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Supervisor of Elections hires David Arreola’s campaign manager as Information Specialist

BY JENNIFER CABRERA

ALACHUA COUNTY, FL – The recent hiring of mayoral candidate David Arreola’s former campaign manager by the Alachua County Supervisor of Elections Office raises questions about whether it is appropriate for someone who was recently employed by an active campaign to be directly involved in management of the voter database and the process of counting ballots.

Dillon Boatner, who was paid $1,500 as Arreola’s campaign manager on February 7, $750 on March 14, and $750 on April 12, was hired May 16 as Elections Information Specialist (and Public Records Custodian) for the Supervisor of Elections office. Along with payments for Campaign Manager services, Boatner was also designated as Arreola’s campaign treasurer in a document filed on December 30, 2021. Arreola designated himself as his campaign treasurer in a form filed on April 22, 2022.

According to the posting for the job, the role at the Supervisor of Elections Office is responsible for a variety of data analysis and processing tasks and also assists with designing the printed ballot and programming the voter database for each election; assists with ballot coordination, tabulation, and voter check-in equipment testing; assists with programming Election Day and Early Voting activators for electronic poll books; assists in running vote-by-mail ballots through the high-speed scanners during Canvassing Board Meetings and recount elections; uploads live results into the program on election night; and manages and supports staffs’ computers and external devices. 

Required skills for the role include knowledge of applicable election law requirements and knowledge of data gathering and reporting techniques; minimum qualifications include a degree in computer science or a directly related field or equivalent experience.

Alachua Chronicle received a copy of Boatner’s application for the job through a public records request, and we sent some questions to Boatner, who declined to answer any of the questions and instead referred them to Supervisor of Elections Kim Barton.

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The address Boatner listed on his application is the same as the address Arreola used in his early campaign documents, including his Oath of Office (his most recent document uses the address of a storage facility), so we asked whether Boatner is a housemate of Arreola’s. As with our other questions, Boatner declined to answer, and Barton replied, “I do not ask any of my employees what their living situation is.”

Boatner also declined to answer our question about when he resigned as Arreola’s campaign manager. Barton similarly declined to give us a date and instead replied, “Before he started in my office, I told him that I knew he had done data work for campaigns and if he was currently assisting with any campaigns, that he informs them immediately that he has accepted a position with my office and can no longer publicly or privately work on their campaign.”

We asked for clarification about Boatner’s education because his application (see below) says both that he did not graduate and “Degree Received: Bachelor’s.” Barton said the premise of our question was incorrect and added, “I went back and reviewed Dillon’s application. He indicated on his application that he had ‘some college’ and on the question, did you graduate?, he indicated NO. Dillon does not have a college degree; however, he has completed 110 out of 120 credits required for a bachelor’s degree in Political Science from the University of Florida and this was indicated on his application. Not having a bachelor’s degree is similar to the previous employees that held this position. They did not have a bachelor’s degree either but had experience which made them a valuable member of our team.”

We asked about Boatner’s qualifications related to computer science, and Barton replied, “Dillon has years of experience in the field of data science, a specialization within the field of computer science.  Specifically, he practiced data science concerning elections during his time researching with the Elections Sciences Working Group at UF, and as a data manager at America Votes.”

We also asked about Boatner’s qualifications or experience with managing and supporting staffs’ computers and external devices, and Barton wrote, “My office contracts with the County IT department to handle most of the office’s IT needs. Dillon’s background provides sufficient experience to assist the chief deputy in performing the routine IT support needs.”

Finally, we asked Barton whether she sees a conflict of interest between Boatner’s work with a campaign that will be on the August 23 ballot and his duties in being directly involved in the process of counting those ballots. Barton said she did not because “Dillon Boatner has no decision-making authority as to when or what ballots are to be canvassed.”

Barton went on to explain that Vote by Mail Ballots are accepted or rejected only by the Alachua County Canvassing Board, and all meetings are open to the public. The 2022 Alachua County Canvassing Board consists of Judge Thomas Jaworski, who serves as the Chair of the board, Alachua County Commissioner Charles Chestnut IV, and Barton. Alternates on the board consist of Alachua County Court Judges Susan Miller-Jones and Kristine Van Vorst and former County Commissioners Penny Wheat and Mike Byerly. 

Barton further explained that “Dillon will be assisting and working side-by-side with Chief Deputy Carl Delesdernier under the direction of the Alachua Canvassing Board Members. I also would like to add that at each canvassing board meeting, a county attorney will be assisting the canvassing board as well if any procedural questions arise.”

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