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Monday December 22nd 2014

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Study says Escambia County is the 13th worse election offender

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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.