Have you ever wondered what happens after elections are over? I am often asked what my office does during a non-election year. Election administration requires critical oversight. We continually prepare and train for a frequently changing, expanding, and evolving environment.
Comprehensive Budget Planning
The Lee County Supervisor of Elections Office consists of four branch offices, a warehouse, and 45 full-time employees. Each year, our office must prepare a budget for the fiscal year that begins October 1 and ends September 30. My staff and I begin the budget development process early in the year and conduct a detailed review of each office and department’s administrative and operational needs. By mid-May, we submit an organizational comprehensive budget plan to the Board of County Commissioners (BOCC), which will undergo multiple reviews and public hearings before approval by the BOCC.
During election years, the budget increases due to extra costs in conducting elections that necessitate additional expenditures. These costs can include hiring essential poll workers, temporary election support staff, printing, and postage for mailings, newspaper publishing of legal advertising, operating early voting sites and polling locations, enhanced cyber and physical security. The added expenses associated with managing elections play a critical role in election administration and operations and ensure that we can provide voters safe, secure, and transparent elections.
Voter Registration List Maintenance
In non-election years, every Florida Supervisor of Elections must conduct, in their county, a uniform, non-discriminatory biennial (every two years) list maintenance program. Performing list maintenance protects the integrity of the electoral process by ensuring the maintenance of accurate and current voter registration records in the statewide voter registration system.
Electronic Registration Information Center (ERIC)
The Electronic Registration Information Center (ERIC) is another list maintenance tool used to enhance the integrity of our voter rolls. ERIC member states share voter information across state lines to help identify dual registrations and deaths outside Florida. Currently, 31 member-states participate in ERIC.
Florida Certified Election Professionals (FCEP)
In this non-election year, we resumed our investment in election education training for staff in the Florida Certified Election Professionals Program (FCEP). I am proud to have eight members of my team graduate from the program! They are the first staff in the office to add Master Certified Election Professional (MFCEP) designation to their name.
New Legislation and Lawsuits
Election reform is a current topic in the news. During Florida’s 2021 legislative session, every Supervisors of Elections adamantly opposed many portions of the first version of Senate Bill 90. Fortunately, the passage of the bill’s final version dropped parts of the legislation that would be the most disenfranchising for voters.
Upon passage of Senate Bill 90, several organizations filed lawsuits against all 67 Florida Supervisors of Elections. The plaintiffs argued that the new legislation is designed to suppress many people’s ability to vote. As the lawsuits mount, we are often required to produce a significant volume of documents and respond to numerous questions concerning information requested in connection with the cases.
As we quickly approach the 2022 election cycle, my staff and I have an ongoing commitment to administering elections in Lee County. It is paramount to maintain the integrity of our elections in a safe, secure, transparent, and accurate manner while working toward civic engagement and increasing voter participation.