Thursday, February 07, 2008

Lee Nelson's Response To Phyllis Busansky's Candidacy

Lee Nelson released a statement to Pushing Rope on Phyllis Busansky's announcement she is running for Hillsborough County Supervisor of Elections.


Hillsborough County Democrats have a choice this year on who they think can best "Buddy" Johnson and restore the competency that is required in our Supervisor of Elections Office. I know that I am the most qualified candidate to accomplish both of these tasks and we can be best served by an open and candid discussion about what we need our next SOE to possess, not only to get elected, but to perform the responsibilities of the position. If the voters really ask themselves what they want their SOE to do for them, they will see that I am the most qualified to reach their expectations. I have spent a lot of time during my candidacy, talking with people about this position, the problems we have seen in the SOE office, and the things they would like to see changed.

Administering and overseeing the activities of the SOE office, which primarily center on three activities: registering voters, administering elections, and providing candidate services, demands that the SOE not only be competent in the business and process end of these activities, but also understands the inner workings of the technological tools used to get the job done right.

Do you have confidence in the machines that record your votes? Of course you don't. We've been fooled time and time again with legislation from Washington or Tallahassee that mandates the manufacturer and the type of equipment we need here in Hillsborough. This upcoming primary we will be switching to an optical scanner system. Does this instill any more confidence in the voting process? Despite the added protection of a paper trail, the legislation didn't go far enough to demand rigorous testing of the actual machine that tabulates the votes. Fooled again. We know Buddy is part of the problem - is Phyllis your best option for ending this vicious cycle of 'problematic solutions' replaced by more 'problematic solutions'? This is what I hope Democratic voters ask when they go to the polls on primary day (August 26).

There are best business practices for acquiring and accepting new technologies into process (such as voting) and they all start with having confidence in the technology itself. What needs to happen is the machines need to be tested (1) by the Supervisor of Elections. If the code (software) on the machines is protected because of contractual agreements with the vendors or wacky legislation, then I will use black box testing methodologies. This testing will be entirely open to the public and if the machines pass, we can all have real faith in the system that is central to our Democracy. But if the machines fail, I will identify the best path to get us all out of this bind. Options include, taking the manufacturers to court, challenging the laws that protect the code, or acquiring systems that do what they are supposed to do. This isn't really rocket science here, we've been voting in this country for over 200 years. 1+1+1… doesn't confuse computers nor does it require proprietary code. This has to happen – we are talking about OUR right to vote. If your SOE doesn't do it, the state and federal legislatures that receive PAC money from the voting machine manufactures sure won't do it.

I'm a project manager for a software development team and work at the Verizon Tech Center in Temple Terrace. We have a team of over 150 people and our typical release size is 140,000 hours worth of development. I have an undergraduate degree from Rochester Institute of Technology in Management Information Systems and received my MBA in October of last year. With over 10 years of managing people and projects, and implementing technology changes within organizations, I will restore competency to the Supervisor of Elections office.

The Supervisor of Elections post should be unbiased and non-partisan but that is not the way the system is set up. Simply because this is a partisan race, being closely aligned with a 'Democratic establishment' doesn't make a candidate more credentialed. The SOE has to protect EVERY voter's rights. It's not about electing people for the sake of getting them elected, I think it's about getting people elected because they can do the job correctly

-Lee Nelson

Democrat Candidate for Supervisor of Elections, Hillsborough County

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