Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Elections Chief and Deputy Clerk At Odds Over Ballot Count

The outgoing Chief Deputy at the Brevard County Clerk of Courts office and the Brevard County Supervisor of Elections are locked in the three-month stalemate over a request to inspect ballots from three randomly selected precincts from this summer’s August 14 Republican primary.
Sean Campbell also initiated public records requests regarding information on the county’s voting machines and email communications between the Elections office and Needelman’s primary opponent Scott Ellis, who won the election by a 61-39% margin.
Lori Scott maintains, in email communication provided to Brevard Times, that Campbell has not specified the precincts that he wants counted, despite “60+” emails “back and forth.” 
Campbell replied, “As for wanting to know what precincts I want copied I do not see what relevance it has on the time it would take you to pull three, four or five boxes from the warehouse and copy them, assuming that it was going to be done as a project and not pieced out over time.
“I assume that this can be done in a day, two at the most; after all I am absorbing the cost of the employee and I would hope it could be done in a timely manner. I assume you can give me a time frame on this as I wouldn't want it to carry out for another month or two.”
Scott said that the original estimate of nearly $8,000 has been lowered because Campbell has changed the scope of his request.
Scott wrote, “The estimate previously provided to you was on the basis of your original request which would have necessitated a hand sorting of all early voting and absentee ballots, an issue that is no longer present if only precinct ballots are being requested.  If you truly wish to select only 1500 ballots, the cost would be the statutory $0.15 per page plus $10 per hour for a staff person to make the copies.  The estimate to copy 1500 precinct ballots is $265.00 (1500 pages plus approximately four hours of staff time).
“However, because the precincts have not been designated and some individual precincts contain more than 1500 ballots alone, the actual cost could potentially be much higher depending upon your precinct selections and the number of ballots cast in each of those precincts.  When you define the precincts, I will provide you with an estimate reflecting the cost and time involved to fulfill your specific request.”
Campbell initially made the request because of what he felt were suspicious voter patterns in the hotly contested primary, including approximately 1,300 under votes in the Clerk’s race as compared to other county Constitutional offices’ races such as Sherriff and Property Appraiser.
Regarding the request for previous email communications, Scott said, “This office has provided you with an estimate of over 8000 documents of correspondence responsive to your request.  We anticipate finalizing the collection of these documents the week after November 20th, the end of the conduct of the General Election.  After a final page count has been tallied, I will send you that number with the final cost associated with the request.  Upon your rendering payment as due under the statute, the documents will be made available for pickup.”
Scott had previously replied to Campbell’s request related to the voting machines.

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