To the editor:
Unfortunately, I wasn't at the GPICA meeting as I didn't know about it. And so I had only the report of it published in the Pine Island Eagle. But I certainly had thought about the issues you raise.
Taking your points one by one-
Let me jump to #8 immediately because this is the easiest of your "excuses" to rebut. You claim that your workers care so deeply about the election process-having, I'm sure, been trained by you. Well, I wasn't talking to a temporary poll worker, but a woman on your staff! Indeed, I made the comments to three of your office workers at the end of voting when I attempted to bring them up short about who it was, they were supposed to be serving. They didn't enjoy my message. As one might expect, they all got "huffy" and told me to be quieter. I never made any inappropriate remarks to the poll workers themselves, but observers do have the right to ask them questions, which I did from time to time. Your clerks, however, certainly weren't shedding any tears when I continued to remind them that the lines were ridiculously long. Of course, it couldn't have been their fault
#1-My charge of "pure bunkum" still applies as far as I'm concerned. Spin doesn't require anyone to lie-in this day and age. You just fail to mention the uncomfortable facts, and recount the litany of things beyond your control. In the end, you hope that your efforts (which may have been stupendous) and the results (clearly miserable) look completely understandable and blameless.
#2 - You state that you couldn't use other sites to vote and then immediately say that "well, yes, I guess we could have used some better places." Which is it? You could or you couldn't? I would say that you could but didn't. "Why" is another matter, but you can't have it both ways. As I mention later and in the previous letter, saving tax dollars is not the object of your office-getting an accurate and reasonably convenient vote is the objective.
#3-Having sufficient scanners is certainly crucial to this whole discussion. Your claim is that early voting and regular voting scanners had to be programmed separately and thus couldn't be used inter-changeably. I'd like to hear some particulars about how long this so-called reprogramming takes. I would be surprised if this was the problem you make it out to be. Computer programs can generally be changed in minutes. Your comment that, "luckily, we didn't have to use the extra five machines." is a perfect example of your misunderstanding priorities. Not using resources is not your task. What?! Luckily? Since when is it lucky that you didn't use all the machines at your disposal to get an accurate result? I'll bet no voter commented after waiting three or more hours to vote-"It sure is great that Ms. Harrington saved me all that tax money."
#4-What do you mean "out of 125 precincts only 30 closed after 10 p.m.?" Only 30?! This amounts to 25 percent of the precincts! And what about those that closed at 9 p.m. etc.? And how many closed at 11 p.m.? But the real disaster is that these later closings unambiguously point to a large under vote! People who would have voted but could no longer wait while your office dithered. How many left without voting? It could have been determined by a simple post election poll of voters by your office. How long had they waited? Had they returned to vote after a previous but unsuccessful attempt? What was the total time they spent in line on multiple attempts. We will never know-how convenient. I assert it had to be in the thousands. But as you agree, there was nothing you could do at the time, how about engaging someone in your office that actually had the skills and foresight to anticipate such problems. If you can't see them now, why should we expect to see solutions in the next election.
#5-It may have pained you to be lumped in with cross burning and poll taxes but you must suck it up. How else is one to judge 2013's fiasco, in the face of decades of mal and misfeasance in Florida voting. Florida was a laughing stock to the rest of the nation before and Lee County continues to confirm it. Oh well, we're supposed to say, they really didn't mean to screw up.
#7-Remember the old adage "The buck stops here!" Unfortunately, you are in the hot seat by your own choices. I never said that you did these things intentionally, although I left the possibility open. The voters must decide.
Regarding your last point about caring about your staff and their long years of service-I commend them-I too was a civil servant. Too many today ignorantly disparage us as a class. So as I said in my first letter, it pains me too that I continue to raise these questions. But I repeat - at least a few of your staff are a bit "confused" about whose choices mattered last November-you and your staff's choices, or those of the voting public? Unfortunately, the stakes involved in democratic elections are too high to let you and your staff off the hook.
The short and long of it is that, at this point I have seen no evidence of a plan from your office, that will make sure this does not happen again. We hear plenty of reasons why the election failed to deliver an accurate result (all others' doings of course) but nothing-in my view - reassuring about future elections. Nor does the state legislature seem all that concerned.