Hillsborough County Commissioners unsure about new Voting Bill

05/16/07 Mitch E. Perry
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Any day now, Governor Charlie Crist is poised to sign legislation mandating that all 15 counties in Florida get rid of touch screen voting machines.


There has been some grumbling about that from some local Supervisors of Election – who now are stuck with relatively new electronic machines that they now have to get rid of .


Hillsborough Supervisor of Elections Buddy Johnson has been pretty lowkey about the move.  But today, he was compelled to address the Hillsborough County Commission after Commissioner Brian Blair said he wanted the Board to send a letter to Governor Crist to veto the bill. (roll tape#1 o.q.”    when we don’t have a problem”)


Commissioner Mark Sharpe said he was hoping the County could simply purchase printers to the current electronic machines – although that is not what the legislation awaiting Governor Crist’s signature calls for (roll tape#2 o.q.”something to that effect?”)   


But Commissioner Rose Ferlita said she couldn’t sign her name on such a letter to the Governor (roll tape#3 o.q.”and not collectively”)


But Commission Chairman Jim Norman told Blair he was dreaming if he thought a letter from the Board was going to influence the Governor (roll tape#4 o.q.”hold any water”)


Later in the day, Hillsborough Supervisor of elections Buddy Johnson addressed the Commission.  He said that he has already joined 11 other Supervisors of Elections in writing to the Governor that with new costs that going to a paper trial will ensue, that the state wait to implement the changes until 2010 .  But he wouldn’t go as far as Commissioner Blair  in expressing criticism of it (roll tape#5 o.q.” on how this is going to impact the county”)


Commissioner Blair seemed stunned that Johnson would not endorse his motion to write to Governor Crist urging a veto, and he lashed out at the Supervisor of Elections (roll tape#6 o.q. “  stand up guy” ”)


Johnson immediately countered back to Blair that he was a stand up guy, but that he wouldn’t presume to tell the County what bills to write to the Governor about to tell him to veto them.  


County Commissioner Mark Sharpe said he was confused, because the state legislature will soon be passing property tax relief that will come at the expense of the County, yet the paper trail legislation is another example of an unfunded mandate (roll tape#7 o.q.”and so”)  In the end, the Commissioners agreed to write a letter to the Governor asking for more information and how the County might reduce their expenses in making the transition to a paper trail. 

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