Duval County elections officials test voting machines ahead of primary

Public was permitted to observe as elections officials ran test ballots through

At the elections warehouse in Duval County on Friday, officials tested the machines that are being used at every precinct.

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Florida’s primary is less than a month away, and early voting will start in Jacksonville a week from Monday.

Since the last presidential election, there has been discussion over the accuracy of the vote count. Because of that, many people will be watching what happens in this midterm election closely.

At the elections warehouse in Duval County on Friday, officials tested the machines that are being used at every precinct. Ballots were run through the machines, samples were taken of 14 machines, making sure the counts were accurate.

The reason for the test is so that voters like Lea Henderson and her husband can feel confident in the election process. They want to ensure their votes count, and that’s why they were dropping them off downtown.

“I just feel more secure bringing it in,” Henderson said.

Officials also checked the machines that tabulate the vote-by-mail ballots.

“We call it our pre-audit,” said Supervisor of Elections Mike Hogan. “And we want to make sure the public understands that we are concerned as much about accuracy as they are, so we do this in public.”

There were members of the public on hand — not many, but Carmen Martinez, who heads up an elections watch group, was there.

“I feel pretty confident that everything that goes on here is above board. I am not sure the election in total is above board in Florida. I think there is the possibility of election fraud with a mail-in ballots,” Martinez said.

City Council member Joyce Morgan is on the election canvassing board, which oversees election integrity. She knows there is a lot of concern.

“We are already dotting our i’s, crossing our t’s, making sure that we keep our voters in mind, and that we keep the security and the sanctity of this election on our minds,” Morgan said.

The test proved to be successful. There were no problems, and that has not always been the case in the past — and when that happens, it lets elections official know that checks and balances are in place to catch problems.

Election workers debuted a new touchscreen voting system earlier this year in February for the special City Council election.

The Duval County Supervisor of Elections Office said the new machines are designed to help voters with special needs.

As of Friday morning, there were 647,311 registered voters in Duval County.

  • 259,974 are registered as Democrats
  • 227,574 are registered as Republicans
  • 147,541 registered with no party affiliation

Florida is a closed primary election state, which means only voters affiliated with a party and registered can cast a ballot.

But any registered voter can cast a ballot in the special election for Jacksonville sheriff because it’s a unitary election.

About the Authors:

Jim Piggott is the reporter to count on when it comes to city government and how it will affect the community.