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Pounding out the dents in democracy

As if last year’s blow to Sarasota’s election integrity — found in the August 15th 2006 letter from ES&S (Election Systems & Software) that was received but not disclosed to the public by the local Office of Elections — wasn’t enough, this year we have an entire Senate race missing from the absentee ballots mailed to some Sarasota County voters. Even though the number of erroneous ballots was relatively small and action was taken to rectify the situation, this recent blunder by Kathy Dent’s office — which again, was not made public by that office — rips the scab off the wound of the 2006 Jennings/Buchanan voting scandal.

The 2006 ES&S letter warned of problems that could delay the recording of votes, resulting — at the very least — in voter confusion at the polls. By choosing to not disclose this letter to the public — by not informing the public of possible voting machine malfunction in the days leading up to the most contentious race in recent local history — Kathy Dent left a dent of her own … in our democratic process.

And what about her unfathomable decision to NOT post the polling booth posters recommended by ES&S to warn the public of potential problems they might encounter when using the faulty voting machines?

And then what about the Office of Election’s inexplicable silence that offered no word of the ES&S letter in the months following the massive election snafu that left 18,000 votes unaccounted for? – despite the loud and urgent outcry for any relevant information that might help make sense of the situation?

Even if the problem warned of by ES&S was not the cause of the undervote, why hide or ignore the fact that the letter existed?

Every decision along the way, Dent left her mark — a series of dents in the democratic process. Get too many dents and dings in a car and everybody views it as a lemon — they don’t want to buy something that looks like it’s falling apart, like it’s unreliable, like it can’t be trusted to convey you half-way across the street, much less carry you safely and surely all the way to Election 2008.

But now here we are again, two years later, more mistakes and poor judgment, and Dent is running for her office again.

I’ve driven enough clunkers in my lifetime to know there’s only one way to get rid of a dent — you pound it out. Fortunately, here in Sarasota, we’ve got another option to get rid of the Dent in our democracy — we can vote her out.

Um, that is, if we’re lucky and the voting machines don’t go all 2006 on us again.

I recommend a vote for Barry Sullivan — Democrat — for Supervisor of Elections.

Posted on October 31st, 2008Comments RSS Feed
4 Responses to Pounding out the dents in democracy
  1. John W. Perkins
    October 31, 2008 at 9:41 am

    “Dent left her mark — a series of dents in the democratic process.”


  2. As usual, Mary Catherine, you’re instints are right on target. Being a state bureaucrat for over two decades – and proud of it – may I offer three observations:

    1. Governmental bureaucracies, even more than the private sector ones, should be transparent. Unfortunately, this means that the people running them believe in open government. I have found that “citizen friendly” is often an oxymoron.

    2. Bureaucracies of any sort, public or private, seem to be loath to admit their mistakes. I don’t know why, but that seems to be the case. See the Catholic Church and the various rougue priests, or your example of Sarasota, to name two.

    3. Bureaucracies are run by human beings, and most people I know are FAR from perfect.

    You can’t do much about number 3, but if good people are running the bureaucracy, there can be more than just marginal change to numbers 1 and 2.

    Keep up the good writing!

  3. Being held hostage in a Blue State
    November 1, 2008 at 8:41 am

    If your candidate wins I’m sure your complaints will go the way of the dinosaur. It does not surprise me that you yet again endorse a Democrat for office.

    Yesterday in sunny Sarasota where the self righteous Democrats roam; Obama contended you are selfish to not want to pay taxes. Initially it was Biden calling that action un-Patriotic. Now Biden stated that individuals making $150,000 are middle class, Bill Richardson of NewMexico rumored to have a place in Obamas cabinet defined middle class as $120,000…………….. keep drinking that Kool-Aid After all it’s just JOE the VP candidate

    Personally I do believe it may be just a tad early to be selecting a chief of staff especially Ron Emanuell…… Keep drinking………..

  4. “Ballot Incident Reinforces Need For Change”
    My reason for writing is in response to a recent article in the Pelican Press regarding Sarasota County Supervisor of Elections Kathy Dent’s barring of Democratic Party observers from the elections office. Kathy Dent’s explanation was, “We have ballots everywhere, we have no place to put the observers and we can’t have them just roaming around asking questions of the staff.”
    First, I would like to point out to Ms. Dent that the reason you have an overwhelming number of absentee ballots in the first place is because there are thousands of residents out there who have not exactly liked the way you have conducted your past elections.
    Secondly, I would like to say to Ms. Dent, try stacking the absentee ballots and make room for the observers. If you need help to tidy up your office, I would gladly offer my services to help you get organized.
    One of the reasons we have a record number of citizens voting by absentee ballot is largely due to the fact that Ms. Dent has done nothing but offered resistance to organizations such as the Sarasota Alliance for Fair Elections – S.A.F.E. – and Kindra Kuntz’s plight to make certain that all votes are counted correctly and accurately. Ms. Dent also went on to say during the petition drive to get a Voter Verified Paper Ballot referendum on the ballot that residents were “coerced” to sign the petition. Ms. Dent, I visited some of the petition drive locations, and Ms. Dent, your accusations are so exaggerated.
    Also, I would like to know why Ms. Dent has done nothing but resist every attempt by organizations to get safe, accurate, voting back in the elections. Ms. Dent, you must remember that not only are elections important to the democracy of this great country, it’s also safe to say that the way one conducts the election process and the way votes are tabulated are equally as important.
    This is why we are in so much need of change in the way our elections are conducted in Sarasota County. And I am very proud to say the best candidate for the position of supervisor of elections, one who listens to the residents of this great county and will ensure he will do everything within his power that every vote will be counted is Democratic nominee Barry Sullivan. Barry will conduct himself with the highest degree of professionalism, and, Ms. Dent, you have not been very professional in the way you have conducted yourself.
    Debbie Zumbro


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