County officials expect problem-free election

Florida hopes to know who the governor will be by tonight.

But officials in Hillsborough County aren’t worried about any election glitches today, despite South Florida’s recurring election confusion. “Hillsborough County had a successful election in September, and we’re going to build on that success,” said Pam Iorio, supervisor of elections for Hillsborough. “We have good personnel out in the field so we can have a very successful race.”

The Democratic gubernatorial primary election Sept. 10 saw the night pass and the morning dawn without results, as did the 2000 presidential race.

But part of the problem that time was that polling stations in Miami-Dade and Broward counties opened late, and voting machines were not working properly.

Iorio said touch-screen voting systems will be used at all Hillsborough County voting precincts, but she does not expect that to affect the gubernatorial election.

“We retrained all the poll workers again and increased the number of machines at all polling places,” Iorio said.

Results for the Democratic primary weren’t counted in time to determine a winner because touch-screen voting machines weren’t activated until the time polls opened. Some voters were turned away from the polls when precincts first opened because machines were not ready for use, and Gov. Jeb Bush had to order all counties to keep polls open an additional two hours until 9 p.m.

Election supervisors for South Florida counties admitted that the problem occurred because poll workers weren’t properly trained before the election.

There are at least 3,500 poll workers in Hillsborough County. Since September’s primary elections, they have received an additional two-hour training class, Iorio said.

Before the primaries, Iorio said the poll workers attended a 4-hour training class.

And prior to elections, Iorio said maps and sample ballots were sent out to all registered voters, so they could be better prepared.

But, before voters had a chance to line up at voting booths, Iorio said at least 28,000 absentee ballots had been received by Monday. Iorio said the absentee ballots have to be counted by 7 p.m. today because they are a crucial part of the race.

“They are just as important as any other vote,” Iorio said. “(But) it’s not a problem. It has just been a very active race all year.”