BRADENTON -- Manatee elections officials Friday fed great piles of test ballots through their electronic tabulating machines to ensure accuracy for the upcoming general election.
In the clean, cool rooms of the elections office, the tabulating machines whirred to life, spitting out results on paper tape.
Manatee County Supervisor of Elections Bob Sweat checked each one carefully and signed the bottom of each tape to show the system had worked properly.
"We're testing the equipment, making sure it's in
working order," Sweat explained at the start of the public process known as "logic and accuracy" testing.
"We test every possible scenario," said Nancy Bignell, assistant supervisor of elections.
Observing the operation was David R. Drury, bureau chief of the state Division of Elections Bureau of Voting Systems Certification, who will review similar operations in 50 other counties before election day, he said.
"I'm not sure if he just doesn't trust us, or he just wanted to get out of Tallahassee," joked Sweat.
Also observing were members of the county's Canvassing Board, Anna Maria City Clerk Alice Baird and Manatee County Court Judge Robert Farrance.
An interested party who may be conducting the testing himself next year was state Sen. Mike Bennett, R-Bradenton, the Republican nominee for supervisor of elections.
If he is elected Nov. 6, Bennett will take over the operation from Sweat, who plans to retire after the election with 28 years as supervisor.
Bennett noted that he had been voting since he was 21, but never realized the complexity of actually counting the votes.
"There's so many things you don't see," he said.
Also running for supervisor are Democrat Charles Williams and write-in candidate Rodney "Smokey" Smithley.
Sara Kennedy, Herald reporter, can be reached at 941-745-7031. Follow her on Twitter @sarawrites.com.