Elections supervisors fight back against claims they're "overconfident"

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Published: Apr. 25, 2018 at 10:10 PM CDT
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Election supervisors are fighting back against the claim 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."

Brian Corley, Pasco County's Supervisor of Elections countered, "I would in no way say that we are overconfident. 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 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 Mark Early, Leon County Supervisor of Elections.

Early 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," he said.

Sixty 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," said Corley.

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 cyber threats 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.