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Title: Interview with Babs Montpetit
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Title: Interview with Babs Montpetit
Physical Description: Book
Language: English
Publication Date: November 2, 2001
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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.
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Bibliographic ID: UF00066567
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 10

Table of Contents
    Copyright
        Copyright
    Interview
        Page 1
        Page 2
        Page 3
        Page 4
        Page 5
        Page 6
        Page 7
        Page 8
        Page 9
        Page 10
        Page 11
        Page 12
        Page 13
        Page 14
        Page 15
        Page 16
        Page 17
        Page 18
        Page 19
        Page 20
        Page 21
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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
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SAMUEL PROCTOR ORAL HISTORY PROGRAM at
the University of Florida









FEP 10
Interviewee: Babs Montpetit
Interviewer: Julian Pleasants
Date: November 2, 2001


P: This is Julian Pleasants and I am in Lake Butler, Union County. It is November
2, 2001. I am speaking with the Supervisor of Elections Babs Montpetit. Tell me
how you first got the job as elections supervisor.

M: I ran in 1984. There were four of us in the race and I won and started serving
office in 1985.

P: Had you had any experience before that time?

M: No I had not.

P: What prompted you to run?

M: My family had always been in politics and I liked politics. I had a lot of
encouragement from all people in the community.

P: What is your political affiliation?

M: Democrat.

P: Do you think elections supervisors ought to be non-partisan?

M: Yes, I do.

P: What difference would it make? My understanding from talking with other
elections supervisors, everybody bends over backwards to be fair.

M: That's exactly right. It wouldn't actually make any difference as far as this
county, but I think actually for the sake of the parties, that we should be non-
partisan. I don't show any favoritism in the office.

P: It would be hard to do since it's all public record.

M: That's exactly right.

P: You are the only county in the state that has paper ballots, or that had paper
ballots for the election 2000. Had you asked the county for more modern
technology?









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M: I had asked them several years ago. Then after we had some people come in
and demonstrate the machines, we decided to wait until we had approximately
10,000 registered voters. I like the paper ballot, and the people in the county like
the paper ballot.

P: How many registered voters do you have now?

M: Approximately 7,000.

P: So for 7,000, you can do the paper ballot okay. It wouldn't work in Dade County
obviously.

M: No, no.

P: A study was done by Harvard University and they concluded that the paper ballot
was the most accurate of all the ballots in the 2000 presidential election.

M: I'm not really surprised. I had a person to call me that was in politics in Canada
and a lot of their political races there are on paper ballot. The only disadvantage
in the paper ballot is the fact that we can't get the results into Tallahassee as
early as we could if we were on machines. But I personally like the paper ballot, I
like hand-counting.

P: How long does it take you to count your ballots usually?

M: It depends on how many voted actually. This election? About four hours.

P: That's not too long.

M: They're actually counted at the polling places and the only thing we count here
are the absentee ballots.

P: Talk a little bit about election day. What was it like for you?

M: Election day here was actually slow. We didn't have any major problems. It was
just a normal election day. We don't usually have a lot of problems in Union
County.

P: When did you realize that this was going to be an extraordinary election?

M: About three days after the election.

P: When did people start contacting you, the press and other media?









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M: The weekend after the election is when people started calling me. We had
already recounted our ballots. We hand-counted and then we counted again.
So, when they called from Tallahassee and asked us to count that weekend, we
had already counted.

P: This is the automatic recount that was triggered?

M: Yes.

P: One of the issues that's not really an issue for you, but it was for other elections
supervisors that we've talked to, they were not clear whether a recount meant a
tally of the machines or actually going back and recounting the vote. Some did
and some didn't. There seems to be some confusion about that.

M: There was no confusion here. We understood that we were supposed to
recount, and that's actually what we did.

P: You think that's the way it should be.

M: Yes.

P: Of course, that's a little bit difficult for somebody like Dade County.

M: That's exactly right. We can do that without, but they actually can't do that in
larger counties.

P: Did you have any problems with lawsuits or litigation or anything?

M: No.

P: How were you treated by the press do you think?

M: I didn't have any problem with the press. We had several news reporters that
were real persistent that called even after I had told them what the results were
and told them what the undervote was and the overvote was. That's what they
seemed to be real interested in in this county. We had one reporter that called
many, many times. [He] really didn't seem to understand what our results were.
The rest of the media was real fair and real well-mannered. I really didn't have a
problem.

P: How do you think they were in treating somebody like Theresa LePore?

M: I think they were unfair. Theresa LePore is probably one of the best supervisors
in the state. I've known Theresa ever since I've been in office and she was









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Jackie Winchester's assistant. She's very thorough, very smart and very open-
minded and I felt like she was treated real unfairly.

P: What was your reaction to the butterfly ballot? A lot of the press blamed her for
Gore's loss.

M: I don't think she should have been blamed at all for Gore's loss. There's
probably a possibility that she shouldn't have used that particular ballot, of
course, I don't know anything about the ballot. I don't feel like she should have
been blamed at all for Gore's loss. I think he actually just lost in Florida.

P: One of the issues for her was that she had a lot of elderly voters and was trying
to make the print bigger. But there obviously was some confusion on the part of
the voters.

M: Apparently there was.

P: How did you deal with in your ballot set-up, the ten presidential candidates?

M: You mean as far as the way they were located on the ballot? They were all on
one side of the ballot because our ballot was long enough. There was not like a
continuation of them [in columns], they were in one column. I think there was a
little bit of confusion when you have that many. That's the first time we've ever
had that many candidates since I've been in office. It was pretty evident on our
ballot as to who those people were actually voting for.

P: Do you think that ought to be changed? The ten presidential candidates?
Maybe that ought to go back to the way it was before.

M: We didn't have a problem. For the benefit of counties that did have problems,
yes, there's a possibility it should be changed.

P: You might remember in Duval County they had put them on separate pages, and
then they had said, vote every page. A lot of people ended up with a lot of
overvotes in Duval County.

M: I remember that, but we didn't have a problem here with that.

P: How many overvotes did you have?

M: We had 191 overvotes and 16 under-votes, which was a total of 207. We had 51
absentee votes in the presidential races and we had 44 overvotes and 7
undervotes.









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P: In your absentee ballots, you had 712 and out of those there were 44 overvotes
and 7 undervotes. Is that a large number of absentee ballots for you?

M: That's not unusual, no.

P: Is it increasing every year?

M: Actually we've had about the same amount. It's increased a little bit, the reason
being is because it's so easy to vote absentee. When we first started voting
absentees, we had to mark reasons as to why we were voting. You don't mark
reasons now. You only have to have one witness now, and at one time you had
to have two witnesses or either have your absentee notarized. It's awfully easy
to vote absentee and people take advantage of that sometimes.

P: Isn't that also a possibility for fraud?

M: Yes there is.

P: How do you check to make sure the ballots are in fact authentic?

M: We verify signatures. In our county, we've never had any trouble with fraud. I
think it's actually too easy to vote absentee, but I know the voters. We verify
signatures and that's about the only thing you can do really.

P: In a small county, you would probably know a good portion of the voters.

M: I know probably three-fourths of those people that vote absentee. I know the
witnesses, so we don't have a problem with that.

P: Explain to me a little bit about the overvotes. What kind of overvotes would you
get on paper ballots?

M: If you vote for more than one person, that's an overvote. That's actually about
the only way you get an overvote, is to vote for more than one.

P: Would some people vote for five or six?

M: A lot of times what they do is vote for two. They'd vote like for two people
instead of voting for one and that's the reason we had the overvote.

P: When you have your paper ballot, how do they designate their vote? Is it a
checkmark?









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M: It can be a check, there can be any indication of a vote, a check or an "x", if they
circle a name, that counted. But we didn't have that. The only thing you used to
have on a paper ballot is a "x" mark. Now, if you have a check mark, that's still
counted.

P: All of this is done with a pencil. Or can they use any writing instrument?

M: They can use a pencil or a pen. We usually put pencils in the voting booths.

P: What about undervotes? You had very few of those.

M: An undervote is when they didn't vote at all, is what we considered an undervote.

P: In this case, it's probably they just didn't want to vote. They just couldn't pick.

M: That's exactly right. They didn't want any of them. We had very few of those.

P: When the election got a little bit complicated, one of the issues was the overseas
ballots. Did you have many of those?

M: No, three.

P: I know in some counties that overseas ballots that came in late, sometimes
seven days late, they were still counted.

M: They can be as late as ten days. They're still counted as long as they're mailed
within ten days after that election, they're counted.

P: Do they have to have an APO number on them, do they have to have a
postmark?

M: They have to have a postmark, but we didn't have any returned.

P: Just out of curiosity, how did this county vote in the presidential election?

M: Republican.

P: How strong? 2-1, something like that?

M: George Bush received 2,332 and Al Gore received 1,407.

P: That's pretty strong. Does this county usually vote Republican?

M: Yes we do, we have always voted Republican since I've been in office.









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P: One of the questions that came up during the election, I'd like to get your view on
it, is that the precise rule of law was that some of these overseas ballots were by
law, not acceptable. When the Democrats challenged that, you remember Gore
said, we want to count every vote, the Republicans accused him of being anti-
military and unpatriotic. The Democrats sort of backed off on that and allowed
these military votes to be counted. The Miami Herald indicated that probably
Gore could have gotten another 800 votes and that might have made the
difference in the election. Do you think that's a problem in terms of being precise
in enforcing the law?

M: I think the law needs to be enforced. I think if it says ten days, anything after ten
days shouldn't be counted. We wouldn't have counted them here. The law says,
if they're over ten days late, then they aren't counted. I follow the law.

P: One of the questions that probably doesn't apply to you, was there any political
pressure at all put on you by anybody?

M: No.

P: When you recounted, did you have Democrats and Republicans observing?

M: Yes, I did.

P: Were they reserved and polite?

M: Yes.

P: So there was no intimidation or anything? It was not like what happened in Dade
County.

M: No. I've never had a problem in the county as far as people being intimidating.

P: Talk a little bit about your canvassing board. Who is on the board and how do
they operate?

M: Our canvassing board consists of the county judge, who is chairman of the
board, our chairman of county commissioners, and myself. Then as far as
counters, I actually appoint people to count so we can get through quicker. I
usually have anywhere from fourteen to sixteen counters. But this time, the
judge had opposition, so there was another person appointed by the circuit judge
to serve in his stead.


P: What was the political affiliation of the three who finally served?









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Page 8

M: Democrats, all three Democrat.

P: Do you think that there has been some discussion that any time you have a
political figure, it's the same sort of situation, at least it gives the appearance of
some sort of partisan vote-counting, as happened with Palm Beach and other
places where the Democrats were in the majority, the Republicans said we can't
trust these people because they are elected officials who are Democrats and
they won't give us a fair count.

M: Of course, you have your judge who is non-partisan. He's a registered
Democrat, but, of course, his office is non-partisan. We've never had any
criticism about that in our county.

P: Do you think the whole group ought to be appointed? Should elections
supervisors continue to be elected?

M: I think they should be elected.

P: Rather than appointed.

M: Yes.

P: Another question that comes up, you were quoted in the Miami Herald as saying
this was one of the most confusing ballots that you'd ever had. What can be
done to simplify the ballot? Because there is clearly, in some places, confusion.
How can you make the ballot easier for voters?

M: I think maybe the ballot could be simpler if you didn't have as many races. Then
you have so many referendums on your general election too, that causes
confusion on the ballot.

P: One of the problems that all elections supervisors arguably have is getting poll
workers and training poll workers. How difficult is that for you?

M: I haven't had any trouble getting poll workers in the past. I'm beginning to have
trouble since we're going on machines. A lot of my poll workers are older and
they're kind of intimidated by having machines. In the past, I haven't really had a
lot of problems getting poll workers.

P: What do you pay them?

M: I pay them $6.00 and $6.50 an hour.


P: How much training do you give them?









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Page 9

M: They're usually trained for about three hours. We usually have what we call a
poll worker's dinner. We have the training at the same time, it's all in one night,
anywhere from two to three hours.

P: What is going to be your new equipment now?

M: We're going to be on optical scan. We're required by law to train them for three
hours.

P: Who's going to pay for the new machines?

M: The state paid for them.

P: So that was part of the allocation from the Election Reform Act of 2001?

M: That's right.

P: Do you think that's the way to go?

M: I sure do.

P: One problem is that even with optical scan, there are going to be different kinds
of machines. Some people are going to go to the touch screen.

M: That's right. A lot of your big counties and some of your middle-sized counties
are going to the touch screen.

P: Don't you think it would be better if we had the uniform equipment all the way
across the state?

M: I guess it depends on what the preference of the county is. In your larger
counties, I guess if they want the touch screen that's fine. I don't have any
problem with them having different type machines.

P: Would you want the touch screen?

M: No.

P: Why not?

M: It's too expensive, number one and more complicated than optical scan. That's
the main reason. Now we are going to have one in the office.


P: A touch screen.









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Page 10

M: Yes.

P: Now, when you bring voters to the polls, I know that some counties when they
sign in they have to fill in the bubble, so that they'll learn how to use the machine
better so they won't make so many mistakes. What kind of education do you
have for the public prior to the vote?

M: We actually haven't colored in a bubble. They come in and if they have a
problem, one of the poll workers shows them exactly what to do. We voted on
paper ballot for many, many years.

P: So that's not an issue for you, but it certainly will be next time.

M: That's right. So we will have someone there to show them exactly what they
need to do when they come in.

P: There has been some discussion around the state that there was discrimination
against African-Americans, that there was a highway patrol stop in Leon County.
In other cases, the machines were outdated in the poor black communities. Did
you see any examples of discrimination in Union County?

M: No.

P: Do you have any idea what percentage of African-Americans would have voted
in this county?

M: Probably 8 to 10 percent.

P: Is that pretty standard?

M: Yes.

P: Throughout the state, the number of African-American voters was up
significantly, particularly in the major cities. You didn't see any kind of trend in
that direction in Union County?

M: No.

P: What is the supervisor's response to the fact that they got a lot of the blame for
the quote, "foul-ups" in the election, that Katherine Harris and Clay Roberts didn't
take any responsibility. They said, well the problem is with the elections
supervisors. Did you think that was a fair charge?


M: No I didn't.









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P: One person said, the voting system is not broken, it's the people who run the
system.

M: I wonder why they said that.

P: They're probably looking for a scapegoat.

M: That's exactly right.

P: How would you assess the performance of Katherine Harris, Secretary of State,
during all this? Do you think she acted in an unbiased manner?

M: Yes, I do.

P: Were you at all disturbed, for example, when the court allowed her to certify the
ballots either on Monday, or if she were open on Sunday at 5:00 p.m. She
opened on Sunday afternoon and they'd never been open on Sunday afternoon
before. Did that strike you as somewhat partisan?

M: No.

P: The Democrats would argue that every decision she made went in favor of
George Bush.

M: I felt that she was fair. I feel that Katherine Harris did a good job.

P: Do you think it was a mistake for her to be publicly on a campaign committee for
George W. Bush?

M: Yes I do.

P: Should all of those offices again be non-partisan?

M: Yes.

P: How would you assess the performance of the governor, Jeb Bush?

M: I think he did a fair job. I feel like that he was not partisan.

P: Obviously, he had some interest, the Republican Presidential Nominee was his
brother. I asked a couple of Democratic lawyers and I said, do you think that if a
Democrat had been Secretary of State and a Democrat had been governor, they
would have acted the same way, and they said they thought they would.









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M: I do too.

P: Politicians are politicians and they're either going to be absolutely strict or they're
going to act in the interest of their own party, that's almost inevitable. What was
your reaction to some of the visits of national leaders coming down into Florida?
Bob Dole, Jesse Jackson, senators and governors poured into Florida. What
was the impact of that sort of thing?

M: I guess that Jesse Jackson probably had an impact to a certain extent. I actually
don't feel like we needed those people in Florida.

P: Who do you think won the public relations battle between the Democrats and
Republicans? I know that the Republicans called Gore a sore loser and said the
votes have already been counted. Then, of course, the Democrats are saying
that we have to count every vote.

M: I actually feel like George Bush won. I felt like when the votes were counted that
actually it was a true indication that George Bush won the election.

P: Had there been a statewide recount of over and undervotes, every vote, you
think Bush still would have won?

M: Yes, I do.

P: The Miami Herald did a study. Did they come by and look at your ballots as well?

M: Yes.

P: How did you react to that? Were you in any way offended by that? Or were you
supportive?

M: No, I wasn't offended. I had several calls from the Miami Herald and I also had a
reporter that came from the Miami Herald and looked at our overvotes and our
undervotes. No I wasn't offended.

P: You think they did a professional job in doing a recount?

M: I thought they did fine here.

P: One of the things that has come up as well after this election, there's been some
talk about there ought to be a statewide voter guide put out by the state, sent to
every voter in the state.


M: That wouldn't be a bad idea.









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P: Who would do that and who would pay for that?

M: The state should do that.

P: The Secretary of State's office would be responsible?

M: That's right.

P: Did you have any problems with fraudulent voting, i.e., people who were not
eligible to vote who ended up voting anyway?

M: Not in this county.

P: What is your view on the list of felons that was sent around to all the elections
supervisors?

M: That we got from FDLE? We had names on there that were unreal. I haven't
really done a whole lot about it because I knew some of those people were not
felons.

P: So basically you just ignored it.

M: I didn't really ignore it, I just haven't done a whole lot about it because I need to
get further information before I do anything. I am not going to write to a person
and tell them that I'm going to take them off the roll when I know for a fact, they
haven't committed a felony. We had our youth minister at our church, that was
one of those. Then there was one of the ones on there that I knew for a fact that
had never committed a felony. I didn't really ignore the list, but I'm not going to
do anything about it until I get further information.

P: There were a lot of mistakes.

M: Yes, there was.

P: In one county, I think Madison County, the election supervisor was on it.

M: As a felon. That's what I was going to say.

P: What can be done about this?

M: I don't know what they're going to do about it. One thing we need to do in our
county that we don't do as often as our clerk of court needs to give us a list of
felons. And it's not through being careless, I think sometimes, it's just something
that's easy, maybe easy to overlook. We certainly need to know who the felons









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are, where we can take them off the voters' roll. As far as getting a list like we
got from FDLE, no I don't think that it was a help to us at all.

P: Should felons be allowed to vote?

M: No, they shouldn't.

P: Even after they served their time?

M: If they've had their civil rights restored, that's fine. But until that time, no they
shouldn't vote.

P: Should it be easier in Florida, as you know it's very difficult to get your rights
back?

M: I think once they've served their time, they should be given their civil rights back.
It is difficult to get civil rights. I know a lot of times, I've filled out the paperwork to
try to help them get their civil rights and it does take awhile to get them.

P: One reason I ask is because there's a Lake Butler correctional facility here, so
you get a lot of people who both work in the prison system and who are products
of the prison system.

M: I know in one instance that we had a person that had been out of prison probably
fifteen years that didn't get her civil rights back simply because she didn't know
how to do the paperwork. I helped her get those back after she came in. She
was a person that worked for my family. She had been out of prison about fifteen
years. She couldn't read and she was embarrassed to ask anybody to help her
get her civil rights. It should be easier to get their civil rights back.

P: How did the Motor Voter Bill work in this county?

M: It doesn't really affect us that much.

P: There were some complaints around the state that people who had signed up in
motor vehicles centers, the information had never gotten back to the election
supervisors.

M: We had some of that happen here, but very little of it. We have that office right
here in the courthouse.

P: Another issue we talked about with elections supervisors, where do you draw the
line between the responsibility of the election supervisors to educate and provide
a simple ballot, and the responsibility of the voter to go and vote correctly. There









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Page 15

were a lot of votes that were spoiled, some people argue, if you can't figure out
not to vote for all ten presidential candidates, you shouldn't be allowed to vote.

M: They can spoil as many as three ballots. I think that the poll worker should assist
the person and help them, especially if they can't read or if they have a problem
with the ballot. I think a lot of times that the poll worker can help with that. The
voter should take some responsibility too.

P: How much responsibility if there's an issue like this butterfly ballot. As you know
there was actually a lawsuit stating this ballot was so confusing that it
disenfranchised voters.

M: I think some of that was the voter's fault. They've got to be able to assume some
responsibility as far as voting. I think the poll worker should be able to assist the
voter, but then the voter should assume some of the responsibility.

P: Do you do much voter education in the schools around here at all?

M: We usually go out and get students registered to vote. We don't do a lot of voter
education in the schools, no. Now we probably will once we go on machines.

P: I want to quote to you lan Sancho, I know you know who he is. He is the
Supervisor of Elections in Leon County. He said that in his view, the elections
supervisors did not do a good job. There were errors in ballot design, errors in
instructions, and errors in canvassing board standards. Of course, Broward
County, Palm Beach County, all of those had different standards and even
changed their standards while they were counting. Do you think that's a fair
assessment?

M: No I don't.

P: In your case, it's obviously an easier process for you. You didn't have ballot
design problems. I think it was in Duval County, the ballot that appeared in the
paper was not the same as the actual ballot that was in the voting precincts, so
that might cause a problem. You do send a copy of the ballot to all the registered
voters?

M: No, I don't. I plan to in the future. I haven't in the past because we didn't have
the money to send a ballot. But we're going to do that. We've asked for extra
money in our budget. We will be sending a ballot out to the registered voters.

P: Is it put in the newspaper?


M: Yes, you're required by law to do that.









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P: Is that the local paper? That comes out twice a week?

M: It comes out once a week.

P: What about the reforms, the Election Reform Bill of 2001? The change of
machines we've already talked about but another element is the use of a
provisional ballot. How do you feel about that?

M: I don't know a lot about the provisional ballot. Actually, I don't see where there's
going to be a lot of difference in that and filling out an affidavit at the polls. I just
don't know a lot about the provisional ballot.

P: What do you do if someone appears at your polling place who is not registered at
that polling place but claims they are in fact registered to vote?

M: The poll workers have been told, we have telephones at every polling place, to
never refuse to let a person vote until they call the office. We check the books
and if they're not on the book, then they don't get to vote. Sometimes when that
happens, they go to the wrong polling place. They could be registered at another
polling place. So they're always given the advantage to vote if they're registered
voters, but if they're not registered voters than they can't vote.

P: Essentially what you try to do, as much as possible, is to let them vote as
opposed to saying they can't vote.

M: That's right. The poll workers have always been told, they never tell a person
they can't vote. They always get in touch with the office and that way, if they're
registered they do get to vote.

P: You didn't have the problems that Pam lorio would have had in Hillsborough,
where there were so many phone calls, they couldn't get through.

M: We have three lines here and we don't have problems getting through to the
polls.

P: Would it be helpful, not so much for you, but for statewide, if there were a
statewide voter's registration on a computer so that you wouldn't have to worry
about phone calls?

M: That's right. In our county it wouldn't make much difference, but it would in your
larger counties.

P: When the Florida Supreme Court, by a 4-3 vote ordered a recount, what was
your response to that?









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M: I didn't mind recounting.

P: So you recounted a second time. Were there any differences in the counts?

M: Very few. I think there may have been two or three votes difference. It was not
enough really to affect the election.

P: So you counted and you were one of the few counties that completed your count
before the United States Supreme Court ended the count.

M: That's right.

P: Give me your reaction first to the Florida Supreme Court decision. Did you think
that was a correct decision to continue the recount?

M: As far as asking to do the second recount, I wasn't opposed to that. When an
election is that close, I think it's only fair that you recount, whether you're a
Democrat or a Republican. If it had been that close between the Republican and
a Democrat, they would have wanted a recount.

P: So you think if the roles had been reversed they would have wanted a recount.

M: That's exactly right. I think there should have been a recount. When an
elections that close, when a county the size of ours could have made a difference
in the election, I sure do think there should have been a recount.

P: If Bush had been behind, they'd want to count every vote.

M: That's exactly right. I mean irregardless of who was ahead, I feel like it was only
fair that we recount. I didn't mind doing that and if it happens again, we'll recount
again.

P: What was your reaction to the United States Supreme Court 5-4 decision that in
effect, ended the election in favor of George Bush?

M: I feel George Bush actually won. I think it's only fair we had the recount, but
once he won I really didn't understand why people kept persisting that other
things be done. I felt like he clearly won in Florida.

P: One issue that came up in Seminole and Martin Counties, that Sandra Gourd
and Peggy Robbins allowed the Republicans to come in and put voter ID's on
these absentee ballots. Do you think that was a correct decision on their part?


M: I'm not sure what they allowed. What did they actually allow?









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P: In Seminole County, Sandra Gourd allowed Republicans to come in and actually
put the voter ID number. The Republicans had not told those people sending in
absentee ballots to do that. In Martin County, Peggy Robbins allowed them to
actually take those absentee ballots out of the office and put in the ID numbers.
The argument was that that was favoritism toward the Republicans.

M: I don't think that by being allowed to put an ID number on there would have been
a favor. As far as favoritism, I feel like that was favoritism towards Republicans.
I'm not sure I would have done the same thing. I wasn't approached about that.
Knowing those two people, I don't feel like they would do anything that would
jeopardize the election.

P: The court ruled that those votes should be counted. One elections expert said
they had no problem with the assistance, letting the Republicans to put in the ID
but when they took the ballots out of the office, they thought it was a violation of
public records law. Would you allow those ballots out of this office?

M: No. But there again, knowing Peggy and knowing Sandra, I know them well
enough to know they wouldn't do anything to jeopardize their job or show
favoritism. I don't think either one of them would show favoritism. I don't even
know what party they're registered.

P: How has this experience changed your attitude toward your job?

M: I like my job. If we had an election like we did in 2000, every election, I'm not
saying that I would ever plan to run again. I think when you have that much
pressure at a job, it causes problems. There was a lot of stress in the election. It
didn't affect me like it certainly affected some of the other supervisors because I
didn't have many problems. I wasn't faced with a lawsuit. I'm just glad I wasn't
in Palm Beach County. I don't know how Theresa LePore survived, I don't really
know how she handled the situation.

P: Apparently she really has not recovered yet. The trauma of it is still with her.

M: I saw her at the last meeting. I think she's doing better. I can't imagine being in
her job down there.

P: One of the benefits that people talk about from the election, is that now the public
knows what you do and they know more about the election process than they
ever did before. Do you think that's going to lead to increased voting?

M: I hope so.


P: But not likely?









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M: I really don't know. Not likely, no.

P: How can we improve the percentage of voters? If we look at the population, and
then look at the registered voters, and then look at the percentage of registered
voters who votes, it's a very small percentage of our entire population. Why can't
we get people more willing to vote?

M: I don't know what the answer is to that. We always vote high in this county. In
this county, we've always voted high. But we still have people that aren't
interested in getting registered to vote and I don't know what the answer is really.

P: Oregon decided to do it by mail, do you think that would work?

M: No.

P: What's wrong with that system?

M: You mean voting by mail? If they're not interested enough to come to the polls, I
doubt seriously they'll vote by mail.

P: Would it help, and this is not again in your county because it would be expensive,
in some of the most populous counties to have televisions in the polling places
demonstrating how to vote? How else can we somehow persuade people to
vote? Education is the answer.

M: Maybe education is the answer. I don't know.

P: Were there any special circumstances or incidents that were either amusing or
important during this election you could share with us?

M: I don't really remember anything that happened here. We didn't actually have a
lot of different things to happen in the county. The only thing we did have
happen is that we've never had the media to come in and talk to us or to call us.
The media was never interested in this county up until this past election. We had
calls from all over the United States.

P: I'm sure. Probably all over the world.

M: We sure did. We had calls as far away as Canada. Partially because we're on
paper ballot and we hand count.

P: Do you think that the new system that you will have, I guess, in place by 2002,
will that be less accurate than the paper ballot?









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M: No, I think actually it's probably going to be fine. The optical scan, is probably
more like the paper ballot than anything else we could use.

P: Is it going to be precinct based?

M: Yes.

P: So if they overvote, the machine will catch it and give them a chance to vote
again, which should solve at least some of the problems. When you look back at
this election, what impact do you think this election as a whole had on this
country?

M: I don't know to what extent what the impact really was. It certainly made us
realize how important one vote is. I doubt we ever have another election like the
one we had. Probably here in Florida people will be more aware of what's going
on than they would have been before. The impact sure made all the states more
voter aware and made everyone realize how close an election could be.

P: You think all these Florida jokes were unfair?

M: I think it could have happened anywhere.

P: Well, Georgia, for example, had a higher percentage of overvotes and
undervotes than Florida did.

M: That's right. I think it could have happened anywhere really. I think it was the
fact that it was just so close here in Florida is what caused us to have so much
news coverage.

P: And then it went on thirty-six days. I think it's pretty clear that in this state,
interestingly enough, there was not, as far as I know, there was not any major
amounts of voter fraud, whereas in Chicago and Louisiana and other places,
that's fairly common. When you hear about this election, you tend to hear about
Floridians can't vote, but not having any fraud and this was examined so carefully
I think if there had been fraud it would have been uncovered.

M: It would have shown up, that's right.

P: Okay, is there anything else that you would like to comment on or mention about
this election?

M: No.

P: Well I want to thank you very much for your time. I appreciate it.









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[End of the interview.]




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