St. Lucie County Supervisor of Elections Gertrude Walker told state lawmakers Monday that private voting equipment companies should be held more responsible for their role in election mishaps. Speaking to the Senate Committee on Ethics and Elections, Walker said many of the vote-counting issues experienced during St. Lucie’s election wouldn’t have occurred if the right memory cards were made available. “I believe, as (Palm Beach County Supervisor of Elections) Susan Bucher stated earlier, that voting equipment companies should be held accountable for the work that they do in this state, if they are certified vendors,” Walker said. Bucher’s Palm Beach County office had its share of vendor troubles. Workers had to recopy more than 30,000 ballots after a vendor misprinted the ballot.
Walker was one of nine supervisors who spoke under oath at the five-and-a-half-hour meeting in Tallahassee. Some supervisors addressed inadequacies from the 2012 cycle, while others shared best practices. Martin County Supervisor of Elections Vicki Davis was selected to speak about her office’s successes, but couldn’t make it because of the birth of her grandchild.
The testimony mostly focused on the ballot’s wordy constitutional amendments and the election’s long voting lines. Most supervisors, including Walker, favored having the option to offer up to 14 early voting days — the number of days available before a 2011 elections law rewrite. They also preferred capping amendments put on the ballot by the Legislature at 75 words — the same limit on citizen-led ballot initiatives.
But lawmakers had few specific questions to ask of Walker, whose office was the only one statewide to miss the deadline to report accurate results. None of the Senate committee members represent St. Lucie County.