Victim of the Swamp

What Happened to Pasco’s Touchscreen Voting Machines, Kurt Browning?

Saving The Vote (Again)…

By Patrick Bergy

When I ran against Kurt Browning in 2004, I was quoted numerous times asking Kurt Browning to not spend nearly $7 million on touchscreen voting machines that taxpayers didn’t want. I told Kurt he should just buy optical scanning machines for a fraction of the cost for the touchscreen voting machines, and give the $6.5 million Pasco taxpayers would save towards laptops for Pasco’s students.

As Kurt Browning is now Pasco’s Superintendent of Schools, I wondered two things, what happened to our touchscreen voting machines; were they sent to recycling centers in Tampa like the millions of dollars other counties that listened to your advice and stripped for parts? Second question is wouldn’t you love that $7 million dollars for our students now that you’re the School Superintendent? If I was allowed a 3rd question for Mr. Browning, it would be to see if he wanted to apologize to me for all the things he said to scare voters from listening to me, which literally would have saved Pasco taxpayers about $6.5 million from conservative estimates I have seen. Not holding my breath, but wow, would that be cool!

Many of the voting machines you see in this video, likely ended up being shredded into tiny pieces of recycled plastic. What happened to Pasco’s touchscreen voting machines is my next question.

In 2004, I stood out in front of Publix Supermarket with my two daughters, and collected 2,312 petitions. This was to get my name on the ballot for Pasco Counties Supervisor of Elections. I advocated against touch screen voting machines, in favor of the less expensive, optical scanning voting machines. My opponent, Kurt Browning, advocated statewide in favor of touch screen voting machines.

The first main chapter in my book documents my run for office for Pasco County Supervisor of Elections. My opponent was elected for 6 previous terms as a Democrat for the Pasco County Election Supervisor, then switched parties mid term to a Republican. He also was the most staunch advocate for touch screen voting machines in Florida. I was likely one of the most staunchly opposed to touch screen voting machines in Florida, as was apparent in the above video. All of the voting machines you saw in this video sitting on the ground, unusable due to the power being out, were banned in Florida a short time later. Many were thrown into recycling machines and shredded, while salvageable parts were removed and sold for pennies on the dollar. Many, around $33 million statewide, were still being paid off by their respective counties, according to the Miami Herald.http://miamiherald.typepad.com/nakedpolitics/2007/10/state-elections.html

The order to have them destroyed, was given by my opponent, whom was the strongest advocate for touch screen voting machines in Florida. Shortly after defeating me in the election, my opponent, Kurt Browning, was tapped by Florida’s Governor Charlie Crist to become Florida’s Secretary of State. Shortly there after, Kurt Browning issued the statewide wide ban on the very machines he advocated so hard for, to “be disposed of.” Kurt, apparently offended by the voting machine companies offer to buy each of the $7,000 voting machines back for $1 a piece, didn’t go over well.  Few people knew the whole story, until now. My campaign advocated for optical scanning voting machines, the very machines Kurt replaced his touch screen voting machines with. As you can see in the article by the Saint Petersburg Times, it was my #1 issue.http://www.sptimes.com/2004/10/11/Pasco/Independent_candidate.shtml

**The link to the above article in the St. Petersburg Times was working in 2016 when this post was made, I think it was anyway? Not sure how I found it then if it wasn’t. The St. Petersburg Times has since deleted it. Wouldn’t want a picture of me holding a sign saying how the media is unfair to independent candidates. The title of the article was, “Independent Candidate Strives to be Heard”.  A Google Way Back Machine capture of the article is available here:

http://web.archive.org/web/20080410232009/http://www.sptimes.com/2004/10/11/Pasco/Independent_candidate.shtml

My #2 issue was in removing partisan politics from the election process. As you can see by the Times article, Kurt Browning had become a little “media darling,” I was given only one debate, which many think I won, and equal time was not even a consideration. It is difficult to understand how we just let this happen. Kurt is now the Pasco County School Superintendent. I can only assume this is because a 6 term failed Election Supervisor, responsible for a catastrophic waste of taxpayer dollars and the integrity of voting itself, is the obvious logical choice to oversee my children’s education, rather than a tenured teacher or professor.

The true crime in all of this should come from the fact counties across Florida hired, using taxpayer funds, the former Florida Secretary of State, Sandra Mortham, to advise them what systems they should use. One important part I feel they failed to tell Pasco voters, was that she was a paid lobbyist for the touch screen voting machine manufacturer, ES&S, that Kurt Browning ended up choosing. Many people wonder if Kurt Browning becoming Florida’s Secretary of State a short time later, was written into some “We Owe” section of a personal contract with Sandra Mortham, in the decision to chose ES&S voting machines for Pasco?  She left Florida’s Secretary of State position in 1999, and became a lobbyist for voting machine companies. Really, is this ok with anyone?

http://www.sptimes.com/2002/10/06/news_pf/State/Lobbyist_made_money_f.shtml 

**The above link was also deleted by the St. Petersburg Times showing how lobbyist’s were profiting from decisions made by people like Kurt Browning to purchase the touch screen voting machines Kurt Browning ended up shredding. I wonder why this article was removed. I understand the paper has changed hands many times. I see that in 2016 the times purchased the Tampa Tribune, which was a more conservative paper. From an IT perspective I see no reason why such valuable content for any publication would not at least archive these articles. Fortunately, Google’s Way-Back Machine has snapshots of the original articles. Here is a link to the article in Google’s Way-Back Machine:

http://web.archive.org/web/20081203192454/http://www.sptimes.com/2002/10/06/news_pf/State/Lobbyist_made_money_f.shtml

This is the full version of the original video. Most people get board with my Spielberg like use of the typewriter effects, so I cut a shorter version with just my visit to Fort Myers after the hurricane. The full version shows why I say Kurt Browning is pretty much solely responsible for $10’s of millions in taxpayer dollars being shredded.  

Although I state first and foremost that I have done the things I have done for my children and their future, the corruption I witnessed caused me so much concern, that I stood out in front of Publix and collected 2,312 petitions to get my name on the ballot with no political affiliation. In the book, I go into this in much more detail. This video, and a few other highlights, touch upon only a few of the issue I raised. Read the highlights of my book in this post, watch this video, and read the links to sources like the Miami Herald and Saint Petersburg Times. For those of you with children, are you – and our leaders – being the best examples to our children we can be? ​We need to show our children that we don’t just stand around and do nothing, when our democracy and freedoms are at risk. I say that to those with children, because I didn’t think like that before I had my first child, and I don’t think I am alone here.

Get my book, sit back, read it and then do something about it. Just as I say our leaders need to lead by example, or be made examples of, we, as parents, will be made examples of as well. Just look at the state of our school system here in Pasco as your second example. Wasting $millions of our taxpayer dollars with touch screen voting machines thrown into shredders was your first in my example. I was quoted publicly as stating we should use the money they were spending on touch screen voting machines, to buy laptops for our kids in school. $7 million here in Pasco alone would have bought a heck of a lot of laptops. The guy that opposed this idea, Kurt Browning, is now Pasco’s Superintendent of Schools. At the time, Kurt mocked me, but history (and my video) strongly demonstrates I was right. Remember that when you read my story about the relationship between politics, our government and the military industrial complex. I am right about this too, but on a seriously much larger scale, and far greater risk.
I recorded the video below and used it during my 04′ campaign to show this as just one of many reasons we shouldn’t purchase these untested systems that didn’t leave a paper trail.

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