Leon Elections Supervisor Mark Earley Has Advice On Improving Florida Elections

Nov 19, 2018

County commissioner Nick Maddox (l), Leon County Judge Lane Smith (c) and Supervisor of Elections Mark Earley (r) make up the county canvassing board and are evaluating questionable ballots.
Credit LHatter / WFSU News

Florida lawmakers will take up election changes in the upcoming session following a contentious 2018 cycle, and Leon County Supervisor of Elections Mark Earley has some suggestions for avoiding many of the problems and pitfalls that popped up.

Leon Supervisor of Elections Mark Earley says the Florida legislature should consider extending the timeframe to count and certify votes, and the media should wait a bit longer before declaring winners.

"Extend the deadlines so we can get our work done," he says. " Change the language requirements so you’re allowed to have single-language ballots but different versions…and use something like our audit process for audits and recounts because…if our audit process was used for recounts we could have done what took five days in Leon in a matter of hours easily.” 

Earley wants other Florida counties to adopt a backup auditing software he says can make those recounts go faster and ensure results are accurate.

“We do it every day of the election--early voting and vote by mail process-- to make sure we haven’t lost ballots and make sure poll workers aren’t giving out the wrong ballot style. And we can correct those problems as soon as we see them and that way they don’t propagate through the whole election.”

In Broward County, some 2,000 were misplaced. Palm Beach’s antiquated systems could only recount one race at a time, slowing down the process significantly. Early says Leon’s system could eliminate those issues, and he plans to pitch it to state lawmakers when the legislature reconvenes next year.  

The post-2018 election forecast features even tighter races and more recounts as the political divide in America deepens. Incoming Senate President Bill Galvano says he plans to look at election changes when lawmakers meet in March.