With primary and general elections on tap later this year — and the recent completion of the municipal election — Pasco County Supervisor of Elections Brian Corley wants local residents to know their vote always counts.
His message: “Sleep well at night; we’ve got it covered.”
Corley was the featured speaker at the Republican Club of Central Pasco’s recent monthly meeting, where he spoke extensively about the reliability and security of the county’s voting system.
Corley, who’s served as the county’s elections supervisor since 2007, explained the elections office has been working closely with the FBI, Homeland Security, the Pasco County Sheriff’s Office and other agencies to vet any potential threats, particularly of the cyber variety.
Additional security precautions have been taken since the 2016 Presidential Election and measures are in place for “every possible scenario,” Corley said.
In a worst-case scenario — such as the PascoVotes website getting compromised — Corley explained the county’s elections office would have the ability to recreate the election. That’s because its headquarters has “multiple redundancies” to preserve the county’s voter registration database.
“If there was any kind of issue, there’s backups of the voter data,” the elections supervisor said.
Corley referenced a website called Norsecorp.com, which analyzes real-time cyber attempts to hack networks. To underscore the reinforced security of the county elections office, Corley made an analogy of would-be election hackers to a car thief attempting to unlock cars in a parking lot: “In our office, our doors are locked — and you can’t get to the car.”
Corley explained the Dade City-based elections service center “couldn’t be any more secure” should someone attempt to hack its internal servers, steal electronic poll books or other data.
The Category-5 hardened building is equipped with security cameras and multiple levels of physical access control systems, Corley said.
Furthermore, to even activate those voting machines or poll books, Corley said the elections office has multiple sets of unique passwords.
“You’d have to physically drive a Mack truck through the wall, and I don’t think a Mack truck can even get through that wall, to be honest,” he said.
Corley also said his office always conducts a post-election audit — physically counting ballots from a randomly selected race and a certain percentage of precincts, to be sure of factual results.
“We reconcile everything that we do,” Corley said. “We always have 100 percent accuracy,” Corley said.
The elections supervisor also addressed other voting-related matters, including voter fraud.
He acknowledged the existence of voter fraud in Florida and elsewhere, but doesn’t feel it’s as widespread as some believe.
“Respectfully, I don’t really think it’s as bad as the president says it was,” he said.
Corley suggested many fraud cases occur through voters registered in multiple states, such as Florida and New York. “When you vote in two states, that’s when it becomes problematic,” he said.
The dilemma may soon be alleviated once Florida and its 14 million voters officially join the Electronic Registration Information Center (ERIC), which is a nonpartisan, nonprofit consortium among 20 states and the District of Columbia. The consortium shares voter registration information to improve the accuracy and integrity of voter lists.
The consortium was designed to improve the integrity of voter rolls by matching millions of voter records from one state with those of other participating states. The data matches can identify voters that have registered in two states, voters that have moved between states, and those that have died.
“It’s an absolute no-brainer,” Corley said of the ERIC system. “We’re obviously very, very excited about that.”
Meanwhile, Corley shared some details about the upcoming Aug. 28 primary election.
He branded the one-page midterm ballot “very, very busy” with its Florida Constitution Revision Commission amendments, as well as several other state and county amendments.
“We’re going into a crazy midterm,” Corley said. “It’s like the election in 2016 never ended. It has that feel to it. It’s going to be a lengthy battle.”
He said the elections office is doing more to service absentee voters.
More voting days will be added to the schedule, and there will be three additional voting precincts — Pasco County Utilities building, in Land O’ Lakes; Alice Hall Community Center, in Zephyrhills; and Odessa Community Park, in Odessa.
With a population of nearly 500,000 and a voter registration roll of about 340,000, Pasco County is divided into 109 precincts.
Absentee or early voting accounted for about 60 percent of all votes cast in the 2016 election, Corley said.
“Early voting seems to kind of be the way to go,” he said. “We’re not expecting that to change.”
Published May 2, 2018