Miami-Dade Legislative Item
File Number: 042768
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File Number: 042768 File Type: Resolution Status: Failed
Version: 0 Reference: Control: County Commission
File Name: MONITOR 11-2-04 GENERAL ELECTION Introduced: 9/30/2004
Requester: NONE Cost: Final Action: 10/19/2004
Agenda Date: 10/19/2004 Agenda Item Number: 10A8
Notes: Title: RESOLUTION REQUESTING MONITORING FOR THE NOVEMBER 2, 2004 GENERAL ELECTION [SEE AGENDA ITEM NO. 11B4]
Indexes: ELECTIONS
  MONITORING
Sponsors: Betty T. Ferguson, Prime Sponsor
  Dr. Barbara Carey-Shuler, Co-Sponsor
  Sally A. Heyman, Co-Sponsor
Sunset Provision: No Effective Date: Expiration Date:
Registered Lobbyist: None Listed


Legislative History

Acting Body Date Agenda Item Action Sent To Due Date Returned Pass/Fail

Board of County Commissioners 10/19/2004 10A8 Adopted F
REPORT: Ms. Constance Kaplan, Supervisor of Elections, noted this supplemental item was based on the recommendation made at the Elections Sub-Committee meeting for the possibility of having the International Foundation for Elections Systems (IFES) organization perform the assessment, activation, and evaluation of the County’s elections operations. Commissioner Seijas questioned the language in Agenda Item 10A8 requesting a group be hired to assess, activate, and evaluate the elections process, with the election only 15 days away, and that ample reports, briefings, and analyses be provided to the Elections Department to ensure a successful election. She noted she failed to see the value in approving this resolution and spoke in opposition to this item. Commissioner Sosa asked how an outside entity could assure voters that every vote was counted. She recommended the money targeted to fund this contract be used to purchase more laptops and other equipment to decrease the voter’s time in line. Commissioner Sosa also suggested the experts within the County be assigned to perform the assessment and evaluation tasks. In response to Commissioner Martinez’ question regarding whether the group had commenced working, Ms. Kaplan stated they had submitted a proposal. County Manager George Burgess advised that IFES had not begun working yet, pointing out that the first phase would begin approximately a week before November. In response to Commissioner Martinez’ inquiry whether IFES had recently performed similar elections monitoring services elsewhere in the United States, Ms. Kaplan commented that IFES had performed several international monitoring jobs. Commissioner Martinez remarked that his understanding was that IFES performed well in Venezuela; however, he questioned the ability for anyone to ensure that every vote counted. Ms. Kaplan explained that the Elections Department would verify that every vote counted through the testing performed prior to Election Day and continuous monitoring throughout the process on Election Day. She described the LNA process, which revealed that everything was set up and programmed accurately. Mr. Burgess stated that bringing in a group like this provided a level of comfort to the public that the process worked and would be transparent. He advised that with or without this group, the County was prepared to perform everything necessary to do the job right. Discussion ensued between Commissioner Martinez and staff regarding the extent of the IFES group’s participation in the election process. Assistant County Attorney Greenberg advised that the recommendation to hire this independent group resulted from staff's attempt to comply with the Commission's direction. Commissioner Martinez asked staff to confirm whether IFES was the same group that participated in the Venezuelan elections. Commissioner Ferguson emphasized that this entire effort was aimed at restoring confidence in the voting process, and noted she hoped her colleagues would continue working to that end. She further noted the Supervisor of Elections recommended this group in response to the initial conversation in the subcommittee meeting requesting that an independent group monitor the elections process and report back its analysis. Commissioner Ferguson stated the Elections Subcommittee accepted the Elections Supervisor's recommendation for this group. She noted that if the commission would rather not pay approximately $70,000 to hire this group, she would request a motion be made to allow the Voters Coalition the opportunity to name a local group to perform this task, free of charge. Commissioner Ferguson added that failure to pass this resolution would, in the same motion, authorize the Coalition to identify a free local group that would observe the elections process in whatever manner they deemed appropriate. Commissioner Moss concurred with Commissioner Seijas’ statement that the language “no committee review” implied this did not go to committee; rather went directly from the Election Subcommittee review to the Board. He spoke in support of this item. Commissioner Sorenson recognized Congressman Meek and invited him to speak before the Board. U.S. Congressman Kendrick Meek (D-FL), appeared before the Board and expressed his gratitude for the opportunity to speak before the Commission. He stated his purpose in attending today was to ensure he heard the concerns from within the Miami-Dade Community regarding democracy and the voting process. Congressman Meek addressed the issue of lengthy wait lines at many of the early voting sites and expressed his confidence in the County’s Election Department and Administration to remedy this situation quickly. He recommended the voting precinct hours be extended to keep polls open longer, rather than earlier, to accommodate the working public. He commended the County Manager and County staff for doing an excellent job making this a successful election year. Chairperson Carey-Shuler commended Ms. Kaplan and her staff for their fine works in creating this report, carrying out a great August 31st primary election and addressing the issues that challenged the voting process. She recapped the activities that resulted in this request for monitoring, and spoke in support of hiring an independent, non-governmental entity that was internationally recognized, to monitor this election process. Chairperson Carey-Shuler asked staff to provide her with information identifying whether the IFES Group was a non-partisan organization, and that this report also include the expertise and background information on each of the group’s members. Ms. Kaplan noted IFES operated as a non-partisan organization that received a large portion of its funding from the United States government, as well as other charitable trusts and foundations. She informed that its members were comprised of both political persuasions. Commissioner Diaz spoke in opposition to the foregoing resolution. There being no further questions or comments, the Board proceeded to vote on the motion to adopt Items 10A8 and 10A8 Supplement simultaneously.

County Attorney 9/30/2004 Assigned Murray A. Greenberg 9/30/2004

Legislative Text


TITLE
RESOLUTION REQUESTING MONITORING FOR THE NOVEMBER 2, 2004 GENERAL ELECTION

BODY
WHEREAS, this Board engaged the services of The Center for Democracy to monitor the November 2002 General Election; and
WHEREAS, this Board desires again to have an independent entity provide monitoring for the County's November 2004 General Election; and
WHEREAS, The Center for Democracy has merged into the International Foundation for Elections Systems ("IFES") and has retained Allen Weinstein, the former President of The Center for Democracy, as an active member of IFES; and
WHEREAS, IFES has monitored elections in the past and maintains contact with all political groups,
NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED BY THE BOARD OF COUNTY COMMISSIONERS OF MIAMI-DADE COUNTY, FLORIDA, that:
Section 1. This Board requests the County Manager, in conjunction with the County Attorney, to contact IFES to request its assistance in providing monitoring of the November 2, 2004 General Election.
Section 2. The County Manager provide IFES with an outline of requested activities and also request that Allen Weinstein, given his familiarity with Miami-Dade County elections, be designated by IFES as the Project Manager for election monitoring activities for the County.
Section 3. The Elections Department, to the extent permitted by law, extend to IFES full access to every aspect of the election process, including, inter alia, poll worker training, high level meetings, opening of poll locations, booting up of computers, turning off of computers, vote harvesting, and vote counting.
Section 4. The County Manager shall make every effort to bring back a contract between the County and IFES by this Board's October 19, 2004 meeting, and in the event IFES is not able to provide the requested services, the County Manager is directed, in conjunction with the County Attorney, to use its best efforts to find an alternative entity to provide election monitoring services.



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