Politics

St. Lucie Elections Supervisor Gertrude Walker: 'The Right People are in Office'

By: Jim Turner | Posted: December 14, 2012 3:55 AM

Gertrude Walker

St. Lucie County Supervisor of Elections Gertrude Walker in August during the 2012 primary | Credit: TCPalm

Despite being the only county that failed to meet the post-Election Night deadlines to submit vote totals -- and her office being the target of a verbal missile barrage that featured the words “botched” and “disaster” -- St. Lucie County long-serving Supervisor of Elections Gertrude Walker is confident the final numbers submitted to the state are correct.

“I’m confident of the results of the election and the results were accurate and there is no question as to who won that race,” Walker said Thursday after a three-hour closed door session with Secretary of State Ken Detzner.

"The right people are in office," Walker said.

The race in question was the contest between U.S. Rep. Allen West, R-Palm Beach Gardens, and Jupiter Democrat Patrick Murphy, which saw numbers change in the outcome as officials had to refeed ballots through tabulation machines because of several discrepancies.

West has since claimed that Murphy had to “cheat” to win. State Sen. Joe Negron, R-Stuart, called the election process “botched” in St. Lucie County. State Rep. Gayle Harrell, R-Stuart, described the elections office as a “disaster.

Sen. Jack Latvala, R-Clearwater, chairman of the state Senate Ethics and Elections Committee, has suggested that removing some supervisors where troubles occurred could be considered by his committee.

Walker, who has been with the elections office for 32 years, placed part of the blame on the manufacturer of the voting equipment for not having an adequate number of memory cards available.

“There are a number of things that can go wrong in an election and you have to have redundancy for every effort,” Walker said.

Detzner said an audit conducted by a team from his office as the ballots were being refed through the machines should be completed next week.

He praised the election staff in St. Lucie, as with the other counties, for their work. But he later would add, "Changes will be made."

The review of Walker’s office concluded a three-day review of the state’s most troubled counties in terms of the 2012 general election -- Lee, Miami-Dade, Broward, Palm Beach and St. Lucie.

Supervisors from those counties have complained that the long lines that were prominently featured in the media, people waiting at times more than four hours to vote, could have been cut down by extending the number of early voting days back to 14 from eight and giving counties more flexibility as to where early voting locations could be set up.

Detzner, who has refrained from saying what he has found, did say Thursday the technology in some of the counties may need to be addressed. “I’m going to be looking very closely at whether the technology in the entire state is up to the standards we need,” Detzner said.

“Are the providers of technology providing the service and support that they need to provide?” Detzner said. “Are they working on new versions of software?”

The elections office will also review if the length of the reporting period – four days for unofficial results and the 12-day deadline for official results -- gives counties enough time in case a statewide recount is required.

“Clearly, when you have a recount you have to do it in a reasonable period of time, within the ability of humans to operate,” said Detzner, who commended the efforts of the St. Lucie County Elections Office staff to conduct the refeed.

Walker said her office missed the 12-day deadline by “eight seconds.”

Detzner and members of his staff plan to visit a number of smaller counties next week that didn’t have the problems that cropped up in South Florida.

His report on the counties is expected to be completed for Gov. Rick Scott in late January.



Reach Jim Turner at jturner@sunshinestatenews.com or at (772) 215-9889.



Comments (6)

marti barber
4:34PM DEC 14TH 2012
Nothing is said about the military votes that were "stored in a warehouse." Please include them in the re-count.
Ben
3:29PM DEC 14TH 2012
The major thing that's wrong here is that the Republicans are doing everything possible to eliminate Democratic voters. This is just plain wrong.

We're (moderate Republicans and Democrats) going to eliminate Rick Scott and put a Democrat in the Governor's seat, and put a muzzle and handcuffs on the extremist and power hungry among the Republicans. See how they like it. Gayle Harrell is going to be one of the first to go.

I used to like her but her disgusting remarks have changed my mind about her integrity. I voted for her in the past because I have met her and thought she was a good person, but will not do that again now that she is showing her true colors (usually a red power suit; and just think, I thought she wore it because she looked good in red....ha! ).

The Republicans can't run fast enough to escape the reputation they've created for themselves in the last 4 years. In 4 years from now, nobody will have forgotten. The continued posturing, blaming, paranoia and conspiracy comments are just lengthening the time people will remember their despicable behavior and strengthen resolve to get them out of office. Even the moderate Republicans (me included) don't want them around anymore and the sooner we get them out of here, the better.
Bert
9:21PM DEC 15TH 2012
A moderate Republican is called a RINO. Republican In Name Only. You must be one. Representative Harrell is one of the hardest working and most respected representative in Tallahassee. Comments recently made about the SOE office are true and supported by history. There are problems in that office during every election. Election 2006 was very similar, in errors, to this past election. History repeasts itself. You should try to learn a few facts befor you shoot off your mouth.
Beverly Hires
1:02PM DEC 14TH 2012
Let's hope our officials realize that even updated software will not fix what is wrong with the way we count ballots. New Hampshire, Germany and the Netherlands, just to name a few, have returned to public bipartisan hand counting of paper ballots as machines are not only inaccurate and fraught with problems, whether technical or software, but are highly insecure and extremely easy to hack or worse, program to select a winner. I am 100% certain that a hand recount of paper ballots in St Lucie or Palm Beach would prove that the machines are wrong, and our vote being counted correctly is fundamental. Problems Florida experienced were not unique and seen around the country where ever machines replace the eyes of the people. Besides, it isn't as if the machines and software are provided by an independent American small or medium sized business. They are provided by foreign multinational conglomerates, owned and controlled by the most elite of the world. Let's have the people count the people's vote. It isn't hard to do and my nonscientific survey shows overwhelming support for firing the machines and returning to basics, public hand counting of paper ballots.
Frank
11:27AM DEC 14TH 2012
It goes back further than this election - remember that Kurt Browning resigned earlier this year rather than push some of the "reforms" that Rick Scott and a partisan Legislature wanted to be implemented on the voters . . .

Recall that Rick Scott's initial move was to attempt to remove 182,000 (mostly Democratically) registered voters . . . which prompted Secretary Kurt Browning (Detzner's predecessor) to later resign and state "We were not confident enough about the information for this secretary to hang his hat on it" . . . . yes, we'll see where the blame attempts to be shifted to, although it's clear where responsibility for these problems belong . . . . . right in Rick Scott's and the Legislature hands . . . . . but I'm also sure they'll NEVER admit they intentionally undertook premeditated voter suppression . . . . . .maybe IT IS TIME to get the courts involved and actually get to the bottom of the problems of the last election . . . . . or maybe I should say "FURTHER INVOLVED" as the courts have already ruled that a number of actions on the part of Rick Scott and the Legislature WERE illegal or unconstitutional . . . . . .

Pathetic . . . .
David Kearns
7:48AM DEC 14TH 2012
The Division of Elections knows full-well the " failure of memory cards to upload their data" error on precisely these machines, because precisely this same error occurred during the election of Rick Scott in Hillsborough in 2010. 38,000 ballots were rescanned in that case. NO investigation. Never the less that have the paperwork from that "error". Did they issue a warning to counties using these machines? Likely not. Did they instruct county SEO's about the dangers of "hot removal" of the memory cards as they were being coded for use? Likely not. The governor's Whoopsie Daisy Commission's sole aim here is to defray suspicion AWAY from the division of elections. Why did former Division Director Salas resign her post last summer? To be with family? Or, to get as far away as humanly possible from the taint of election fraud?

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