Leon County May Lose $564,000

By: Laura Kadechka
By: Laura Kadechka

Leon County's supervisor of elections may have to fork over hundreds of thousands in grant dollars. The state says his office failed to comply with the terms of a grant called the "Help America Vote Act."

Ion Sancho says he has a good reason. He hasn't found equipment he feels safeguards the Leon County vote, so there's no contract to purchase equipment and that means Leon County was not in compliance with the grant's January 1 deadline.

Leon County's supervisor of elections, Ion Sancho, has long touted Leon County as having the best system in the nation, and he says he doesn't want to see that change, even if that means the county might lose more than $564,000 in federal voting assistance grant money.

Ion Sancho says, "To date, we have not identified compliant equipment that we felt met the statutory and constitutional needs of the citizens of Leon County."

Sancho received a letter from the Florida Department of State on Thursday demanding his office return the Help America Vote Act money no later than February 16. Sancho still says the state's standards are not secure enough for Leon County.

Sancho says, "I'd rather do this process properly and more expensively than do it with inappropriate equipment that does not safeguard the Leon County citizens’ votes."

A Florida Department of State spokeswomen says, "Leon County is the only county that does not have a contract or is not already compliant."

Leon County Commission Chairman Bill Proctor, who also received a copy of the letter, says he's disturbed that there is still no contract.

Bill Proctor says, "While we admire his high standards for the voters, the state of Florida has spoken and has said ‘we have set a standard.’"

And for that reason, Proctor says he wants to hear more from Ion Sancho. Proctor says he is going to put the matter on the February 14 commission agenda. He says he sent a letter to Sancho Friday afternoon asking that he inform the board on his plans to comply with the state's request.

Leon County allotted nearly $$1.2 million in December for Sancho to purchase new voting equipment.


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