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Sarasota Thursday, Feb. 28, 2019 9 months ago

Sarasota County tests election equipment for Longboat election

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Ahead of the March 12 election, Ron Turner and his team tests all necessary equipment to ensure it will work properly on election night.
by: Brynn Mechem Staff Writer

Picture this: You’ve gone through every step necessary to finish a huge project. It is already 7 p.m. and you are on a deadline. All that’s separating you and your sofa is one final step, but the equipment you need to complete that final step isn’t functioning properly.

That scenario is one the Sarasota County elections board is looking to avoid. 

On Thursday, Sarasota County Supervisor of Elections Ron Turner and his team conducted a logic and accuracy test

Sarasota County Supervisor of Elections Ron Turner shows Longboat Key deputy town clerk Savannah Schield how to read voting results.

of the county’s voting and tabulating equipment ahead of the March 12 elections involving Longboat Key and the Holiday Park Park and Recreation District Board of Trustees. 

“We actually test every piece of equipment that we use before we send it out into any election that we hold because we want to make sure that the equipment is working properly and that it is recording votes as intended,” Turner said. 

The Longboat election will ask residents to vote on two referendum issues: a measure to lengthen Town Commission terms from two years to three and a measure from a developer to establish residential density on a piece of Gulf of Mexico Drive property.

While the March 12 election may be of a smaller scale then say, a gubernatorial or presidential race, Turner said the process is exactly the same. 

“All elections are important to me, one doesn’t have more importance than another,” Turner said. “Sometimes, our local elections that are closer to people, have more impact on our everyday lives than others. 

All equipment is checked before the election, and is kept under a lock and alarm. Additionally, each piece of voting equipment is protected by tamper-resistant seals. 

“It lets us know that no one has accessed any part of that tabulation equipment without our knowledge because they would have to break a tamper-resistant seal and we would know about it,” he said. 

Workers ensure that all election equipment is functioning properly.

While the board takes all of these security measures, some people may still find themselves questioning the accuracy of the machines, but Turner said they don’t need to.

“One of the things we do after each election is a manual audit,” Turner said. “We select a race and a precinct on the ballot and hand count all of those early voting, vote-by-mail and election day ballots, and the machine is always spot on.” 

Early voting will kick off Monday, March 4, and run through Saturday, March 9, from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.  Longboat Key early voting for both Sarasota and Manatee counties voters will be in Town Hall, where they will be met with a sweet surprise. 

“The clerk’s office will provide refreshments — dipped strawberries and root beer floats, things like that,” said Longboat Key town clerk Trish Shinkle. “The clerk’s office buys everything. This is our way of meeting our residents and letting them know we care about them.” 

Regular voting will be held from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. Tuesday, March 12. Manatee and Sarasota counties voters will vote in their precincts on election day. 

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