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Hillsborough doesn’t need a ‘Buddy’

Speculations about Buddy Johnson have reached a crescendo. As supervisor of elections for Hillsborough County, he has become an embarrassment to the Republican Party.

Since taking office on January 2003, controversy has been ever-present. Johnson has charted his own course and exceeded the expectations of few. I see no the beneficial aspects to his time as a public servant, and it seems I’m part of the majority. The end is not in question. The debate over the means to that end rages on throughout the county.

While Johnson has proved competent in some aspects, his office has encountered scrutiny in the public and private sectors. According to the St. Petersburg Times in 2004, Johnson said the Korean Methodist Church was an unwilling participant as a polling site and moved the site. Church officials denied it and Johnson admitted that at a minimum he should have notified voters of the polling change.

In an online story by Bay News 9, one respondent said, “I went to vote at that church and was told before exiting my car that there had been a change.” Clearly not the most efficient way to notify voters of change, but Johnson was likely reluctant to use other methods because he has also been criticized for his mailings.

In early October, Johnson mailed out registration forms to 666,800 registered voters. The forms prominently displayed Johnson’s name and photo, the Times reported.

His opponent Phyllis Busansky said he used the exposure to further his own bid for reelection. Busansky called for a criminal investigation to be spearheaded by the FBI and the Governor.

The bottom line is that Johnson should be held responsible for his office.

In September 2004, Johnson’s tabulation machines slowed to a crawl. Johnson ineffectually explained that there was a failure of a “software indexing system.”

According to the Times, in November 2004 Johnson was caught on tape, in his Plant City precinct, cutting the line to vote at the College Hill Library. He made no pretense about his shameful behavior and, true to form, admitted fault.

In March 2007 the Times reported that 2,535 voters in Tampa at precincts 215 and 217 did not receive notification of the relocation of polling places, but Johnson didn’t address the issue at the time.

Johnson has done little to quiet his detractors over nearly six years of service. His track record of incompetence dispels any myth that he is worthy of the office of Supervisor of Elections. He has created the illusion of progress by purchasing costly optical scan voting equipment that provides a paper trial to account for individual voters.

Hopefully he will not be re-elected

Ryan Blaney is a senior majoring in English.