Lee County Elections Supervisor Tapped For Presidential Task Force On Voting Practices

Aug 6, 2013

Credit Erik Hersman / Flickr / Creative Commons

A select taskforce of election officials recruited from across the country is working to create report on best voting practices. The report will be presented to a presidential commission in the coming weeks.

Lee County’s elections supervisor Sharon Harrington is one of the ten officials.

Long lines and long ballots were just some of the problems Floridians dealt with during last year’s presidential election. However, voting issues weren’t exclusive to the Sunshine State.

That’s why during his State of the Union address earlier this year, President Obama announced the formation of the Presidential Commission on Election Administration.

The commission is now looking for some information and suggestions on how to avoid the problems of 2012.

That year lines were long in Lee County and Harrington was criticized. Now she is sharing her insights as part of the president’s initiative.

Harrington said the task force will consider among other things ballot length and design, and voting machines and recruitment and training of poll workers.

“And we will be kind of adding – in my case, adding my own experience,” she said. “We did everything that we thought was going to be alright. Then it turned out not to be. So, we will be passing along that information to them, so that they can get an overall picture.”

Harrington said the Florida Legislature did a good job of improving election laws early this year following some mishaps that some said were attributed to voting changes they passed in 2011.

The taskforce will also take a close look at ballot lengths and design, poll worker training, voting machines, and voter roll maintenance, which includes so-called “voter purges”.

Last year, Florida’s purge of alleged non-citizens from its voter rolls was halted by election supervisors who said the state’s information was unreliable.

Harrington said she’s preparing for a more effective voter purge now that the state has access to a federal database with immigration information.

“They are beginning to reactivate that particular process again, now that they have access to a little bit more information,” she said. “But even when it comes down to us, if the state sends us a record and says ‘we don’t believe this person is a citizen and should not be on the rolls.’ We don’t just remove them.”

State officials renewed the voter purge following the Supreme Court’s decision this summer striking down a key part of the Voting Rights Act.