You hear lingering questions about the election like, “How could Barack Obama win 100 percent of the vote in dozens of precincts in Cleveland?” and “How could St. Lucie County have 140 percent voter turnout?”
I can’t help you with the Cleveland question, but I’ll take a shot at the one about St. Lucie County.
The St. Lucie County Supervisor of Elections website features prominently at the top of its results page the following information: “Registered voters 175,554 — Cards cast 247,383 140.92%” That would appear to show that more people voted in St. Lucie County than are registered to vote. How could that happen?
The term “cards cast” refers to the number of sheets of paper put through the tabulating machine. St. Lucie County had a four-page ballot consisting of two sheets of paper printed on both sides.
The number of ballots cast in the presidential race in the county was 123,750, a 70 percent turnout and almost exactly half of the “cards cast” number. The difference can be explained in people who cared only about races on the first two pages of the ballot, not bothering to turn in the second sheet of paper to be read by the scanner.
There are problems with the St. Lucie County vote as evidenced by the ongoing recounts of absentee ballots and the dispatch of officials with the secretary of state’s office to oversee the process. St. Lucie County, you will recall, is where U.S. Rep. Allen West refuses to concede defeat to his Democratic challenger, insisting on a recount.
But the 140 percent isn’t part of that dispute.
St Lucie County uses different voting machines from those used in Collier and most other counties in Florida, according to Collier elections qualifying officer Dave Carpenter.
The Collier software shows ballots cast, not bothering to highlight the number of pages fed through the scanner.
By placing the largely irrelevant “cards cast” at the top of its elections results Web page, St. Lucie County has fueled a flame of discontent that really needs no stoking.
Sometimes, an idea makes too much sense to work.
The beach at Lowdermilk Park and at the Naples Beach Hotel and Golf Club needs sand. Doctors Pass, about a mile away has too much sand in it.
The solution, according to Naples City Councilman Doug Finlay, would be to pump the sand out of Doctors Pass onto the beach where it is needed.
But that’s not what is going to happen.
Instead, dump trucks from Immokalee and points beyond will make hundreds of trips through city streets during the holiday season to deposit sand near the Beach Club.
“The frustrating thing is we need sand at Lowdermilk and we have sand in Doctors Pass that’s a mile away and we can’t get the sand from Doctors Pass down to Lowdermilk.
“We have to truck it,” Finlay said at Wednesday’s City Council meeting.
Collier County’s Coastal Zone Management Director Gary McAlpin doesn’t think Doctor’s Pass is in need of dredging right now.
The beach needs sand more quickly than a dredging project could be implemented.
The next time Doctors Pass is dredged, there will be a more comprehensive approach taken, McAlpin promised.
There are a number of entities that have a hand in beach renourishment and pass dredging, including the Collier County Commission, the Naples City Council, the Tourist Development Council, the Coastal Advisory Committee and the Moorings Bay Taxing District.
In the past, coordination between them hasn’t always been ideal, but in the future, they will do better, he said.
“The next time we dredge Doctors Pass, we will modify the permit to return the sand placement immediately south of Doctors Pass.
“We will also request that the county be co-named on the permit so the Coastal Advisory Committee can be aware of what is happening and manage this area as a mini beach system and not an isolated event,” McAlpin wrote in response to questions.
Readers may write to Brent Batten at naplesnews.com/staff/ brent_batten