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State Elections Equipment Reliability Called Into Question

State Elections Equipment Reliability Called Into Question

After Secretary of State Ken Detzner called into question some counties’ election equipment, local supervisors are expressing apprehension about the condition of Florida’s electronic voter-registration system.

“We’re concerned that the (state) system could fail, and that’s not just a few counties with poor equipment, that’s the entire state that has to be maintained during an election,” Duval County Supervisor of Elections Jerry Holland said. “If that should fail, we all fail.”

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Holland said the condition of the state’s voter-registration system was raised by members of the Florida State Association of Supervisors of Elections as Detzner appeared at their conference Monday at the Hyatt Regency Grand Cypress in Orlando.

Holland, the president of the association, said any upgrades to county equipment must go “hand and hand” with a modernization of the statewide system.

“Updating one without the other can still cause catastrophic failure,” Holland said.

Holland said the concerns of the supervisors grew after the statewide system went down last week and they weren’t offered any explanation for the outage.

Asked about the supervisors’ concerns and the status of the statewide database, Department of State spokeswoman Brittany Lesser said the system was down for regular maintenance.

“After just completing a successful election, we are planning for future elections by performing upgrades on the Florida Voter Registration System,” Lesser said in an email. “Like any large database, the Florida Voter Registration System requires regular maintenance. The supervisors of elections were made aware of this maintenance, and we look forward to continuing to work with them to ensure Florida’s elections run smoothly.”

The state system was put on line in 2006 providing a central voter-registration system.

On the local level, Detzner expressed concern in November that decade-old voting equipment, particularly tabulators set up at voting precincts, might need to be replaced or upgraded in about 30 counties. He hasn’t specified the counties.

It’s up to local county commissions, some still smarting from a rush to bring in state-of-the-art electronic touch-screen equipment after the state’s controversial 2000 election, to fund the bulk of replacement costs.

Holland said Detzner could push county commissions to act by decertifying aged equipment.

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Jim Turner and Brandon Larrabee / News Service of Florida

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