HILLSBOROUGH COUNTY, Fla. (CW44 News At 10) – The first Presidential Debate of 2020, featuring Democratic Nominee Joe Biden and Republican incumbent President Donald Trump focused in part on the integrity of the vote-by-mail process. As the 2020 general election rapidly approaches, Hillsborough County officials have begun testing voting machines to confirm the integrity of the counting process.
The DS800 voting machine was just one step in Wednesday’s official test where Hillsborough County voting officials checked the logic and accuracy of random samples of their voting machines which confirm the integrity of the ballot counting process. “What that means, the logic, is that the machine can see every single line on the ballot where a vote can be cast. And the accuracy of course, is ‘does it count correctly’,” said Craig Latimer, Hillsborough County’s Supervisor of Elections.
Hillsborough County are getting a jump start on the voting process. “In the state of Florida, we can begin processing vote-by-mail ballots 22 days before the election, or after we conclude the Logic and Accuracy test which is today,” said Latimer. His expectations for this year’s voter turnout: “Robust! We usually get about a 73% turnout at a general election. I think it’ll be higher,” he said.
Latimer says the very first results you’re going to see are the early vote and vote-by-mail and then precincts will start rolling in. “Florida has a great opportunity to be the shining star at this time because we will have unofficial results on election night. We’re going to have vote-by-mail, everything that we’ve had in, up until election day, we’re going to upload the early vote on the Monday before the election by law,” said Latimer.
President Donald Trump has made accusations that the country would see mass fraud due to vote-by-mail ballots not returned, but Latimer says his team has it under control. “Vote-by-mail is safe and secure. It’s not riddled with fraud by any means. It’s a safe and secure to vote and the voter is in control. They can stay on top of it and make sure that vote was counted,” said Latimer. “The legislature has put great laws and safety and security around it, and quite frankly, both presidential campaigns have said Floridians are ok to vote by mail. You know, we encourage people to get their information from a trusted source, and a trusted source in this case is certainly my office.”
Latimer says, after today’s tests and despite a pandemic, he’s looking forward to the votes coming in. “In the primary, 68% of our voters voted by mail. So we’re seeing that, but it’s ok, we’ve got the equipment to do it, it’s just a matter of ramping up the volume,” said Latimer.
Voters in Hillsborough County can confirm registration status, digitally track ballots, and see when their ballot has been counted by visiting VoteHillsborough.org.
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