Leon County among Florida precincts to implement Clear Audit for elections

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Published: Apr. 25, 2018 at 4:00 PM EDT
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By: Jake Stofan | Capitol News Service

April 25, 2018

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (CNS) -- Election supervisors are fighting back against the claim that they're overconfident in the state's election security.

With the 2018 midterm elections drawing ever closer, criticism of Florida's election security has been a hot button issue for politicians, like U.S. Senator Marco Rubio, who called election officials "overconfident."

"I would in no way say that we are overconfident," said Pasco County Supervisor of Elections Brian Corley. "We have been giving everything we have to make sure that voters know when they come out to cast their vote, their vote will count."

Florida law requires a sample of ballots to be hand-audited after each election to ensure accuracy.

But, seven counties - Leon, Bay, St. Lucie, Putnam, Nassau, Columbia and Broward - have taken that auditing process a step further by implementing an electronic auditing system called Clear Audit.

In a normal audit, elections officials have to comb through hundreds of ballot boxes looking for specific precincts. The electronic auditing system takes the manual search out by scanning ballots into a database.

"It allows you to find the paper you need to review much more efficiently," said Leon County Supervisor of Elections, Mark early, who used it in the 2016 election.

"Having a good audit system in place is a very good protection and it's kind of your baseline. That's the most critical thing, is making sure you're counting your ballots right,” Early continued.

60 counties don't use the Clear Audit system, but say manual audits have still proven effective and accurate.

"It just doesn't mean that one method is necessarily better than the other, or vice versa," Corley lamented.

While auditing is one piece of the puzzle, supervisors are working with the Department of Homeland Security to ensure security is adequate in the face of potential cyberthreats as well.

In a statement, the Department of State says it's taken "Significant steps in recent years to upgrade hardware, software and firewalls." The Department also plans to hire additional cybersecurity personnel ahead of the 2018 election.