A Message from Alan Hays
Lake County's Supervisor of Elections
In today’s world of 24-hour news cycles, social media, and the ever-present rumor mill, many false statements are being made about the actions of elections administrators and processes. People who have absolutely NO experience whatsoever in elections administration are making and have made statements that are patently false. Many other statements that are misleading and only partially true have undermined the confidence of the voters unfairly. It is our hope that by reading the following FACTS, you will know the truth about elections administered in Florida.
1. In 2000, the Florida elections community was the laughingstock of the world. In the 2018, 2020, and 2022 elections, Florida was the model for the nation in successful elections administration.
2. This status of being the nation’s model occurred only by the diligent work of many Supervisors of Elections (SOE) and their devoted teams. In cooperation with the Legislature and the Secretary of State, the elections professionals of Florida rose to the challenge and excelled.
3. The Supervisor of Elections and the team of workers are regulated very closely by Florida Statutes and rules promulgated by the Division of Elections in Tallahassee. Most of the work we do is dictated by those statutes and rules.
4. All votes cast in Florida are on paper ballots. Those ballots are retained for 22 months after each election then shredded.
5. All counties must use electronic tabulation systems that have been certified by the Bureau of Standards of the Division of Elections in Tallahassee. NONE of the tabulation machines are ever connected to the internet.
6. The election night transmission of UNOFFICIAL results to the SOE offices does NOT use the internet. That data is transmitted via a system that resembles an interstate highway with no exits and no entry ramps.
7. The tabulation data is stored on memory sticks that are returned to the SOE office on election night. That data is downloaded the next day and compared to the transmitted data of the previous evening to confirm its accuracy.
8. Many counties, (Lake is one) have a separate verification system into which every voted ballot is scanned. The totals of this second system are compared with those of the tabulation system. This enables us to audit the entire election instead of the previous practice of auditing only one contest in a few precincts.
9. There are three well-proven ways to vote in Florida: Vote-by-Mail (VBM), Early Voting in person, and Election Day in person.
10. Each of those are significantly controlled by Florida statute. The SOE does have some control of the number of days and the hours of Early Voting but everything else is by statute.
11. Vote-by-Mail ballots are mailed ONLY to those voters who have requested to receive one. EVERY returned ballot MUST be in a separate envelope and the envelope must be signed by the voter whose name is printed on the envelope.
12. EVERY envelope signature is checked by trained personnel to validate the signature on the envelope compared to the signature on file in that voter’s record.
13. If the envelope signature does not match the signature on file, the voter is notified of the issue and informed of the process and the deadline to rectify the problem.
14. Each person requesting a VBM ballot has an opportunity to enroll in the BallotTrax program that notifies them quickly if there is an issue with their signature. In addition to the signature notification, the same system notifies the voter when the ballot has been mailed, when it has been received by our office, and when the ballot is counted.
15. The selection of the polling sites for Early Voting and Election Day voting is again, controlled by statute. Each site must meet specific criteria. We are allowed only one Early Voting site that is not owned by a governmental agency.
16. No voted ballots are ever left in a polling site overnight. Every voted ballot is returned to our office that evening.
17. Those ballots are under a strict chain of custody record and are always carried by at least two people.
18. Transparency and accountability are standard operating procedures for our team. In the design of our building, we intentionally placed in the internal walls, more than 144 square feet of windows so people can observe the actions in each room. This is supplemented with video feeds of various ballot processes (ballot opening, duplication, adjudication, and storage).
19. Our website has offered tours of our building two days each week for the last 5 years.
20. We have invested significantly more than $100,000 into enhanced cybersecurity measures and all our systems are monitored at all times.
21. All staff members undergo background checks, are engaged in continual training, and are encouraged to pursue professional development.
These are the FACTS. I and my staff are proud to serve our community as elections professionals. Please feel welcome to contact my office should you have questions or to schedule a facility tour. We want you to have confidence in us and in the elections processes. Thank you for the priviledge of serving as your Supervisor of Elections.