8 supervisors of elections from west central Florida gathered today at The Hillsborough county elections office, to announce their participation in a state wide “get out the vote� initiative, designed to get more Floridians to vote, and improve the states image as incapable of holding a fair and efficient election.

SOUND “Demonstration ballot, Pasco County..number of candidates….so it tells you the candidates, George Washington, john Adams, Thomas Jefferson…I want George Washington..checked..�

Several voting machines were on display, including this touch screen machine from Pasco County, which can talk to voters who are blind or have vision problems. Kathy Dent is the supervisor of elections in Sarasota county, says she and other supervisors have been energized by the 3-point-2 million dollars allocated by Secretary of state Glenda Hood to help inform voters about the voting process, which has changed a lot since the disastrous 2000 election.

ACT “I think one of the most important things we learned in 2000, is the fact that voter education is the most important thing…letting the voters know how to vote, how to register……for the first time, counties are receiving some money for education…its still not enough but its more than we’ve ever had before.�

Counties will split three (m) million dollars in federal money from the 2002 Help America Vote Act for voter education. Another 200-thousand dollars is coming from the state's association of election supervisors' Get Out the Vote Foundation, and will allow counties to target specific populations. Each county will be devising their own plan to register and educate voters; many of them said they are doing outreach at community events, large employers, schools, hiring Hispanic outreach coordinators, and asking for help from the media.. Dean Collins, elections supervisor in Hardee County talked about the challenges of registering voters in a county with a small population and not much money budgeted for outreach.

ACT ‘I tell my employees if you drive down the road and see 10 or 12 cars, that’s a good place for voter outreach…�…

Besides just registering voters, the campaign will have to answer a lot of questions about the efficiency of new electronic machines to count votes accurately. Congressman Robert Wexler’s lawsuit to try and force the state to require paper receipts for all votes conducted busing touch screen machines was thrown out this week by a federal judge. WMNF asked the supervisors about the issue of paper receipts. Buddy Johnson, the Hillsborough county supervisor who organized the showcase, said he thinks a paper receipt is unnecessary.

ACT--Johnson “We are very confident of our systems…we are open to the idea of whatever improves our systems..�

Kurt browning, Pasco county supervisor is also the legislative chair of the supervisors Statewide.

ACT “The supervisors have taken a position that they aren’t necessary…its going to be decided by the legislature..is they do it, we see a whole host of other issues� Kathy dent, Sarasota county supervisor, said the decision to move to choose paper receipts is not in their hands..

ACT “I think many of us are waiting for the federal elections standards we are waiting, so are the vendors…it wont happen in 2004.we hear about California, lots of states have rejected the idea…�

Of the 8 counties present, 4 use touch screen machines, and 4 use optical scan machines, which are produced by the Diebold company. Diebold has had their machines banned in California, and their CEO has been quoted as saying he will “deliver the election to President Bush�, but Annie Williams, Hernando county’s supervisor of elections, says she still feels confident using Diebold machines.

ACT—Hernando “California has used Diebold…I feel very good about the Diebold system we did not have any problems with security …so where is the controversy has been coming from? special interest groups…�

Jim Entrus works with the Pasco county department of elections.

ACT “Diebold did not make certification in that state, for optical, yes, think that can be trusted, I don’t know. I guess so.�

ACT “I am fully confident in these touch screens, you cant hack em.�

The other major issue facing elections officials is the purging of convicted felons from the voting rolls; Florida is one of only 7 states that do not automatically return the right to vote to someone after they get out of prison. In 2000 thousands of people were denied the right to vote because of faulty lists sent out by the state. Several supervisors also spoke with suspicion about a list sent out by the state last week, which gives the names of felons that should be made ineligible to vote. Deborah Clark from Pinellas County was the first to express her concerns.

ACT— “A lot of the supervisors are very skeptical….� ACT-Pinellas “Once we decide how to proceed, we will have an ACLU and NAACP help us.�

ACT “As far as Hernando County�

ACT--Sarasota “I believe we can say that no one will be removed from any list unless we are satisfied…many counties did not use that list, Sarasota did not and will not.�

SOUND “End Of ballot. To cast your ballot, press the diamond botton..You have selected to cast your ballot.�

There will be 4 statewide themed voter registration weeks. Register at work week, from June 21-25. Register at your House of worship weekend, from July 10-11, Register at school week, Sept 13 to 17, and Register at work week number 2, from September 20th to 24th.

For more information go to www.getoutthevoteflorida.org

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