Indian River County Supervisor of Elections candidate concerned over fold in absentee ballots

VERO BEACH, Fla. - Outside the Indian River County Courthouse in Vero Beach Wednesday afternoon, Sandi Harpring urged voters to reject their absentee ballots.

She says the crease on the Republican absentee ballot folds right over her Republican opponent's name, Leslie Swan. She's the current supervisor of elections.

Harpring says the optical scanning machines may misread the crease as a vote for Swan.

"At best, the formatting of the ballot by Leslie Swan reflects incompetence. At worst, it's an intentional act," Harpring said.

Harpring's campaign manager and husband, Jim Harpring, cited an issue that happened in a 2008 race in Palm Beach County. There, scanning machines misread creases as votes in a State House race. Several absentee ballots had to be hand counted that year, after they were registered as having multiple votes.

"No one would ever know that that was, in fact, not a vote that was cast. And that would result in fraudulent and unfair election results," said Jim Harpring.

Swan says it's impossible the scanners would read the crease as a vote or a double vote.

"It's absolutely ridiculous, and I think it's a campaign trick that she's trying to do," said Swan. "Never would we try to do anything that wasn't totally professional."

Swan says the machine is designed to reject double votes, forcing a hand count. She demonstrated why she says it's impossible, testing five unmarked ballots from three parties.
 
"It's going to show you that it doesn't tabulate any votes because they're blank ballots," said Swan.

All came back negative; they were recognized as blank ballots.

In the Supervisor of Elections warehouse on July 25, the office will test the ballot machines and about 500 ballots, including absentee ballots. The public event is called Logic & Accuracy Testing. Swan and Harpring both plan to be there.

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