Lee Co. elections supervisor asks for new polling system

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FORT MYERS, Fla.- WINK News is investigating possible government waste in Southwest Florida.

Lee County Elections Supervisor Sharon Harrington wants $820,000 to buy a new polling system. But, she also has $300,000 worth of unused, unopened machines collecting dust.

Harrington confirms she has three high-speed vote counters in crates at the elections center in south Fort Myers. She says Lee County got a good deal two years ago to buy the machines, but they’ve never been unpacked.

“It’s not a snafu when you plan ahead, and you are trying to save the county some money,” said Harrington.

Now, there’s a problem. The tabulators are not compatible with the machines that are used for people with disabilities. Harrington is asking for more money to buy a new system to serve those with disabilities. The federal government will require this type of system by 2020.

“I have to look out for my voters,” said Harrington.

County commissioners are not reacting kindly.

“My main concern is every vote counts, but every dollar counts too,” said commissioner Cecil Pendergrass.

“Before we buy new equipment, we have to make sure that the equipment we buy works with the equipment we already have,” said commisioner Brian Hamman.

Meanwhile, some taxpayers are confounded.

Resident Jerry Chlipala says, “$800,000 a pop? That’s quite a bit to be spending every two years. If it would improve the system and get more people out to vote, then it might be worth it.”

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