Supervisor of Elections: Alachua voting outage lasted 5 minutes or less

Early voting at Alachua County Supervisor of Elections Office
Photo by Taryn Ashby

Alachua County Supervisor of Elections Kim Barton said the Alachua City Commission election went smoothly on Tuesday. She said the Alachua County branch of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People’s (NAACP) concerns over “precinct mishaps and inoperable situation” were overblown. 

Though the city of Alachua ran its own election, it used the Alachua County Supervisor of Elections’ machines, and Barton said she wanted to clarify that the machines did not malfunction. 

The issue arose over the shutdown of voting machines at the Cleather Hathcock Sr. Community Center. Barton said the machines were operating from a surge protector which someone had accidentally bumped and turned off, causing an “Error: low battery” message to show on the screens. 

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As people cannot vote on machines displaying error messages, Barton said the election workers followed standard procedure to keep the polls running. 

“Many things can happen,” Barton said in a Friday phone interview, “but voting never stops.” 

While workers called the Supervisor of Elections to figure out how to fix the issue, five people voted, putting their ballots into the “emergency auxiliary box.” 

Within five minutes, Barton said her office had walked the workers through the issue over the phone, and the machines were fully operational again. 

Alachua County Supervisor of Elections Kim Barton.
Supervisor of Elections Kim Barton

While the other workers watched for accountability, one worker took each of the five ballots from the emergency auxiliary box and fed them into a machine. 

Barton said the temporary voting machine issue is nothing out of the ordinary, and election workers were initially excited by how smoothly the Alachua election had gone. 

The workers were packed up and out of the polling places by 7:30 p.m., but in the meantime, the NAACP had sent out a distressed press release. 

Alachua’s deputy city clerk could not be reached for comment, and the city’s public information officer has not responded to a request for comment. 

The workers woke the next day to see the NAACP’s complaints on the local news. 

Barton said she called all of the election workers to confirm the story and check in with them. They all explained the same circumstances and frustrations, and one cried. 

Barton said when events get blown out of proportion, it is discouraging and makes it more difficult to find election workers. 

“They are so upset,” Barton said. “They feel like their integrity is being called into question… and they poured their heart and soul into this.” 

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pat bartlett

Social media has taught us to do knee jerk reactions without personal investigation. Gently put, stop flying off the handle before you have the facts. Act responsibly!