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Your Election Will Not Be “Rigged”
Flagler Elections Supervisor Kaiti Lenhart Explains

| October 24, 2016

'The integrity of your voting system is my highest priority,' says Kaiti Lenhart, Flagler County's Supervisor of Elections.

‘The integrity of your voting system is my highest priority,’ says Kaiti Lenhart, Flagler County’s Supervisor of Elections.

For the past several days, GOP presidential nominee Donald Trump and his surrogates have been making unprecedented claims about a rigged election. The claims culminated Wednesday evening in Trump’s refusal to say he’ll accept the results of the Nov. 8 election, an affront to the democratic system itself. The claims of rigging or voter fraud are demonstrably false, and Trump’s understanding of how elections work in the United States is poor, particularly with regard to its decentralized, state and local-based infrastructure. We invited Flagler County Elections Supervisor Kaiti Lenhart to explain how the system works in Flagler, as it does with close similarities in Florida’s 66 other counties, and to answer questions Lenhart has been getting in light of recent claims, which she notes are not exclusive to 2016. 

By Kaiti Lenhart

It’s that time of year again. Voting systems across the United States have come under fire from both sides of the political spectrum. In the Elections Office, we have the same conversation with voters to debunk the myths and rumors spread in October of every even-numbered year. The mission of the Supervisor of Elections is to enhance public confidence, encourage citizen participation and increase voter awareness. Why? Because your trust in the electoral process is essential for the success of democracy: a government of the people, for the people and by the people. A community is made stronger by an active, informed electorate. Your right to vote is precious and your Flagler County Elections Team is working hard to make sure your voice is heard. Here are the topics most commonly questioned by concerned voters, explained first-hand by your local Elections Official.

Security of the Voting System.: Concerned voters have contacted the Elections Office and shared videos and other news stories which suggest the voting system can be “hacked.” All of these scenarios begin with unrestricted access being provided to the voting system memory card or media which would not be acceptable in any county in Florida and certainly not in Flagler County.

The Elections Office is secured by motion detectors and video surveillance, with additional exterior cameras and motion sensors added in 2015. Otherwise, the equipment is in the full view of the election poll workers, poll watchers and most likely several voters during use for early voting or on Election Day. The election tabulation server is a stand-alone system: it is not connected to the Internet or any network. The tabulation equipment also does not connect to the Internet or a network. Therefore, it would be impossible for a security breach of the server or equipment to occur from off-site.

The election-definition media is secured in the machines by lock, and sealed with a tamper-resistant seal. (Storage media is used for each individual tabulator which contains the election definition.) This seal carries a unique serial number which is recorded after the Logic and Accuracy test is completed and the machines are set for election. This same seal is verified and confirmed to be free of tampering by all members of the election poll workers prior to use on Election Day. Access to the election definition on a voting system would require the memory access door key, breaking the tamper seal, loading the definition media (which requires the password and encryption key media from the original definition being replaced), and an identical new seal.

Even if a breach of the system was made in full view of voters and a team of election poll workers, the newly coded system would be rejected by the tabulation server. Each piece of media created by the election definition contains an encrypted security key which is changed for every election. Our entire voting system is based upon the paper ballot, which cannot be hacked. Ballots are sorted by precinct and stored securely in the Elections Office under lock and key in the event of a required recount or the Manual Audit after every election.

Voter Roll or List Maintenance: During each Presidential election cycle, we hear reports of “dead” persons and “non-citizens” on the voter rolls. In addition to the voter eligibility requirements and verification by the Department of State (see below), the integrity of the voter registration list is preserved through regular list maintenance.

The list maintenance process is mandated in every county in Florida by Section 98.065, Florida Statutes. Supervisors of Elections across Florida are required to conduct list maintenance activities once during every odd-numbered year and no later than 90 days prior to a Federal election. In Flagler County, we conduct these list maintenance activities regularly and according to schedule.

Dead people will not be voting.

We also process deceased matches each week with information received from the Bureau of Vital Statistics and the Social Security Administration. The voter registration database is also cross-checked regularly for those persons who are ineligible for a variety of other statutory reasons, which include felony convictions or those who have been adjudicated mentally incapacitated with respect to voting. These match files are processed in accordance with Section 98.075, Florida Statutes and the outlined procedures for removal.

Voter Registration and Voter Eligibility: To register to vote in the state of Florida, you must: be a US Citizen, a Florida resident, 18 years old, not adjudicated mentally incapacitated or convicted of a felony (without having rights restored) and provide a current and valid Florida driver’s license, Florida ID card, or the last four digits of your Social Security number.

Each new voter registration is entered into the statewide database and the applicant’s information is verified by the Florida Department of State. Voter eligibility and citizenship is verified through two sources of information, the Florida Driver’s License or Social Security number provided by the applicant. One of these forms of identification is required to register to vote in the State of Florida.

Each person who registers to vote signs an oath on the Florida Voter Registration Application, which reads: “I do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will protect and defend the Constitution of the United States and the Constitution of the State of Florida, that I am qualified to register as an elector under the Constitution and laws of the State of Florida, and that all information provided in this application is true.”


(© FlaglerLive)

Here’s a Florida Voter Registration Application (though the deadline for eligibility to vote in the Nov. 8 election has passed).

In order to vote in Florida, each voter must present an acceptable form of photo and signature identification. See details here. Any voter whose eligibility cannot be determined must vote with a provisional ballot. Each provisional ballot is presented to the three-member local Canvassing Board for determination on a case-by-case basis. The Canvassing Board is a three-person board comprised of a member from each branch of government: the chair of the County Commission (or designee), the County Judge and the Supervisor of Elections. All of the Canvassing Board meetings are open to the public.

Each of the early voting sites and precincts are communicating via a secure internal network to prevent voter fraud. This communication prevents anyone from sending their ballot by mail and/or attempting to vote twice during early voting or on Election Day. Real-time voting is recorded and communicated across the early voting sites and on Election Day.

Tabulation of Votes: We thoroughly test each component of the voting system prior to each election. Every oval position in every race is tested to ensure the voting equipment is reading ballots accurately. The equipment is further tested to ensure the ballots are read in every orientation and that an over-voted ballot is rejected by the tabulator, to give the voter the opportunity to review their choices. Thousands of test ballots from each vote type and ballot style are run through the equipment as part of our rigorous testing procedures to ensure the tabulators are functioning properly.

We also test the upload to the elections management server to ensure the results produced are the same as the predetermined totals on each individual tabulator. During a public meeting of the Canvassing Board, we perform the Logic and Accuracy testing of the voting system. The public is welcomed to come and witness the process first-hand, and have an opportunity to ask questions.  The meeting for this General Election was held on Friday, October 14 at 1 p.m. Our voting system was tested and each piece of equipment passed our Logic and Accuracy test with a satisfactory rating of 100 percent.

The Flagler elections office's ouch screen tabulators as they are being prepared for the election. Click on the image for larger view. (Supervisor of Elections Office)

The Flagler elections office’s ouch screen tabulators as they are being prepared for the election. Click on the image for larger view. (Supervisor of Elections Office)

After the election, we perform what is called a Manual Audit of the voting system. One race and one precinct are selected randomly by the Canvassing Board, and the paper ballots for the selected precinct and race are counted by hand. The precinct-level results are not released until after the Manual Audit has been completed, so the counting team does not know the results for the precinct. The tabulation totals are compared to the hand counted totals for each candidate and each race, for every vote type and ballot style. This public meeting of the Canvassing Board is scheduled for November 22 at 10 a.m. at the elections office. 

Vote By Mail Ballots: Mail ballots are counted in every election. Early voting and vote-by-mail ballots are the first results you see posted at 7 p.m. or shortly thereafter on Election Night. The identity of each mail ballot voter is verified by signature match on the return envelope. The Flagler County Elections Team has processed and delivered over 15,000 vote-by-mail ballots for this General Election. Elections Staff will be very busy checking every single one of the returned envelopes to ensure each signature matches the signature on file in the voter’s record. If the signature does not match or if the signature is missing, the voter is notified and given an opportunity to update their signature.

We are fortunate that our county is a manageable size and that individualized attention can be given to voters if there is an issue with their returned ballot. Elections staff goes the extra mile to contact mail voters by phone and email, if necessary. All mail ballots with difference in signature are referred to the Canvassing Board for a decision. During the Primary Election, there were 18 ballots referred to the Canvassing Board for a difference in signature out of a total of 11,684 mail ballots issued. That’s a referral rate of less than 1 percent.

Mail votes are tabulated during public meetings of the Canvassing Board by using a central count, high speed scanner. Our vote-by-mail returns have increased steadily since 2012 and this technology has made the tabulation process much more efficient. These ballots are tabulated in a public meeting. Any member of the public is welcomed to attend, see for yourself how the Elections Team and Canvassing Board work together to ensure every vote counts! Our first meeting for the canvassing of mail ballots is Oct. 26, at 10 a.m. The full schedule of the Flagler County Canvassing Board is always available on the Elections Office homepage  under Public Notices.

The integrity of your voting system is my highest priority. I would love the opportunity to explain our local elections process to anyone who has a concern. I am available by phone at (386) 313-4170 to answer any questions.

Kaiti Lenhart was appointed Supervisor of Elections by Gov. Rick Scott in early 2015, and won election to the post last August. 

25 Responses for Your Election Will Not Be “Rigged”
Flagler Elections Supervisor Kaiti Lenhart Explains”

  1. Robert Lewis says:

    our confidence in voting system is raised because of the quality and outstanding Supervisor of Elections.

  2. Veteran says:

    Dead people can’t vote in FL because we must show photo ID. Not all states require one which is ridiculous in my opinion.

  3. Pat Patterson says:

    Not saying voter fraud has or will happen in Flagler County but it can, does, and most likely, will happen elsewhere throughout the Country.

  4. Florida Gator says:

    Are we having early voting for President? I’ve heard nothing.

  5. Nancy N. says:

    Veteran – dead people can’t vote because as described above by Ms Lenhart, they aren’t on the rolls in the first place! They are removed when their deaths are filed with the state and/or social security. So there’s no name on the list for anyone to try to claim to be, with or without ID.

    Good luck on trying to convince people Ms Lenhart…it’s hard to get your message across when some people have their fingers in their ears.

  6. Kendall says:

    Thank you Kaiti!! We are lucky to have you as our Supervisor of Elections!

  7. DRedder says:

    Not to mention the new article out that reports George Soros’ Ownership interest in smartmatic. A manufacture of electronic voting machine which just so happen to be utilized right here on in the US of A. What’s the saying It’s not who’s running, but who counts the votes that matters?

  8. PCer says:

    Thank you. I have faith in our system right here in Flagler county and across the United States.

  9. Fraudisreal says:

    There has been reported over 10 cases of fraud in multiple states in the last two weeks. The democrats have said Russians are trying to fix election and trump has said the election is rigged, as well as Bernie Sanders.

    Wikileaks showed the dnc manipulated that vote and committed fraud

    There is undercover video this week showing the fraud has been active for 50 years and how it is done.

    I could go on….Does anyone really believe elections are fair in America?

    There is no journalist investigation of even this basic stuff so sad

  10. Ron says:

    So you are telling all these readers their has never been a case of voter fraud. You are telling me that absent t ballots cannot be lost in the mail. How clueless due you think your readership is.

  11. Layla says:

    I have seen people come into the precincts who have not registered their new addresses here with the SOE and they are allowed to vote. Why? Many have drivers licenses from south Florida. They state, I just moved here, somebody picks up the phone to the office and they fill out paperwork and are allowed to vote.

    Can you explain this, please?

  12. Knightwatch says:

    The right is planning for Trump’s demise. Blame the media and blame voter fraud. Seems they can neither comprehend nor gracefully accept an election where their candidate’s own words and actions cause his defeat. So, as with President Obama, they’ll de-legitimize Hillary’s election and conspire to sabotage her presidency.

    The political right is profoundly disingenuous, delusional and hypocritical. They are indifferent to facts and reality. They exist in their alt-right world where only Fox, Breitbart, and Alex Jones are trusted sources of misinformation.
    I cannot wait for November 9th when they wake up to the rejection of their plans, their dreams, and their outrageous candidate. Their bile will flow in the streets. A nasty woman president! It’ll be the best day of my life.

  13. Tarheel says:

    If people would listen to the entire statement that Trump is saying instead of sound bites, you would have heard”the election is being rigged by the media” and IMO, that is accurate. The media is telling you what they want you to hear, not everything that is being said. That fact that some here only hear “the election is being rigged” is proof in the pudding. Try listening to an entire statement instead of just snippets before writing articles or formulating opinions about it.

  14. Concerned citizen says:

    Only 16 years ago we saw what this system can do. Theo don’t need legit voter fraud when they have the electoral college in the bag.

  15. Veteran says:

    Nancy N. People voting in the name of dead have been caught in other states. Deceased are not automatically removed from the rolls. Democrats say there is no voter fraud. Another lie.

  16. Cindy J says:

    I just have one thing to say in response to Ms. Lenhart–when I walked into the Palm Coast branch of the Flagler County library during the 2016 primary election, to cast my early vote, I was handed a “ballot” that had been printed at the laser printer at the front of the room. I have never seen this before, and always–always–any other time I ever voted in ANY election (in Florida or Pennsylvania or Virginia)–I was handed a pre-printed, coded, official ballot.

    When I went to turn in my marked piece of stock printer paper, I made the remark that “Well, this is one way to ensure you don’t run out of ballots”–we’d all seen how in other states/jurisdictions up to that time where they were running out of ballots during the actual primary voting day (thus leaving many disenfranchised altogether). When I made that remark about “running out” at the library, I said it in a joking-around kind of way, yet another woman that was in the office at the time–and happened to be in the back of the room–came running up front, and literally yanked my ballot out of my hand, telling me she’d take care of my ballot. I watched her shove it in the machine while another lady practically pushed me out the side door. Mind you, none of this looked untoward–they did this as if they’d done it dozens of times before, “Oh, don’t worry, Mrs. (CindyJ), we’ll take care of it…” and none of it was done in anger. I just felt like I’d been hustled through the process and encouraged to get out as quick as I could, before I had a chance to question anything else. This did not engender confidence on my part that my primary vote actually counted.

    So you see, Ms. Lenhart, there’s a really good reason for people to doubt our election process–here and everywhere else. It’s not just because some people on TV questioned it, in order to score political points or whatever. I saw this firsthand. And if I see this again in early GE voting, I will file a complaint to anyone that will take it, because I don’t believe that piece of paper was a real ballot. Try and slough it off on your predecessor–that’s fine–but if I’m going to see it again, I need to understand why I should consider it to be legitimate.

  17. proud yankee says:

    a study done on federal elections found 100’s of millions of votes cast, 38 were fraud.

    voter fraud is not an issue and if it is its the GOP doing it. They are in control of the senate, the congress and the majority of governors offices.

    Trump is going to get smoked. If it is even close, than investigate fraud.

  18. W.Ryan says:

    I can’t defend a system that cheated the people of Al Gore which caused Bush and Cheney and years of destruction and chaos around the world and the undoing of the US financial markets. We got past that. Now with all the measures to disenfranchise numerous Americans by the Republican Party there is a concern. However I feel confidant we have a very capable person in charge in Flagler. We will far well. Just as long as these Trump heads realize that Trump is an idiot and oppose his election. This is the real fear, not the voter fraud hype.

  19. Katie Semore says:

    There is approximately 2 voter fraud votes for every 15 million votes cast, not nearly the problem some would like to believe. Tin hats will be available for those who need them, basically so we can identify the crazies.

  20. Katie Semore says:

    Know why highly educated people are mostly liberal and Democrat? It is because they are smart!

  21. Knightwatch says:

    You said it, Katie. Critical thinking is a learned skill that most Trump voters lack.

  22. Donald Trump's Tiny Fingers says:

    proud yankee, here:

    It should be noted that this was an 5 year effort made by the justice department under the bush administration, not the clinton or obama one. So

  23. RP says:

    People should always be vigilant of voter fraud and I am aware that cases do happen, albeit rarely. I have no political affiliation whatsoever, but let’s be honest, the only “rigging” going on here is an unqualified billionaire candidate pouring money into a campaign to try and buy the election. This election will not be won by a few cases of fraud, Hillary Clinton is going to crush Trump. Not because she’s infinitely more qualified, but because she’s not a madman like Trump. I have confidence the American people will make the right choice regardless of politics.

  24. Fraud is possible says:

    When you have non citizens, dead people, felons, married people (women) with multiple last names on the voter rolls and a secretary of state who is doing nothing about a national voter registration data base to ensure voters are not voting in more than one county, there is voter fraud! With voters being able to vote weeks before an election and some states allowing voter registration on election day and the ability to vote without showing ID there is voter fraud. When Ion Sanchez of Leon County showed that election equipment used in Florida can be hacked (the same equipment used in Flagler County) despite it is not connected to the internet, there may be voter fraud. So for a Supervisor of Elections to tell the public elections are not rigged indicates we have a supervisor who either wither not too smart or thinks the American people are not too smart. It is time for election reform in this country. It is time that we not promote voting by mail or voter registration or voting itself by internet. The state of Florida’s voter registration system has been hacked twice in the past several years. How could the state not have taken measures after the first time to prevent this from happening again? What proof do we have that any information hasn’t been compromised?

  25. Cindy J says:

    Paging Mrs. Lenhart….I wrote the above letter a few days after this posted, so I didn’t expect her to respond here. However, I did send the inquiry in writing as well to the bureau of elections in Flagler County, via their webform, and I have yet to even get an acknowledgement that I sent it. I’m sure they’re quite busy, but, well, this is kind of important….

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