ballots -
whether they were cast by qualified, registered voters, who were entitled to vote
absentee and did so in a proper manner]. Absent of fraud or any indication of
fraud, we felt that we should count the ballot, and we did.

P: As long as they arrived here on time?

S: Yes.

P: Should there be statewide voting standards, particularly to determine the intent of
the voter?

S: You know, beauty is in the eye of the beholder. As long as the statewide
standards cover everything, because there are going to be people out there who
are going to look at these statewide standards, hold them to what they are, [and]

Page 13

anything outside of that is not going to get a review at all. To create a standard,
you also have to create, somewhere within those standards, some flexibility
because you do not want to see a voter shut out just because some standard is
established and for some reason they didn't make it. Whatever the standard is,
the people creating these standards have to have a full and complete
understanding of the system, and not just the system [but also] how the voters
handle that system.

P: So, if it's done, it shouldn't be done by the legislature; it should be done by Clay
Roberts [and] supervisors of elections. Would that be better?

S: Actually, this is one time I think something should be done by committee, and this
is probably it. It should include supervisors who have used the system, who have
conducted elections. You have to remember, the legislature runs for office, they
don't run the election, and the people in the Division of Elections, Clay Roberts
on down, have never actually conducted an election in their life. They need to
have people involved who have and who have a full understanding about how
voters handle a ballot.

P: With the new bill from the legislature, now, theoretically, the state is going to
have uniform equipment, but obviously there are different vendors. How do you
think that will work? Will there be any discrepancies in the accuracy of these

S: As far as accuracy, punch cards are accurate. When you bring the voter into
play, then all of a sudden there are inaccuracies.

P: So, that is true on any ballot?

S: It is true on any ballot. It is true on this system. It is true on any system. I think,
and I have heard people say, that filling in the oval is probably about the easiest
thing for a voter to understand and to do compared to completing an arrow, for
instance, on the Eagle [voting system]. Any system you put out there for the voter
to use, you have to look at voter education, long term, a way of providing
instruction at the polls. When you do that, you will notice that the accuracy of the
election increases, as opposed to, say, [if] you throw a system out there and
expect people to go vote and they have no idea what they are doing. That would
include touchscreen. I can see a voter standing there and looking at a
touchscreen and [saying], what do I do now?

P: They might not know how to turn the page, for example.

S: Exactly. How to turn a page, how do I cast my ballot, it keeps moving between

Page 14

but it will not go to the other side all kinds of things I can see happening. I
voted on a touchscreen at one of our conferences, and I kept hitting the thing and
nothing happened. I am standing there saying, how many of these are in our
polls? Then I was informed by the vendor that the amount of pressure it takes to
highlight that race is established in the program, and that could be adjusted to
where it takes a light touch or a heavy touch.

P: You might hit it accidently?

S: Yes. You know, I type heavy, I pound the keys, so I have a heavy finger and I
was just touching it too hard. Now, what happens to a voter who is in the booth
trying to make that thing work. Time and time again I have told everyone [that]
there is no such thing such thing as a perfect system. But we need to make sure
that our voters know what they are doing when they go to the polls. You have to
always anticipate at the polling place itself, [that] there are going to be people
who are not going to know what they are doing.

P: When your voters register, do they have to fill in a little bubble when they sign in?

S: We are doing that now. In fact, we have people from Sequoia Pacific [Voting
Machines] right here today. There is an upgrade to our registration system. One
of the things they worked on yesterday was on the precinct register, there is an
oval right by [the place] where they sign their name, and they are going to be
filling in that oval.

P: I notice that several counties already do that.

S: We are set [to do that] right now.

P: What about the cost of these machines? You have already purchased voting
machines, so is the state going to give you money to use for other purposes?

S: My understanding is that we have somewhere in the neighborhood of $123,000
that we can use to upgrade. There is an upgrade that is not available right now,
but they are going through the process of certifying to our system. So, this money
could be used to purchase this upgrade. That is my understanding. I do not
believe [that] to do it any other way would be right. I think our taxpayers invested
in this system at a time when there was not a cry throughout the state for an
accurate system and they are getting the backing from the taxpayers now. I had
to present this to our county commission [and] show them the benefits of the new
system. Of course, there were a few taxpayers not many but a few prior to
the first election who thought that was a lot of money to be spending on a brand-
new system. After the first election, everybody was in love with it. [We] had that

Page 15

before. I went through that, and didn't have people banging on my door
screaming, get rid of punch cards. I went through that, and our taxpayers did,
too. To not benefit like these other counties are now would be wrong. My
understanding of this bill is that we can purchase upgrades with it, as well.

P: What was your reaction to Theresa LePore's [Supervisor of Elections, Palm
Beach County] decision to use the butterfly ballot?

S: I really do not have a reaction. I have looked at that butterfly ballot many, many
times, and I would not have a problem voting it. I know that one of the first things
we discussed when we went to AccuVote was, where we [were] going to put the
ovals, because our system allows for it to be placed to the left of the name, right
next to it, and state law required that we put it to the right. In that respect, [the
butterfly ballot] does not conform to state law, and I would have a problem with
that. On the other side of the coin, I know personally, from talking to Theresa,
what her reasons were, and her reasons for doing what she did is the reason I
felt we needed to go to this system, because larger print is easier for people with
vision problems to see, easier for people to vote. She had good reason; it just
probably did not have the law behind it.

P: Do you think it cost [Al] Gore [unsuccessful Democratic presidential candidate,
2000; U.S. Vice President, 1993-2001] the election?

S: I have no opinion whatsoever on that.

P: What is your reaction to the virulent treatment of some election supervisors? You
may know that Theresa LePore literally had to have a SWAT team accompany
her to count votes, and she had death threats and horrible e-mails. That was not
limited to her; it was around the state. What is your reaction to that sort of

S: Well, you kind of start with disgust and work your way up the line. There is not
anything that justifies that kind of behavior on anyone's part, to threaten the
supervisor, to do some of the things they did to her it is incredible. In this day
and time, with our elections and when you look at democracy as a whole,
whether it was orchestrated by anyone to put pressure on Theresa or these other
supervisors one way or the other, it is wrong. It is wrong to do that. People really
do not understand, but this is a hell of a job. It is a lot of responsibility, and there
are always going to be losers in an election. Whether you lose on the side of a
referendum or you lose as a candidate, there are people there who will not
accept the loss. There is always that [element] out there. I know here in this
county, almost every single election we have done, when a candidate lost, they
had their own reasons but they did not point at us and say that we did anything to

Page 16

cause it. That is probably the, I do not want to say the nature, but bringing in
groups of people to raise the ire of a community is designed to create an
atmosphere of just what they got.

P: It probably caused Miami-Dade to call off their recount.

S: I don't know. I talked to David [Leahy] [Supervisor of Elections, Miami-Dade
County]. When I was watching that on television, I sat there and I said, David
probably knows half of the people in the hallway. I asked David later on [whether]
he [knew] those people, and he knew every one of them. These were people that
he has known forever, and they were out there screaming and hollering. I know
he was not intimidated by it because he knew them, and I felt like I had seen
some of those people at other functions myself. So, you are not intimidated by
that. If I had people in this hallway screaming and hollering and carrying on, I
doubt if anybody in this office would be worried about it because we probably
know every single one of them.

P: That issue has been sensitive for every election supervisor, because in many
cases the state and the national press assumed that the election supervisor or
the canvassing board would not be impartial, that they would vote their political

S: You know, that is dead wrong. That is dead wrong. We get to know all of the
candidates running for office here, whether they are Democrats, write-ins, [or
have] no party affiliation. We have had them all. If they are late with their reports,
they are fined regardless of their political affiliation. If they do not do something
right, we call them and tell them they need to make some changes. Election day,
when we process the absentee [ballots], people do not understand that the main
thing that we are trying to do is get finished.

We are trying to finish. We have a job to do. We are trying to do it the best we
can. We are trying to get our absentee [ballots] processed and ready to be
tabulated at 7:00 because everyone [and] the candidates are waiting for the
absentee [ballots] because we put those out first. At 7:00, we run an end card
through. We get those totals, and we release them to the press. They deal with
the absentee [ballots] for a while until our precincts start coming in. Personally, I
hate to see anyone lose. You get to know the candidates, the Democrats, the
Republicans. My party affiliation does not play any part whatsoever in any
decision that I make. Our canvassing board member, our property appraiser, Mr.
Higgs, his party affiliation played no part in it, and our judge [is] the same way. It
is interesting, there [have] been many, many psychological-type studies done on
crowds, and when you get a crowd together, an angry mob or even a good
group, they all take on a personality. Our canvassing board is the same way. You

Page 17

get three people together [that] have a job to do, you know you need to do it in a
nonpartisan way, and all of a sudden it happens. That is the way we are, and that
is the way we conduct those elections. Just to give you an idea, when we have
our absentee ballots, the first thing [that happens] is the envelopes are opened
over there, and then the canvassing board sits there and we separate the ballot
from the envelope. The ballot, of course, is in a secrecy sleeve. All of those are
separated. Then we take those envelopes and put them aside, and start pulling
out the ballot from the secrecy envelope. We have no idea who that voter is, who
voted that ballot, and it is painstaking work because it takes a long time for three
people to go through about 5,000 absentee [ballots]. It is a two-step process just
so we can assure that voters cast secret ballotss, that we do not even know who
that voter is. We go through a lot of trouble to maintain that level of integrity in
what we do, and our canvassing board members are the same way.

P: Of course, it would be absolutely idiotic for anybody to try to be partisan under
the circumstances of this previous election with the whole world watching. It
seems to be unfair for the press to insinuate that people might vote their political

S: It is completely unfair. Maybe they are using their own way of looking at it
because I have read a lot of articles and I think there are some members of the
press who [cannot] disjoint themselves from their personal feelings when they
write an article. Maybe because of that, they feel no one else can do it either. But
they need to come and look at us and see what we do, and maybe they could
write their articles in the same manner in which we conduct elections, and people
would get a fair read on what actually is happening.

P: Let me read you a statement and get your response. To what extent is it the
supervisor's responsibility to have a voting system and a ballot that makes voting
as simple as possible and diminishes any likelihood of error, and to what extent is
it the responsibility of the voter to understand instructions and vote correctly?

S: The way I have answered a similar question is [to say that] conducting an
election is teamwork. There is the election office, there are the voters we have
to work together. Actually, my staff, the poll workers and the voters all three
have to work together to have that ballot run through the AccuVote and be
counted right. I believe, and some people do not seem to agree, a voter just can't
walk into a precinct, stand there and all of a sudden magically everything is right.
The voter has to take some responsibility. I feel we need to provide a system that
is easy for them, and that is one of the things I looked at with this system. [When]
you [mark] your SATs in school, you fill in an oval. When I did it, it was two little
lines and you scratched through [them]. Mark-sense is probably the easiest for
someone to understand and actually vote.

Page 18

P: That is the name of the system, right?

S: That is how these are read it is a sensor that senses the mark on the ballot. So,
yes, we have an obligation to provide a system to our voter, but a voter has an
obligation to read the instructions, as simple as they are. You know, how simple
can it be to tell someone to completely fill in the oval to the right of the name of
the person or the issue that you want to vote [on]. You cannot get any easier
than that, and that is all you have to do, and then walk over and slide it in that
[machine] and walk out. I found that this [system] has fewer problems with
individual voters than the punch card and DataVote had when we used that.

P: If people cannot follow simple instructions, what does that say about our society?

S: We are falling down. We are falling down in our education, our schools. When I
was in school, if you didn't follow directions, you failed. You could get an F on
your paper if you did not put the heading right at the top of the page with your
name and the class. No matter what you did on the rest of the page, you would
get a big F when the paper got back because you did not follow directions. I
remember I took this funky test one time. The instructor and I know you have
heard this there are twenty questions and he will say, read the questions first
and then go back and start answering, and down at [the] second from the bottom
it says do question two. You see people sitting there and answering every single
question because they did not follow directions, and if you followed the
directions, you read all the questions first, you get down to [number] nineteen
and it says do question two and turn in, or something like that, and you would go
up and do question two. There are few people around the room, we are sitting
there waiting while these other people are just going along not following
directions. I think what we need to do is go back to making sure that people are
cognizant of the fact that they need to follow directions. We see it on the street,
especially here. We have people from all over the country walking [on] the
streets. Do you know how many people walk out in front of a car coming at them
at 30 mph and don't even look at the light? They just walk across. People just
feel they can do whatever they want, and the rest of the world has to take care of
them. I don't think our voters really feel that way. I think the press feels that way,
but I think our voters [do not]. I have talked to both parties, their executive
committees, [and] the political parties here in Monroe County both agree that
voters need to follow directions, and we did not have that huge problem. I think
twelve out of 34,000 voters is pretty good. Both the Democrats and the
Republicans feel that the voter has some kind of obligation to follow directions.
This divining and discerning, or whatever, of the intent of the voter, I think
determining the intent of the voter is not a problem but divining it is.


Page 19

P: What kind of visuals did you use at the polling place to assist the voter?

S: At each inspector station, [by] the person who hands out the ballot, there is a
sample ballot there for them to see. When the voter is handed a ballot, the
inspector says, you vote your ballot the same as this right here, you fill in the
oval. We have what we call an audit ticket, and that is the ticket to get to the
AccuVote. So, when a voter goes, they vote their ballot, which is inside a manila
file folder. When they go over, they hand this audit ticket to the ballot box
inspector. Then they slide their ballot in and they get an "I Voted" sticker and they
leave. The audit ticket also has directions on how to vote that ballot. In the voting
booth, in Spanish and in English, we have instructions. In the last election, we
also provided instructions in how to vote the write-in. We have that in the voting
booth. From the time the person walks in the precinct, visually, there is the demo
ballot, they are told [the instructions], there is the audit ticket, and there are
instructions in the voting booth.

P: Plus, you have already published the ballot in the newspaper and sent it by mail
to registered voters.

S: We publish the ballot. We don't send it by mail to the registered voters, but we do
publish it in the newspaper. The statute gives you the option of one or the other.
You can either mail a sample ballot to all the voters, or you can put it in the
newspaper. We put it in the newspaper.

P: What else do you do for voter education, or what should you do?

S: One of the things we are doing, we are doing today. You are keeping me away
from it, and I love it. We are out in the public a lot. We conduct a lot of elections
for groups here. We conduct elections for the Key West and Monroe County
Housing Authority. There are low cost housing communities all over. They are in
Key West, they are in Marathon and Key Largo. They vote our ballots. We
provide, in those cases, a generic ballot we have created. We order them 10,000
at a time. That is another thing, we started a bookmark. We actually conduct
these elections the same. There is an election board, there are ballots. This is
our generic ballot right here. We give those to organizations, and all they do is
take this to a printer, and they print the names by the ovals. This is part of the
Key West Housing Authority's drug eradication program, that they elect a youth
and adult council at that level for each housing community. We also do elections
for the Chamber of Commerce, the Key West Business Guild, and we also
conduct elections for our high schools. We have an election going on today at the
Key West High School; they are electing class officers. There are ballots that we
provide. The students are voting on our system, and we will get the results this
afternoon when they finish voting. So, we are out there with large organizations

Page 20

that are actually conducting real live elections. They vote the same [as] they
would on election day. They go in, they have an inspector that has a precinct
register. Like at the high school, they have a register. They get in line, they sign
that register, they are given a ballot, and they go vote in our voting booths
because we put those out, and there is an AccuVote set up there for them, too.
One of the programs that we started that ended up becoming statewide is [that]
we are using students as poll workers. When we started this, we could only use
eighteen-year-old seniors because the statute said that our poll workers had to
be registered voterss. That worked really well, and all of a sudden the juniors
wanted to participate in this also. So, we started using some of the junior class to
do address changes and things like that at the polls, but we did not let them hand
out ballots. Our assistant supervisor of elections got together with our state
representative and started doing some research and came up with some ideas
from other states, and we were able to get an amendment to the poll worker
statute that allows pre-registered seventeen-year-olds to work the polls. Our poll
workers love it. We have students who are at the polls at 7:00. They work the
election [on] election day. They get credit toward graduation; this is a community
service project for them. They also get paid for the hours that they are not in

P: What do you pay them?

S: We pay them $75.

P: For the day?

S: For the day.

P: Is that across the board? What about the official poll workers?

S: No, our poll workers get paid more than that.

P: What do the poll workers get paid?

S: An inspector is paid $120 for the day, or actually for that entire election.

P: So, you do not have much trouble getting poll workers.

S: Oh, yes, we do. We have been increasing our poll worker salary; almost every
election, we have had to increase it to get to the point where we are getting poll
workers, but we are still not getting as many as we would like. That is where the
students come into play. They really fill a gap. There is a tremendous void. Poll
worker salaries, there is a tremendous void there that the students have filled.

Page 21

We have had elections coming up right before training, and all of a sudden we
are scrambling because we are trying to find poll workers. The students we
actually train in the school; they give us a classroom, and we train the students in
school. Now, if they are not in school that day for some reason, we have our poll
worker training class on Saturdays. So, they will show up for that class.

P: How long does that class last?

S: Usually we start about 8:30 and finish about noon. And, we do it in threes. We
start out about two-and-a-half weeks or so before the election [and] do training in
Plantation Key for the precincts up there in the morning. Then in the afternoon,
we are down in Marathon, and we train the poll workers in those precincts. Then
the following weekend, we train the poll workers in the lower Keys here in Key

P: During this election, there were charges that there was racial discrimination, that
in some places there were roadblocks, that people were not given second
ballots, that they had registered with the Motor Voter bill and were not on the
registration rolls. Did you find any of that in Monroe County?
S: No. We had a tremendous amount of cooperation from law enforcement here.
We did not have any allegations like that at all. In fact, after the election, the Civil
Rights Commission subpoenaed our sheriff, myself and our mayor, and we
testified in front of them. That was one of the questions they asked the sheriff,
about [whether there were] any roadblocks, and we had no roadblocks. [Tape
interrupted.] That was one of the questions the sheriff was asked, and the
sheriff's department had not done anything, nor had the Florida Highway Patrol
or anyone else. So, we did not have any roadblocks or anything going on at any
of our precincts. Pretty much, if anything does happen, we get called right away.
We would have known, even without the sheriff saying anything. Somebody
would have called us, and we would have taken care of it. We have had, in other
elections where, [for example], the Aqueduct Authority busted a water main in
front of one of our polling places, and it was like a river in front of the place. I
went over there, and right away the Aqueduct [Authority] was there, they got it
capped [and] pumped out all the water. We have a really good relationship with
all of our law enforcement and utility companies and things like that, so if things
do happen, we take care of them right away. And nothing happened.

P: Do you think the Civil Rights Commission overreacted? Were you in any way
offended by having to testify?

S: No. I think the Civil Rights Commission did what they were supposed to. If you
have a group of people making accusations, somebody has to come along and
clear them up. I don't think the Civil Rights Commission came in there with any

Page 22

intent one way or the other. I think they just wanted the facts, and they wanted a
record established as to the facts. I think they served a greater purpose in
creating some light here so that everyone could hear [the evidence] and hear the
people testify. Otherwise, all they were going to hear from day-one would be
rumors. I think they served a real, live purpose in conducting these hearings.

P: What is your view of the Motor Voter bill?

S: You want my view of the Motor Voter bill?

P: Absolutely.

S: If it wasn't for the Motor Voter bill, we wouldn't have had the problems in these
elections that we just had. When we were looking at the voter [during
registration], we [had] trained volunteers to register voters. We had voters we
actually looked [at] and physically dealt with. I am not going to say we didn't have
any convicted felons registering to vote and we didn't have any [non]-U. S.
citizens, but [we had] nowhere near the volume that we are looking at today. I
wish to God I could remember who it was who said it, but I remember when
Congress was looking at [the] Motor Voter [bill], one of them stood up and said,
yeah, we are going to have convicted felons register[ing] to vote and we are
probably going to have people who are not U. S. citizens registering to vote, but
the number is going to be so small that they will never affect the results of an
election. We can't really say with any certainty anymore how accurate our roll is
with respect to U. S. citizens or convicted felons, or anything, for that matter. We
do not know, and no one can say, there could be someone walking around out
there with fifteen voter registration cards going to different addresses. I know it's
difficult, but it's not impossible. If you are looking at a guy who comes in and
says, my name is Jerry Smith, and in two weeks he comes in and says my name
is John Doe, somebody is going to remember this guy. When it is just voter
application cards coming through, you do not see that person; you really do not

P: Did that bill increase the number of registered voters significantly?

S: Yes, it did. On the average, in Monroe County, for a presidential election, we had
about 40,000 registered voters. Nowadays, our roll is over 50,000 all the time.

P: What was your reaction to the United States Supreme Court decision, five to
four, to stop the Florida recount?

S: I didn't really have one. I was ready to do whatever they said. At that point, it is
sort of like you are in the twelfth round and you are waiting for that bell to ring,

Page 23

and you are just getting hit every once in a while. That was my case. I was just
[ready for] whatever the U. S. Supreme Court said; that is what I felt would end it
one way or the other.

P: You were okay, you had already done your count by then, so there was no
pressure on you, per se.

S: No, none at all. But, you know, whatever they wanted, whatever their decision
was, like I said before, I am so used to court decisions, in that usually whatever
my personal opinion is does not even float to the surface; it is whatever the
courts order us to do, and I find a way to accomplish what the courts want. I am
just used to that.

P: What is your reaction to the recount done by the New York Times or The Miami

S: They paid for it, so they deserve what they get. We probably charged them the
least amount of money of most people. We accommodated them as much as we
could. We have nothing to hide. Even the counties that sort of resisted it, I do not
believe they were trying to hide anything; I just think they felt that they were
invaded. As far as the reporters who were here, they were well-behaved and
well-mannered, and they did their job and left. We did not have a problem with
them, and they pretty much cooperated with what we had to do as an election
office and accommodated us as far as the dates and the times. They paid for it,
so our taxpayers did not have to pay for this recount. They were welcome to the
information. We would have provided it for them one way or the other anyway.

P: Who do you think won Florida?

S: Well, I read all the newspapers. The newspapers say [George W.] Bush won,
and Bush is the certified winner. That is sort of the way I go. You have to look at
who legally stands as the winner.

P: The cost of the recount in the state of Florida was three million dollars. Katherine
Harris' legal fees were one million dollars. Should the taxpayers have had to pay
for all these recounts, or should it have been paid for by the parties making the
legal suit?

S: No, I believe this is the responsibility of government, and the taxpayers pay for
the government. I do not think anyone's ability to ask for a recount in an election
should be determined by how much money they have.

P: What personal toll did the thirty-six days have on you?

Page 24

S: I will tell you it creates a lot of stress. We felt that we did nothing wrong here in
Monroe County, we did our jobs. We were getting very favorable press here from
all of our newspapers, including The Miami Herald. So, we were in a good light.
But I am the kind of person that if others in my field are being hit on, it bothers
me too. I felt their stress. I felt their grief. I watched it. We had the television on
every day here watching the proceedings, not only [in] Palm Beach County but in
Leon County. So, yes, there was a lot of stress. You feel to a degree that there
were people out there trying to take advantage of a process, to try and make all
the supervisors in this state look bad when, in fact, we are probably the best in
the country. I know we are as well-trained, we are more well-trained, than [in]
most states. I told ABC News when they were down here that no state in this
country could have withstood the scrutiny that we did and come out looking as
good as we did.

P: Bob Graham [U.S. Senator from Florida, 1987-present; Florida governor, 1979-
1987] said that several senators from Oregon and Louisiana and Illinois said, it is
a good thing they did not come and put us in the spotlight because there would
have been....

S: Absolutely.

P: One thing you did not find in this state was a lot of fraud.

S: No, we did not. The fact that the newspapers and others could go into any county
in this state and re-create that election based on our records says a lot for us in
the first place. There are places [other states] where they would go in and there
would be no record. You know, here is the count, and that is it. I think that says a
lot for all of the supervisors of elections in this state, that you can come out in the
end, whether it was The Herald or The Consortium, their recounts, and come out
with something. Other states, they would have walked in and said, well, we
cannot put this together. I have read articles in some election-related newsletters
from other states where the courts have gone in to other states and tried to re-
create an election, and a judge, in the end, throws his hands up and says we
cannot re-create this election at all. They did [recreate the election] in Florida. It
is going to be even easier now that everyone is going to be on optical scan as
opposed to pregnant chads and all of this. It is going to be even easier in the
future than it was the last time.

P: Was the national press unfair to Florida, with all those jokes? "Flori-duh."

S: Nah. You know something? One of the things you realize in this job, you are
going to take a hit as far as jokes and cracks. If the national press thought this

Page 25

was going to demoralize us, they were wrong because we were e-mailing this
stuff all around to each other all through it. You have to realize that in any
situation like this, there [are] going to be jokes, there is going to be kidding. I
have been standing around outside the cruise ship that lets people off down
here, and they walk by. Just a couple of days ago, I was standing outside, and
this man and his wife walked by. He said, well, you all finished with the election
yet? I said, no, I got somebody from the University of Florida coming down here,
wants to talk to us about the election. I don't think it is ever going to go away. Six
months later we are still dealing with it. But you know something? If you can't
look at this and smile, then you shouldn't have this job; you should be doing
something else.

P: Do you look at your job differently now than you did before this election?

S: No. I took my job seriously before this. I say no, but yes, [I do look at the job
differently]. I think what I see a little more of today that I did not back then is that
there is probably, I hope, more of an awareness on the part of the voters, [as to]
what their responsibilities are. I know they have conducted elections in West
Palm, Dade and Broward Counties since this, and the elections were almost
flawless. Their voters pulled the chads off and things like that. So, yes. I know
that we have an obligation, that we need to make sure that the voters, when they
get that ballot, know what they are doing. I felt this before. I feel a little stronger
about it now. But like I said, we had twelve voters who marked outside the oval
out of 34,000, so we are doing real good. But even twelve voters, people could
argue with me about that. I wouldn't think it is fair, and I wouldn't think it was
right, but that is an argument. So, we want to get that down to zero.

P: Do you think the public now has a different view of your office?

S: In some respects, yes. They realize how tough this is. They still think we do
elections every two years and wonder what we do the rest of the time. But I could
not tell you how many people have stopped me and said, Harry, I never realized
all the law and all the things you do or have to go through in order to conduct an
election. I have told people all along [that] we make it look too easy. They walk in
there on election day, they get a ballot, go to the booth, vote it, they go and drop
it in the AccuVote and leave bam, two or three minutes, they are done. They
turn around and look at that process and say, gee, that is not so hard, and they
do not realize all the training, the programming and everything that goes into this
to get ready for election day and have it all come together. We talk here in this
office all the time about being nervous on election day. Election day is not the
day to be nervous because it is sort of on automatic at that point. If you have
done your job and put it all together, when everything is out there and the people
are voting, it is sort of running itself. We are not running it. All the work we did

Page 26

before is paying off at that point, and it is running itself. I think the next day is
when you have to worry more than anything. But election day, if you have done
your job, everything just kind of rolls along. That is the way it is.

P: In some ways the 2000 election has been good for you because now people
have a better understanding and appreciation for what you do.

S: Yes, they do.

P: And in some ways a better understanding of what they need to do.

S: Exactly, that is true. I guess I have to say yes, I do look at some things
differently, but we have always taken this very seriously.

P: One of the issues that came up was that the television stations called the election
before the voters finished in west Florida. Should there be a national poll closing

S: I don't know about a national poll closing time. I don't agree with that. But I do
[see] our television networks looking for truth and honesty out there, but, every
four years they say, we are not going to do that [call elections early] and every
four years they do. So, we need a little honesty and a lot more integrity from
those folks. And it is not just Florida [but also] California and those states out
there; early release of this kind of data, right or wrong, affects their state and
local races, and maybe the presidential [race]. It is not just Florida that gets hit by
it. I'm not so sure that a national poll closing time is going to have any affect at
all, as long as the press is saying who the winner of the presidential election is.
Whether all the polls close at a certain time is not going to stop these [reporters]
from coming out two hours ahead and saying, well, so-and-so is the president of
the United States. That in itself, no matter what time the polls close, is going to
affect the turnout. Actually, it would probably be worse, now that I think about it,
to have a national poll closing time, [because if] the press comes out two hours
early, it is going to affect the entire country. The way it is right now, it affects
those states out west. To have a national poll closing time and have the
television media pull another stunt like they have done before, would affect the
entire country.

P: Should the polling hours be increased in the state of Florida?

S: No, I don't think so. I think we have plenty of time. In fact, every election that we
have [had], I have yet to have anyone complain that we should have stayed open
longer. We pretty much get everybody voted in those twelve hours. We have
people who show up right at 7:00. In fact, about 6:45, they are standing outside

Page 27

because they want to be the first ones in their precinct to vote. Then we have the
group after 5:00 where people leaving work vote on their way home. I have never
had a group or any organization here in Monroe County say that they think we
should stay open longer.

P: Do you have any particularly memorable or interesting or amusing stories about
this election?

S: Other than the elevator breaking? [Laughter]. This election was really interesting
all the way around just in the fact of what was going on, but I think one of the
most interesting things that I dealt with was [when] we had NBC News, the
national news crew, in here for two days. They had this elastic thing around my
waist with a battery with a microphone on me for those two days. Great people.
Really enjoyed spending time with them. They said that our story was going to be
on the news one night, so everyone is watching the news. Two days worth of
tape and sound and all of that was about five seconds on the national news. It
was like, you know, you call your father and you call your daughters, and
everybody says all the staff in Key West is going to be on the news and all of
that, and they showed two very short comments from me. They wanted our
reaction if they ordered that manual recount, which the courts pulled back, and
they showed our staff wheeling the ballots back into the vault. That was it, and it
was gone. That was really amusing, because my dad calls me back and he says,
you know what? He says, if I would have gone to get a glass of water, I would
have missed you.

P: What happened to that tape? Did they give you copies of it?

S: No, we never did get a copy of it. It was Tom Brokaw [NBC Nightly News anchor;
author]. It was on their show, but they didn't send us a tape. I don't know. But it
was interesting that out of all of the counties, NBC News thought Monroe
[County] was the place to be. I was flattered, really, and still am.

P: Is there anything else that we have not covered or touched on that you would like
to discuss?

S: No, I think we have covered most everything. Again, and, I have said this before,
I think the supervisors in this state are the best in the country. I think the answers
that the press got and everything else is partly because of the job we do. We
provide a good record.

[End of the interview.]


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