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Editorial: Supervisor of Elections continues string of mistakes

Tuesday night was one of the most important nights in this generation’s lives.

Floridians can proudly say that they had a large say in the outcome of such a historical election, particularly since so much was riding on the swing states.

But even given the vital importance of Florida’s voting results, Hillsborough County Supervisor of Elections Buddy Johnson could not rid his county of the polling-site problems that have plagued his term election after election. Sure, Murphy’s Law is bound to come into play during times like these, but the errors are becoming increasingly consistent.

Thanks to yet another “technical glitch,” Hillsborough didn’t have the results for every race until late Wednesday night — including a very close race for Johnson’s own office, which favored him by a mere 2,704 votes.

After further investigation, the St. Petersburg Times reported that Premier Election Solutions, the company that provided the optical ballot scanning machines, had warned its clients that “no more than a few thousand ballots” should be scanned at once, but that Hillsborough County machines were loaded with as many as 10,000 ballots.

Instead of taking blame for human error and lack of training, Johnson blamed Premier.

Given the closeness of the race, it seems an increasing number of Hillsborough voters are sick of Johnson’s error-ridden tenure — and rightfully so.

But Johnson appears to be far from claiming responsibility for his offices’ blunders.

During the 2004 presidential election, the electrical polling booths were the problem. This election, it was the optical counting machines. When the problems surfaced, though, Johnson couldn’t be reached, the Times reported.

USF saw its share of poor planning on behalf of Johnson’s office, with two precincts allocated to the Marshall Student Center polling site but too few voting booths to accommodate them, resulting in students waiting up to four hours in line to vote.

The final outcome seems to be the desired one for many USF students, judging by the late-night reaction in the streets of Holly Drive. This doesn’t take away from the fact that a state investigation should be opened to look further into the constant disappointments and inadequacies this county has seen during Johnson’s tenure.

It’s time for Florida’s “technical glitches” and other voting station mishaps subside — and not by buying new machines. Johnson may regain his position, but he won’t gain the respect of many voters if he continues this string of errors.