With all of the chatter about rigged elections and Russian hackers, Hillsborough County Commission Chair Les Miller said Wednesday he thought it would be a good idea to invite county elections supervisor Craig Latimer to the dais to explain how nobody's stealing any election.
So Latimer gave a 13-or-so-minute presentation to the board on all the ways in which it is not possible to rig or steal the election, let alone commit voter fraud.
“There's a tremendous amount of checks and balances that go into this,” he said. “I take the integrity of this election very seriously, and I want to assure you of that.”
In recent days, Republican Presidential nominee Donald Trump has told his supporters that the only way he won't win on Nov. 8, is if the election were somehow "rigged" by some entity manipulating the results — probably Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton, despite many polls showing her ahead.
Latimer said that that such a scenario is essentially impossible, given how election equipment is set up and how transparent the vote-counting process is.
He said all of Florida's 67 counties conduct random samples of their voting machines. In Hillsborough, that equipment that will be deployed to 14 sites countywide for early voting as well as 280 voting sites representing 340 precincts on Election Day. He said that equipment is on lockdown in his office until early voting and/or Election Day. And when it is deployed, it will be set up in large, open rooms where there's “plenty of visibility,” and not “able to be tampered with in any fashion."
After the election, his office's canvassing board will then randomly select a race and precincts and staff will hand count those ballots to ensure the accuracy of the machine count.
And the machines, by the way, are not connected to the internet. And neither is another key piece of equipment.
"The server that houses the election software is not connected to the internet," he said. "Let me repeat that. My server that houses all of our election management software is not connected to the internet or my intranet. By law, it is a standalone server. It's under 24-7 video surveillance.”
There will also be two copies of the results for each polling place, he said, one sent to his office and one that is literally posted on the front door of said polling place.
Trump has said Clinton's crew may have other tricks up its sleeve on Nov. 8, namely voter fraud. Trump surrogate Rudy Giuliani told Trump supporters that "dead people" tend to vote for Democrats.
Latimer said there are multiple safeguards against voter fraud, including "dead" people voting.
Commissioner Sandy Murman said a recently widowed constituent told her she received a ballot for her deceased husband.
Latimer told her that while some voters slip through the cracks, the state Division of Elections nightly checks its voter rolls against death records — and newly listed felons.
“I can tell you that the Division of Elections nightly scrubs its voter rolls against the Department of Health's deceased files as well as the Florida Department of Law Enforcement for people that have been adjudicated guilty of felonies," Latimer said.
And even if someone were to get ahold of the ballot of a deceased person, Latimer said, that person would have to replicate the dead voter's signature, and if it's not an exact match or there's no signature, that ballot is not counted.
“That voter would have had to sign that ballot and the signature on that ballot would have had to match the signature that we have on file to be accepted," he said. "Or that voter would have had to come in with a photo signature identification and present themselves.”
Despite Latimer's assurances that the process is safe and transparent, it's likely many skeptics won't buy that the process is safe and not "rigged." Latimer is one of 67 elections supervisors in the state, and each county elects theirs. Latimer happens to be a Democrat, but many other counties have elected Republicans to oversee their elections.
After Latimer's presentation, Commissioner Kevin Beckner, a Democrat, poked fun at one of the more outlandish rigged-election theories, that Russian hackers will manipulate polling place data.
“I looked at your last name, I did some research, and it doesn't look like there's any Russian connection to your name, either,” he said, which Latimer confirmed.