State elections chief Ken Detzner on Palm Beach County election fiascoby Dara Kam | March 20th, 2012
Secretary of State Ken Detzner, Florida’s top election official, said his aides are on the ground in Palm Beach County trying to figure out what went wrong with last week’s Wellington elections in which elections supervisor Susan Bucher‘s office certifiedtwo wrong winners in local races.
Detzner, who took over the post last month, said his office is working with Bucher and Dominion Voting Systems, the vendor of the election voting and tabulation equipment Bucher blames for the erroneous results.
“We have people on the ground in Palm Beach working with the supervisor’s office to evaluate what the problem is, number one. That’s the first thing we have to do,” Detzner said Tuesday morning. “Keep in mind there were 16 municipal elections. Of those, one election appears to have had a problem…The question is to determine where the problem was. And until I hear back from my people, we’re not going to make any conclusions or any ideas of what happened until I hear back from them.”
Detzner, whose office certifies all elections hardware and software, said the Dominion technology is in use in Indian River County was recently purchased by Duval County.
The Palm Beach County mishap has sparked a political and legal upheaval in the village of Wellington and appears to be unprecedented since on overhaul in state election laws – in part in response to the county’s infamous “butterfly ballots – in the aftermath of the protracted 2000 recount.
Detzner called the Wellington incident – announced by Bucher Monday – isolated and said he remains confident in the integrity of the November presidential elections.
“Any time there is an irregularity in an election it would cause some concern. Again, I have to look back at there were 16 municipal elections. Fifteen of those went well. There was a problem with one. So I’m going to be reviewing the process, the certification, whether or not there was human error, whether or not it was a software glitch, what it is, and we’ll make corrective actions going forward,” he said. “But I’m confident if you’ve seen the primary results, the primary election results, we did not have any problems. SO I’m confident we have good systems. The supervisors are doing their job. And I’m confident that this might be a very isolated situation and we’ll take corrective action.”
Detzner said it was premature to anticipate any action against Bucher or her office.
“I wouldn’t suggest that in any way until I know what the problem is. That would be very wrong for me to do that,” he said.
Gov. Rick Scott, who appointed Detzner last month, said he was aware of the Wellington problem but not the specifics of what appeared to have gone wrong.
“I feel comfortable that our secretary of state is going to do a good job,” Scott said before this morning’s Cabinet meeting.
When asked if he was concerned about possible election problems in November, Scott said: “I worry about everything. I do worry about hurricanes and wildfires a little more than other things.”