So, let me get this straight, the political newcomer who won the Governor’s mansion by spending $73 million of his own money and then, as Governor, signed into a law a so-called reform bill which actually only makes it more difficult for citizens to vote, is now going to grade the state’s Supervisors of Elections?
Man, that’s rich.
Supervisors of Elections from around the state are objecting to the survey results distributed this week by the Scott administration that scored them after the January presidential primary on various performance measures, such as how quickly they report results.
Writing for the Florida State Association of Supervisors of Elections, Escambia County Supervisor of Elections David Stafford, a Republican, said the measurements don’t accurately reflect how good the supervisors are at their jobs – and that the supervisors didn’t learn the purpose of the questions they were asked until the Division of Elections put out the results.
Stafford said the supervisors had urged Secretary of State Ken Detzner not to publish the results.
Stafford reminded Scott in a sharply-worded letter sent Wednesday that the governor doesn’t actually have much control over the supervisors – they’re constitutional officers who are elected independently. And the measurements are flawed, he said.
“Unfortunately, the items used in the survey are not, by themselves, true indicators of a supervisor of elections’ office,” Stafford wrote. “Furthermore, the data is flawed in certain instances, thereby yielding a result which is inaccurate….”
Stafford said the survey – if used to produce a public ranking of each supervisor – “has the potential to undermine confidence in Florida’s elections, which we work tirelessly to instill in the public.
“As you are well aware,” Stafford wrote, “we are responsible for carrying out our duties and the citizens and voters in our counties are the persons best able to evaluate that performance.”
The rankings are hard to decipher, but include seven metrics, such as when results were first uploaded on election night, when early voting dates were announced and when absentee ballots were mailed. An eighth “extra credit” category was for returning the survey early.
The rankings went from 1 point for submitting a particular type of data early to negative 1 for submitting it late, and negative 2 for not submitting it at all. For submitting data “on time,” but not early, counties got a 0.
While no county supervisor got the maximum score of eight, several registered a seven. Several supervisors scored at each level all the way down to three counties that received scores of negative 4, the lowest recorded. Those were Brevard, Palm Beach, and Seminole counties.
While the scores made it out – the state sent them to supervisors this week and they were subsequently leaked – Scott’s office said they won’t be used for the moment.
“Gov. Scott has been briefed on the letter from the supervisors of election and agrees to give this issue additional consideration,” Scott spokesman Lane Wright said. “We will wait to post anything online until he’s had time to evaluate the concerns.”
While the survey came from Detzner’s office, Stafford said officials told the supervisors that Scott was driving the measuring effort.
“It was made clear to us that the survey and ranking were initiated out of the governor’s office,” Stafford said in the letter to Scott. “We have requested a meeting with your office to discuss our serious concerns on this issue on numerous occasions over the past several weeks, but have yet to receive a response.”
In addition to the complaints from the supervisors, Democratic lawmakers also criticized Scott on the survey.
“Gov. Scott still hasn’t figured out that there are limits to his authority,” said Rep. Rick Kriseman, D-St. Petersburg. “Florida’s elections supervisors deserve support from statewide officers and they shouldn’t have to succumb to meddling by the governor. I am confident that county elections supervisors are willing to participate in meaningful surveys, but I am sure they are opposed to the governor meddling in and undermining both their work and the confidence of voters.”
Material from the News Service of Florida was used in this report.