Howdy.

I'm an engineer who likes to volunteer in my local elections. And as an employee of Broward County, I can volunteer in places that others cannot. Anyone can volunteer to work as a Voter systems Tech (VST), AKA Ballot scanner dude, or a poll worker or a poll watcher, but (tragically?) thanks to the recount, I got to volunteer to be an alternate for the Canvasing board that's in charge of certifying the county's votes, and got to wake up at 5 AM to get to the Supervisors of Elections office at 6 AM this morning to do the hand recount.

PLEASE NOTE THAT I DO NOT CLAIM TO SPEAK AS AN OFFICIAL REPRESENTATIVE OF BROWARD COUNTY OR THE BROWARD COUNTY SUPERVISOR OF ELECTIONS OFFICE. ALL OF MY THOUGHTS AND STATEMENTS ARE MINE AND MINE ALONE. IF ANY OF MY EMPLOYERS ARE READING THIS, PLEASE DON'T FIRE ME. <3

Here are a bunch of photos of my adventures. Note phones were strictly forbidden inside the hand recount. So I don't have any pics of the actual counting.

As someone on the ground, in the middle of all this, I'd like to defend SOME OF the actions taken by BC SOE and provide some clear explanations of the insanely illogical conspiracy theories perpetuated by the genuine mistakes taken by some of the volunteers and SOE employees.

Any who... Ask away!

Edit1: as of 5 PM ET, I'm still here, answering slowly. Please be patient. It's just me on a laptop. Whatever happened to that AMA helper lady?

Edit2: as of 6:15 PM ET, I'm eating some dinner. I'll be back. in an hour or less. I promise.

Edit3: as of 6:40 PM ET, I've finished eating and am back live. I'm doing the best I can to answer all questions as thoroughly as possible So please be patient and I'll get to as many as I can as quickly as I can.

Edit4: as of 11:00 PM ET Nov 17th, I will be stopping for the night. Thanks to everyone who asked questions. I hope I answered them to your satisfaction. If I didn't, I hope you can find it in your heart to forgive me. I will try to answer as many questions as I can over the next week or so, slowly. I probably won't keep editing every time I hop on and off. Too much of a pain, and I like redditing just as much as you all do.

Also, if any of you really truly believe that there's been nefarious action taken by BC's Supervisor of Elections Office or any other SOE office, I STRONGLY urge you to volunteer yourself as a poll worker or a poll watcher or whatever equivalent is available in your district. If you can't trust anyone besides yourself, then become the trustworthy one and shine a light on any corruption you see.

Goodnight everyone, and please go see my new movie RAMPART!!!

Comments: 1628 • Responses: 87  • Date: 

mattisfinn1893 karma

So uh. What the fuck?

aerlenbach678 karma

That's a great question. A lot of it is genuine, unintentional human error, while everyone wants to blow any mistake out of proportion, mixed with the only time a state-wide race has gone to a recount in like...a decade or 2, but instead we got THREE races going to recount. It's a perfect storm of insanity.

I can give you more specifics if you have any specific questions, though.

nimbleTrumpagator728 karma

This is the most uninformative, governmental non answer I could have expected.

I totally believe you.

aerlenbach68 karma

Thx m8

ajcadoo78 karma

Dear god this AMA could go down worse than Bill Nye’s...

aerlenbach7 karma

I’m trying my best.

ScaredBuffalo154 karma

As someone who worked as a Broward VST, the training is shit. The whole system is bad, I've seen high school students running as VSTs for service hours.

I also worked the election as a Broward VST when we had those terrible electronic voting machines where you had to insert the cartridges for people. It's not the voter who is screwing up, I'll tell you that...

aerlenbach25 karma

The peb? Yeah that sucked. I was stoked when we got rid of that. But I’ve worked 4 elections and not once did someone use the electronic voting machine.

JonSolo1147 karma

So, in short, you're all completely incompetent morons who can't properly run a fair election like 99.9% of the country?

ThickBehemoth126 karma

Genuine, unintentional human error

The word they were looking for is incompetence

aerlenbach122 karma

You said it, not me.

See that, boss? I never called us incompetent. Not once!

spacefox00671 karma

How on Earth does Brenda Snipes still have a job there after what she did in 2016 to Tim Canova? An absolute disaster.

Edit: Was not really expecting this to climb much less get an answer. If any officials in Broward/SOE happen to see this, I would simply urge you to ask yourselves if your actions are benefitting or harming democracy in Florida and consequently your country as a whole.

aerlenbach234 karma

That question is very good. I, unfortunately, do not have an absolute answer to that. If I were to speculate, it's because it's difficult for constituents to remove an SOE from office, and that most people like DWS in this district (can't tell you why). So the people that were most upset about it were too small in number with too little power to do anything about it.

arthursaurus_lentils219 karma

Do you think electronically voting is a good or bad idea?

aerlenbach653 karma

Terrible terrible idea. Paper ballots are the only way to legitimately know with absolute certainty that a vote has been cast. We have redundant safeguards to make sure no paper ballot has been filled out unless it's absolutely supposed to be. Paper trails all the way.

wesgarrison140 karma

14 years as a election worker with electronic machines. We just started using new ones that print out a voter verifiable ballot. So, you get the benefits of “hey you can’t overmark and you forgot this race” while still having a paper trails.

Thanks for doing this AMA, it has been fascinating.

aerlenbach64 karma

Oh snap! Where’s that? That’s really interesting.

wesgarrison53 karma

Johnson County, KS. Our primary tabulation made national news for being horribly slow, but our November elections was awesomely boring.

How many voters did your location process? We did 1000 plus 200 provisional and another 100 or so people that wandered in to get help on where to go.

aerlenbach4 karma

My particular precinct had about 500 people come in on Election Day. I’m not sure what the average numbers are, I’d have to look it up.

sanxuary204 karma

This may be a difficult question to answer, but it was alluded to in your statement above; what are some of the problems from your perspective that you will not defend?

aerlenbach217 karma

Well things that I don't know enough information about and things that Im absolutely against *cough2016augustprimaryDWSfuckerycough*

edit: What I mean was what /u/PoliticalScienceGrad posted about the Debbie Wasserman Schultz 2016 primary election. I can't speak to that. I know the same amount of information as y'all, and yes, I think it's pretty suspicious.

it_helper156 karma

Do you personally think the higher ups involved in the voting process on the county level have all acted ethically and followed the law throughout the entire ballot counting process?

aerlenbach117 karma

I do. I think you can act as ethically as possible and still people will try to question your intentions. I think all of the mistakes made were just that. It's much easier to explain things by mistake than conspiracy. I think the conspiracy theories are all based on not really understanding how things operate.

And if you or anyone else TRULY believe otherwise, I vehemently implore you to volunteer in your own SOE office, or get a job there, or run for supervisor, or get involved in another way. If you think there's something nefarious about, get involved and find out for sure.

Yugiah152 karma

What problems have you seen at your level that you think could be solved?

aerlenbach156 karma

That's a good question....

I'd say we need an update to the manual when it comes to people snooping in the window when we're doing our job putting the ballots away, which caused a big scandal whenone of the volunteers told those people to bugger off

My precinct had a volunteer who was openly talking about politics to a (very uncomfortable and annoyed) other volunteer. We had to send him home early.

My precinct ran pretty smoothly otherwise. the little voting booths are kind of old and some types of them are really annoying to put together & don't have lights. I'd like them all to be the better, easier to assemble version with a preinstalled light. But no one wants to shell out 4, 5, 6, 7 figures to buy equipment that only gets used every other year.

We should probably tweak our ballot design to put a big "START VOTING HERE" text block to prevent that mysterious case of undervotes for the governors race.

Edit:

Since several people had more questions about the fist link, I'll add it here. This Davie conspiracy is just insane. I worked the election & bagged up ballots for my presinct. Probably those poll workers were sketched out by randoms videoing them so they put it up to give them privacy while they did their job. If any of those people were preregistered poll watchers, then they should have been inside.

I read FL 101.131 & FL 104.29. I am not a lawyer, but my guess is these people didn’t explain their intentions before they began filming. If they had registered as poll watchers, there wouldn't have been a problem and they'd be welcome inside to watch. If they had explained what they were doing before they started filming, they might have let them inside. Probably not, because we're not legally required to. And we're not legally required to let them snoop through the windows.

Do I think this video looks bad on BC Elections? Yes. Do I think it's evidence of fraud? Hell to the No.

I think it's an oversight in the rules, and I'll absolutely bring it up next time I'm in training.

And I urge every single one of you reading this to volunteer for your county SOE office so you can be the first line of defense against voter fraud, like, I was.

ArcticLarmer107 karma

Why is it that Florida needs to spend 5-7 figures on equipment when many other countries worldwide seem to have absolutely valid uncontentious elections using pencil and paper ballots?

Isn’t the entire system there needlessly over complicated?

aerlenbach78 karma

We use paper ballots and pens in BC.

We also have to scan millions of ballots for 5 to 50 races for hundreds of different precincts, all with different individual races, county-wide races, state-wide races, and nation-wide races. Each precinct has ~10 voting booths, 2-5 ballot scanning machines, 2-4 voter roll checking machines, signage, stickers, ballots, etc.

Any overcomplicating that exists in the system is likely there intentionally to provide security through obscurity and redundancy. And Broward County alone has a bigger population than several countries.

Is it overcomplicated? Probably. Is it "needlessly overcomplicated?" I don't believe it is.

recommendmeapodcast44 karma

people snooping in the window when we're doing our job putting the ballots away

Can you explain why this is a bad thing?

Blunt1nstrument30 karma

Because that makes it harder to commit fraud?

aerlenbach18 karma

I worked the election & bagged up ballots for my precinct, doing exactly what those people were doing. Though we did try to not leave any ballots on the floor. But some people are better at their jobs than others.

Probably those poll workers were sketched out by randoms videoing them so they put it up to give them privacy while they did their job. If any of those people were preregistered poll watchers, then they should have been inside.

I read FL 101.131 & FL 104.29. I am not a lawyer, but my guess is these people didn’t explain their intentions before they began filming. If they had registered as poll watchers, there wouldn't have been a problem and they'd be welcome inside to watch. If they had explained what they were doing before they started filming, they might have let them inside. Probably not, because we're not legally required to. And we're not legally required to let them snoop through the windows.

Do I think this video looks bad on BC Elections? Yes. Do I think it's evidence of fraud? Hell to the No.

I think it's an oversight in the rules, and I'll absolutely bring it up next time I'm in training.

And I urge every single one of you reading this to volunteer for your county SOE office so you can be the first line of defense against voter fraud, like, I was.

aerlenbach21 karma

I think those pollwokers were just sketched out by them. I explained more in the edit of my original comment.

Bishmuda-16 karma

How about you do your fucking job correctly and with some class. All your answers seem like someone trying to cover up the corruption in your county.

LambchopsTheMemestar150 karma

So in all seriousness what the fuck do they put in the water in Broward County?

aerlenbach138 karma

giroux28_114 karma

How does a computer mess up counting 18K votes or whatever the margin is, twice, and why on the 3rd recount do people expect a magic 18K in favor of Nelson to appear?

Seriously, if it did happen, wouldn’t that be worse for our confidence in elections? Means computers are clearly wrong by large numbers.

Armani_Chode43 karma

The 25k undervote? The ballot starts in the left hand column of the page after a big list of instructions. Starting with the Federal offices. US Senate, then US Congress. The governor's race was in the next column over at the top of the page.

In one particular area of Broward County their US Congressman was running unopposed. That section was left blank. People didn't see the US Senate race because they didn't read the instructions. Saw a big blank spot at the bottom of the ballot and just started filing out their ballot at the top of the next column.

It could be a calibration error where the machines aren't picking up the marked selection, but it seems doubtful at this point.

aerlenbach39 karma

I met someone from Washington who says their ballots have big block letters saying "START VOTING HERE" on the bottom of the first column. We should definitely implement that in the next ballot design. Cause that undervote thing is really absurd.

I think there will be a few Anthropology theses about this.

aerlenbach14 karma

What /u/Armani_Chode said.

How does a machine make mistakes? I dunno. I ain't no computer wiz. And you're right that I'd be more concerned if there were more computer mistakes, which it appears there hasn't been AFAIK.

abnruby93 karma

I live in Broward, so howdy, neighbor! I have a question;

Why were there polling places inside of gated communities, and when it became clear that those communities weren't going to allow people without government ID to enter, why in God's name weren't they moved?

ETA (The provided explanation for this was outrageous, Snipes indicated that those communities had "declined" to allow people without ID in to vote and that they had to worry about the safety of the residents. Which is fine, but the right to vote trumps their right to HOA requirements, also there shouldn't be polling places there to begin with, we have more than enough public buildings)

ETA2 You wanna answer? I think it's a fair question.

aerlenbach40 karma

Why were there polling places inside of gated communities, and when it became clear that those communities weren't going to allow people without government ID to enter, why in God's name weren't they moved?

I haven't heard about polling places being in gated communities before this AMA. That's definitely not cool.

The optimist in me says they'll have it worked out by next election cycle and they'll thoroughly review all of the complaints so the system can run smoother.

Decisions like these are far above my pay grade.

I wish I could give you a more satisfying answer.

Johnson_N_B76 karma

Why does this take so long?

aerlenbach82 karma

I would rather democracy be slow, cumbersome, and thorough than move fast and break things. It's designed to be this slow so we (theoretically) don't make any mistakes.

Johnson_N_B131 karma

Most other counties in Florida didn't seem to have an issue with their recounts.

aerlenbach81 karma

That's true. But we had 6 or 7 races to recount, and we're the second-most populous county. I How did Miami-Dade finish so quickly? That's the better question. Maybe they've got better machines than us.

heyheydashing36 karma

Yeah but democracy being slow in 2000 meant some people’s voices not being heard because of a supreme court ruling. Democracy is always slow, but slow isn’t always democratic.

aerlenbach20 karma

That's really good point. I thought what the Supreme Court did in 2000 was an absolute travesty. But I was also like 8.

JonSolo134 karma

Well, you guys moved slow and still broke things, so there's that... (Two minutes late? Are you fucking kidding me? That's blatantly and insultingly deliberate running out of the clock).

aerlenbach33 karma

From what I've heard, they were literally submitting it as the clock struck 3 PM. As in, it was en-route and finished transmitting at 3:02. That deadline was arbitrary, and if not accepting the results had affected the outcome of any of the races, there would have been lawsuits and injunctions up the wazoo.

tangoechoalphatango51 karma

Who, or what organization, specifically requested you make this AMA today?

aerlenbach50 karma

No one, and none. I just felt like it.

Bekiala40 karma

The incoming gratitude for your volunteer work is a bit underwhelming here. Thanks for volunteering in what must have been a difficult situation. I hope others who think they can do a good job will step up and volunteer in the next election. (counting a zillion little dots for hours would make me foam at the mouth and run in circles screaming. I'll be on pizza and coffee runs)

aerlenbach25 karma

I got paid for everything I did for SOE. I didn't have to do it, but it's for the betterment of democracy.

counting a zillion little dots for hours would make me foam at the mouth and run in circles screaming

That's not exactly how hand counting works. We count everything by machine, and it spits out the "undervotes" and "overrates". We, the humans, are all spread out at 100 tables , two county employees and 1-4 watchers who can object to our decisions (either no vote for anyone, vote for Republican candidate, or vote for Democrat candidate.) if we're not all absolutely certain, we put it in the 4th bin to get decided by the Canvassing Board. Each envelope has 1-30ish ballots, separated out by the precinct, and if it was early voting, vote by mail, or election day voting.

Once everything's been sorted into "Republican", "Democrat", and "No Vote," then (I assume) they just run the ballots through the machine to count how many are in each column and add them to the totals.

Bekiala6 karma

Thanks for this description and apologies for me managing to forget you were an employee not a volunteer by the time I got around to commenting . . . . hmmm . . . yet another instance of human error. Ugh.

aerlenbach6 karma

Just let the robots vote!

MorphineBear49 karma

What kind of engineer are you?

aerlenbach61 karma

Environmental. 😄

Nate_TeamBST37 karma

When are we getting Earth 2? Will it have Bluetooth and Apple Pay?

aerlenbach9 karma

And free ponies for everyone

Fratboy_Slim37 karma

From the answers so far definitely not an electrical, computer, or software.

aerlenbach16 karma

Serious question: Why you say that?

_OxxO_47 karma

what political affiliation are you and what drove you to be so involved in the electoral process of your area?

aerlenbach44 karma

My answer would make one half of people think none of my responses are credible, regardless of what that answer is.

But I'm a registered Democrat. When I work the election, party doesn't matter. Fair & transparent processes matter.

Obesibas-3 karma

Odd that he didn't answer this one. Almost as if his answer would be damning.

madaboutglue9 karma

Or maybe he didn't want to invite a bunch of negative comments from partisan trolls?

aerlenbach7 karma

that and the whole thread on this comment is way more entertaining than any answer I could give.

aerlenbach2 karma

He's a libertarian! BURN HIM WITH FIRE!!!!!

DeathPony0732 karma

Why wasn't Brenda Snipes fired a long time ago?

aerlenbach14 karma

I wish I could tell you. I really do.

mangagirl0730 karma

You allude to some mistakes that were made. Moving forward, and just based on your opinion as a volunteer, what's one thing that could or should be changed for the 2020 elections to run more smoothly?

aerlenbach84 karma

Put a big block of text on the ballot that says "START VOTING HERE" so people don't inadvertently skip races by not reading to the bottom of the first column.

Some think the ballot scanning machines used on election day should notify the voter if they've skipped any race (like, say, the senate race). That's an interesting idea in theory. But would absolutely make the process longer because of how often people skip voting in races. Instead, we should probably specify when handing the ballot to the voter that there's a race or two in the first column of the first page.

Also, they should probably make it easier for voters know if they had signature problems with their vote by mail. I met a woman from Oregon (or was it Washington...) that says their vote by mail envelopes tell you to put a phone number or email to contact the voter in case there's a problem. We should definitely do that.

petitbleu24 karma

I'm in Oregon. I was able to sign up to receive text messages about the status of my ballot. When it was received, I got a text. When it was accepted and counted I got another text.

aerlenbach13 karma

Yeah we need that. That’s a great idea.

jotadeo11 karma

Some think the ballot scanning machines used on election day should notify the voter if they've skipped any race (like, say, the senate race). That's an interesting idea in theory. But would absolutely make the process longer because of how often people skip voting in races. Instead, we should probably specify when handing the ballot to the voter that there's a race or two in the first column of the first page.

Easy to fix; just add a null-vote option, perhaps worded something like, "I decline to vote in this race."

aerlenbach9 karma

Easy fix. But this election had 50 things on it. They might not be game to play 20 questions after filling out a 5-7 page ballot.

mitch_mccormick24 karma

Its pieces of paper, how hard is it to count some black dots to find out which person totaled more black dots?

aerlenbach66 karma

5-7 pages, 45+ races, millions of voters, hundreds of precincts, plenty of voters who don't know how to fill in a scantron properly, and lots of minutia to oversee it all. Democracy is better when it's slow and thorough.

ruinevil9 karma

Wait.... multiple pages? Not one large page? Is that state wide?

aerlenbach31 karma

We had 45 races/questions on the ballot for my precinct. more or less the same for the whole county. And they have to be in 3 languages: English, Spanish, and Creole. Can't fit that on one long page unless it's a scroll.

22Doves18 karma

Do you think that this is a good precedent to set for our country that the handling and management of the voting process is inherently flawed and your response is to only answer softball questions?

aerlenbach33 karma

I'm answering as fast as I can. It's just me on my laptop. 🙁

I'm going by top to bottom and reloading once I finish. Please be patient. Also, as I said, I'm not claiming to be an official representative of Broward County.

Also, I don't think it's "inherently flawed." I think it's got lots of flaws and when the media circus and conspiracy nuts shine a million lights and focus a million magnifying glasses on the system, then they'll of course find flaws and mistakes. No system is perfect. We're trying the best we can here.

If you have more specific questions, I'll happily answer them.

kirkbadaz17 karma

Have you previously worked on elections in BC? Are the delays with ballots normal? Why is BC so slow. At providing results? Can you detail any training or what the management organisation was around the election? The issues that have occured, were they forseen?

aerlenbach32 karma

Have you previously worked on elections in BC? Are the delays with ballots normal? Why is BC so slow. At providing results?

I've been a VST for 4 elections now. primary and general 2016, & primary and general 2018.

I can't say for certain why we're slower than say, miami dade at completing our recounts. Maybe because we also had 3 local races go into recount, so reshuffling all our ballots for those races had to take time too. That's hard for me to answer since the people who know for sure are a few notches higher than me.

Can you detail any training or what the management organisation was around the election?

Every volunteer for election day needs to take a training class before each election, even if you've done it a million times, you've still got to take a refresher training. The refresher courses are like 4 hours (faster if you do your work right and quickly) and I think the initial courses are a little longer. I don't recall exactly.

Every precinct has 5 or so people. Mine had a Clerk (the boss), a deputy who keeps the peace outside and prevents the sign wavers from getting too close, 3 or more poll workers who take your ID, verify you're on the rolls, give you a piece of paper, send you to another line where you give that paper to another poll worker who gives you your ballot. You go do your vote thang, then come to the Voter Systems Tech, who helps you scan the ballot into the ballot scanner machine. And then we give you the sticker, which is the real reason why anyone votes, as we all know.

I can go into more detail about it if you'd like

The issues that have occured, were they forseen?

No one could have foreseen this number of recounts. that's extremely bizarre and rare. You'd have to be specific about which issue you mean, for me to answer more specifically.

willofgood16 karma

Why would anyone at this point trust Florida’s voting systems? How can trust be restored? When will voting in Florida be legit?

aerlenbach11 karma

That's a tough question to answer. I think the only way to improve trust is to demonstrate that all of the identified problems have been resolved, that more volunteers work more diligently, that there's a change in leadership hopefully..., and that over time, we have boring old elections without any big controversies, thus people stop caring and we can all go back to normal.

PurpleHooloovoo15 karma

What's the protesting situation? Is it tough to get to the facility each day? Have they beefed up security with all the media attention and the recent craziness of Florida?

Thanks for doing this!

aerlenbach25 karma

I saw some protestors. There were maybe 60 at the most that i've seen, but there could have been a lot more. There was a very large half-circle barrier outside that prevents the press and protestors from squishing up against the door, which I heard happened initially when we all saw what was gonna happen, so there's plenty of room to get inside, show ID, go in, go through metal detector, done.

The security is tight. Lots of cops, which I'm totally fine with given the circumstances.

repohg12 karma

What can be done at this point to ensure all votes are counted?

aerlenbach33 karma

They should probably make it easier for voters know if they had signature problems with their vote by mail. I met a woman from Oregon (or was it Washington...) that says their vote by mail envelopes tell you to put a phone number or email to contact the voter in case there's a problem. We should definitely do that.

Runnereve11 karma

[deleted]

aerlenbach5 karma

They're both wrong. It was those damn /r/Libertarian crazy folk!

Or was it /r/ENLIGHTENEDCENTRISM....

aerlenbach5 karma

in all seriousness, I think (at least in Broward County) that there's been no nefarious manipulation after election day by anyone. I thought not taking the Machine recount results because BC was 2 minutes late was pretty messed up. So one could argue that's Republican Rick Scott's government making that decision. But that's speculation.

If you've got specific conspiracy theories you'd like me to answer, I'll happily do so.

Aquanker11 karma

Hey man, almost everyone seems to be pretty rude in this ama. Not sure if they're a lot of plants or just people who legitimately can't conceive of volunteers acting in a way that is ethical in an electoral process.

Good on you for doing this in an attempt to offer transparency.

Question! Since you're an engineer, I figured I'd ask for your thoughts on a blockchain based ballot system from a cultural stand point. What are some of the vibes on a purely electronic system? Would people be open to consideration? Do you figure it would be tremendously expensive to install?

Thanks!

aerlenbach3 karma

Thank you for your kind words.

I hope all of the people who perpetuate the baseless conspiracies will volunteer themselves. If they don't trust these volunteers, then they should volunteer and be the accountable, trustable ones that supposedly don't exist currently.

What are some of the vibes on a purely electronic system? Would people be open to consideration?

I do not trust any paperless system. Maybe in 30 years, I'll be seen as a Luddite. But in the meantime, paper ballots are the only way to maintain a trusted system. And even now no one seems to trust it. Making it less tangible and more confusing to the layperson will likely only make the conspiracy theories grow.

Do you figure it would be tremendously expensive to install?

I don't know a whole lot about blockchain. I do know that a complete revamp of a system will be extremely costly no matter what type of system is implemented. And if it ain't broke, why fix it?

Calvertorius9 karma

What’s the most interesting thing that you’ve engineered?

aerlenbach21 karma

In college I built a functional anaerobic digester to turn food scraps from the dining hall into methane gas. It was pretty small scale but it was a concept that I had hoped to be the foundation for a bigger one, but then I had to graduate and get a real job.

JKeg5557 karma

Fellow Broward County citizen here.

Were there any specific locations or towns disclosed to the public that messed up the voting process that required the re count? Or was it the entire county altogether in many different locations? Not sure exactly how this worked but I’m interested.

aerlenbach13 karma

The recount was required because of how close the races were. Not because of any errors in the counting process. When a race has less than a 0.5% difference, there's an automatic machine recount state-wide. That was completed at 3 PM Thursday. If there's a race that's less than 0.25% different, then there's an automatic hand recount, which really means we hand count the ballots that have undervotes/overvotes.

There were 100 tables of counters, two county employees and 1-4 watchers who can object to our decisions (either no vote for anyone, vote for Republican candidate, or vote for Democrat candidate.) if we're not all absolutely certain, we put it in the 4th bin to get decided by the Canvassing Board. Each envelope has 1-30ish ballots, separated out by the precinct, and if it was early voting, vote by mail, or election day voting.

Zamidah7 karma

Did you see or notice anything strange?

aerlenbach16 karma

All of the strangeness I saw happened on Twitter.

gum_foil6 karma

As far as Broward County govt. goes, I can vouch for the fact that it's probably not corruption, just incompetency. Like where I worked, a lawyer accused us of hiding records one time, and I laughed because we couldn't coordinate to hide those records if we had tried - they had just been lost over the last 60 years like a lot of other stuff. Incompentency, not corruption. The county commissioners can't even get rid of the people who are openly, in broad daylight. dealing crack across the street from them. Ive seen the commissioners looking down at them from their windows. Why would we expect them to be able to handle counting?

aerlenbach6 karma

People don’t seem to realize that most governments can’t conspire to tie their shoes.

Florida has one of the strongest transparency laws in the country, if they did something nefarious, I trust the media will find it.

ShambolicPaul6 karma

Can you comment on the box of provisional ballots found in a rental car at the airport? That's like... Illegal.

aerlenbach3 karma

Here's a copy/paste from a similar comment...

The containers left in the rental car did not have any cast ballots in it. The only ballots in the containers were unused provisional ballots. We don't store ballots in big grey containers labeled "provisional ballots". We use those containers before the election to store documents and election supplies needed for election day. On election day, it's emptied, ziptied, and used to store any provisional ballots filled out on election day.

Once the polls have closed, we open the box back up, put any used ballots into their own specially labeled bag, and put the bag into a specially labeled blue bag where we also keep all the other ballots. That big blue container is then repacked with supplies. The big blue bag is taken off by the clerk, and the grey container, along with other election supplies, is picked up by other people. The containers left in the rental van and left in the school were two accidents. No filled in ballots were in those containers.

meat_trumpet5 karma

Did my absentee ballot get counted or what?

aerlenbach5 karma

Excellent question. You can go online at your SOE website, look up your information, and it should say “tabulated” which means that it has, indeed, been counted.

For BC, go here.

heyhowmuchfun5 karma

Do you enjoy counting votes - are you allowed to socialize with other counters? How do you think that the process could be more efficient, without compromising the results of the election?

aerlenbach13 karma

For the recount? It was pretty boring. We didn't have our phones, but the fellow county employee next to me was a coworker I liked, so that was nice. We chit chatted with the other county people and the watchers when we didn't have ballots to sort.

I think it was as efficient as can be. There were 100 tables of counters, two county employees and 1-4 watchers who can object to our decisions (either no vote for anyone, vote for Republican candidate, or vote for Democrat candidate.) if we're not all absolutely certain, we put it in the 4th bin to get decided by the Canvassing Board. Each envelope has 1-30ish ballots, separated out by the precinct, and if it was early voting, vote by mail, or election day voting.

SubtleKarasu5 karma

How often do you think broken protocol occurs? How angry do you get when things like arbitrary recount deadlines lead to people's votes being thrown in the trash?

aerlenbach16 karma

The ballots don't get thrown in the trash. They're just not used in the machine recount. I think Tallahassee not counting our machine counts because we missed it by 2 minutes is pretty messed up. I hope whoever decided to bee that strict won't have the ability to make that decision next time.

johnchapel5 karma

How do you sleep at night knowing you willfully subvert democracy?

aerlenbach2 karma

https://yourlogicalfallacyis.com/loaded-question

I sleep pretty great.

We all tried to be as thorough as possible to prevent any subversion of democracy. If you see anything suspicious at your precinct, I urge you to call the Supervisor of Elections office, or if you don't trust them, call the non-emergency line of the police.

Furthermore, if you really truly believe that there's been nefarious action taken by BC's Supervisor of Elections Office or any other SOE office, I STRONGLY urge you to volunteer yourself as a poll worker or a poll watcher or whatever equivalent is available in your district. If you can't trust anyone besides yourself, then become the trustworthy one and shine a light on any corruption you see.

epicenter695 karma

My question concerns signature verification. Are human beings really verifying every signature on ballots? Are they just on absentee ballots? I live in Lake County, FL, and I digitally signed when I received my ballot, but never signed on paper.

aerlenbach5 karma

That's a good question.

In Broward County, when voters go to vote in person, they have to provide photo ID, and sign a digital signature pad. If after signing the signature pad the poll worker finds there is a significant difference in the voter's signature and the ID presented, the poll worker will:

  1. inform the voter that they're required to complete a Voter Registration Application (signature update)
  2. print a Voting Pass and a "REPRiNT" Voting Pass with the voter's updated signature
  3. circle ballot style, party, and precinct on both Voting Passes
  4. staple the REPRINT to the Voter Registration Form
  5. direct the voter to the Clerk to complete the form and vote a REGULAR BALLOT

For vote-by-mail problems, they're presumably supposed to notify the voter that theres a problem with the signature and give them a change to correct the issue.

WhakaWhakaWhaka4 karma

  1. Are you hearing anything in the works for preventing this problem in the future?
  2. Why live in Florida?

aerlenbach8 karma

1: Specific changes to prevent the identified problems, no i don't.

2: Born here. Schooled here. Colleged here. Family here. Job here. Friends here. Stuff here.

WhakaWhakaWhaka7 karma

Thanks for the answers.

It seems like you are doing a lot for your area, keep up the good work and I hope it works out.

aerlenbach7 karma

Thx m8!

kitikitish4 karma

What's for dinner?

aerlenbach3 karma

I had Chinese food. It was pretty good. Had mushrooms in it, which I didn't much care for.

Thanks for asking!

-ROOFY-3 karma

Wow, this seems to be turning into another Rampart.....

Anyways, my main question is with absentee and late ballots. Not necessarily just in Florida, but nationwide. It seems like when a race is close, there's a sudden worry about counting these late, mail-in and absentee ballots. Why weren't these ballots counted already? If there is worry about counting these ballots, specifically the absentee and mail-in ones, does that mean that they otherwise wouldn't have been counted?

aerlenbach4 karma

I mean, did we ever try to give him a change and just ask him about Rampart?

It seems like when a race is close, there's a sudden worry about counting these late, mail-in and absentee ballots. Why weren't these ballots counted already?

I don't know for certain, but my guess is they don't want to have to do unnecessary work. Most of the time, the mail-in ballots are so few in number that no matter who they voted for, it will have zero mathematical impact on any of the races. So why count em?

parishiIt0n2 karma

Is the Lindbergh baby gonna be found in broward anytime soon?

aerlenbach3 karma

We just found Jimmy Hoffa!

brodymulligan2 karma

What happens to spoilt ballots?

aerlenbach9 karma

On election day, we give them a new ballot and write "SPOILED" on the ruined ones. When doing the counting in the SOE building, they separate out the under/over votes and only get counted if there's a hand recount.

I'm not sure if I've fully answered your question.

40CakesBad2 karma

How many of my dead relative's ballots did you "find" that voted for Gillum?

aerlenbach17 karma

Zero.

adamtola2 karma

There's a lot being made of legitimate votes gone missing during the recount. What is the probable explanations for this? Should this be as surprising to us as it is?

aerlenbach9 karma

Here's the news article about that.

Fortunately I didn't have to be one of the suckers to scour the building looking for those ballots. I dunno. Good question that I wish I could answer.

TheWorldIsAGame1 karma

Did you witness any fraud potentially happening? if you had to choose live or die, did they commit voter fraud?

aerlenbach7 karma

No and no.

Occam's razor. Mistake & human error can explain a lot more than fraud. Gun to my head, I haven't seen anything to suggest there's been any funny business going down.

lurking_digger1 karma

Hello, thank you for your time!

Did they keep ballots from 2000 election?

aerlenbach1 karma

Great question. I dunno. I snooped around a little when i had downtime during the recount and saw forms from back to like 2012. So maybe. If I find out for sure, I'll let you know.

My guess is, probably not.

[deleted]-7 karma

[deleted]

Ted_E_Bear5 karma

How and why would he know that?

aerlenbach-1 karma

HE'S BRENDA SNIPES' ACE IN THE HOLE TO SWING THE ELECTION! SOMEONE CALL FOX!!!!!!!