Escambia County Pensacola Politics

Study says Escambia County is the 13th worse election offender

December 11, 2013

Escambia County Election Supervisor David Stafford questions validity of recent report that ranks his office as the 13th worse “election offender” in Florida.

The Democrat-leaning Center for American Progress Action Fund issued Monday a report, “Florida’s Worse Election Offenders,” that examined the role supervisors of election played in the voting problems that plagued the 2012 presidential election.

The report determined that voting experience and voting process varied by Florida county—“from the ease of voter registration, to the maintenance of voter lists, to the number of voting machines, many county-based factors affect voters’ overall experience and their access to the ballot box.”

The factors used in ranking the counties were:
• Voter turnout
• Overall voter registration rate
• Voter registration rate for African Americans
• Voter registration rate for Hispanics
• Rate of registered voters removed from voting lists • Waiting time
• Provisional ballots cast
• Provisional ballots rejected
• Absentee ballots rejected

Escambia County was ranked the 13th worse out the state’s top 40 most populous counties. Santa Rosa County was ranked much higher 38 out of 40—with 40 being the best county.

The rankings are surprising because Santa Rosa County had a lot of problems reporting its 2012 election results and was one of the last in the state to do so. Escambia County voting ran smoothly with few problems.

David Stafford, Escambia County Supervisor of Election, responded to the report, “Several of my colleagues who this group rated low are among the most respected in the state. I fundamentally disagree with the conclusions in this report, as well as its methodology and assumptions.”

He pointed how he and others were penalized in the report for removing ineligible voters, something that is required by state and federal law and is one of the factors that can impact the rate of registered voters to voting age population, according to Stafford.

“As always, we are constantly striving to improve and will be looking deeper at the data to see if there is any useful information to be gleaned,” said the supervisor, who has held the position since 2005.

St. Johns (county seat, St. Augustine) had the best overall ranking and Columbia County (Lake City) had the worst.

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  • Mary December 12, 2013 at 1:51 pm

    In my opinion David Stafford and his staff are tops. Why is it when someone actually follows the law and sheds its roles of the ineligible they are chastised for it. Could it be those writing this report have a hidden agenda, i.e., keep as many people on the roles as possible, whether eligible or not, so they will votes a certain way (the way the writers of the report want)? Hmmm, I’d say yes.

  • Travis Peterson December 11, 2013 at 8:51 pm

    Having worked in several campaigns in Escambia County and throughout Florida, I’ve always found David and his team to be very helpful, very fair, and very ready to listen to concerns.

    So much of what governs how local Supervisors of Elections operate is set at the state or federal level by politicians who are gaming the system for their own electoral advantage, and local supervisors have to abide by laws, regardless of whether they are fair or even sensible.

    However, I think Stafford and his team do a great job. Elections workers are always friendly, most of the time very informed, and without fail, always willing to help. I’d put him in the top five or ten in the state as far as competent, friendly, helpful, and accessible.

  • Gary Sammons December 11, 2013 at 5:53 pm

    I meant to say men and women in uniform…

  • Gary Sammons December 11, 2013 at 5:51 pm

    David Stafford, you are a class act. No outside group can damage your brand with propaganda. Just keep doing what you are doing, fighting for our men and women to vote with ease and looking out for the voters of Escambia County.