Candidate for Polk County Supervisor of Elections

Debbie Hannifan – Candidate for Polk County Supervisor of Elections

Meet Debbie Hannifan:

A lifelong Imperial Polk Countian, I was born and raised in Lakeland and spent summers in Lake Wales on the lakes near Camp Mack. I attended public schools and graduated from Lake Gibson High School in 1988. Go Braves! (although I had many friends from Lakeland and Kathleen too). After graduation, I attended Polk Community College, and then on to University of South Florida, while holding down full time jobs; finally earning my bachelors in 1999.

Also during that time, I married my soulmate Jay Hannifan in 1992. We then added our twin sons, Nathan and Noah, to our family in 2001 through adoption. Over the past 28 years of marriage it has been our greatest blessing and privilege to raise our two wonderful young men who are now 21 years old!

There have been many jobs across my career and resulting in a diverse and robust spectrum of experience. I’ve been employed by businesses large and small, family owned and corporate, local and international. I’ve worked for minimum wage, earned six figures and everything in between. As a licensed Realtor, I am now a small business owner. Regardless of the job, I was chosen to work in areas with high demands with high expectations. Exceeding those expectations and then documenting those outcomes is what I became known for and what I do best!

My passion for community organizing grew while attending, and on to then facilitating an advocacy training program called Partners in Policy-making. I worked for seven years training citizens on how to advocate and partner with policy makers for legislation and funding. I mastered special education law and put it to use advocating for students with disabilities while collaborating with public school systems. This work was not only very rewarding but also reignited my love for our Constitution and the framework that our founders provided to keep government “of the people, by the people, for the people.”

After joining the non-partisan education movement called The Abigail Adams Project, I attended numerous training’s about grassroots advocacy, precinct organizing, candidate education, and get out the vote initiatives. Putting my training into action, over the past 15 years I have worked seven election cycles for many candidates in a variety of roles from federal to local races. With each election cycle, I have continued to learn and grow in leadership roles.

When not on the campaign trail, you’ll find me out and about across Polk County running with my friends! I’ve completed four full marathons, over thirty half-marathons, and countless 5k, 10k, & 15ks over the past ten years.

When I’m not running, I enjoy spending time with my family in my butterfly garden, at Disney, or on a cruise! We’ve also worked very hard over the past 15 years renovating our home built in 1916 in the historic area Lake Morton in Downtown Lakeland. Jay and I have earned several awards including Historic Preservation Award and City of Lakeland’s Residential Beautification Award.

Link to candidate’s official campaign website:


The freedom and right to vote is one of our most sacred liberties, and with it, comes great responsibility. Our freedom comes at a cost which has been paid by those who fought and died to protect our Constitutional Republic. As the “informed electorate”, we have the awesome responsibility of selecting our future leaders by casting our ballots to help shape our communities, state, and nation. Your vote ensures that our government is “of the people, by the people, for the people.”

With over 450,000 registered voters, Polk County is the 10th largest county of Florida’s 67 counties. And with 17 municipalities, our Polk County Supervisor of Elections’ office and staff must work diligently all year, every year, to prepare, support, and execute the election needs of our large county.

The charge of Supervisor of Elections holds many important duties. Among them are maintaining and safeguarding our county voting systems. This includes ensuring unequivocal accuracy of voter rolls, voter equipment, and election results. These are the standards set forth by the elections laws laid out in Chapter 97 – 106 of Florida Statues. These are minimum standards required by law but I believe that we can do better!

With proper planning, such as pre-election analysis and post-election evaluations, we can improve upon the experience of every voter in Polk County. Voter convenience is a top priority of this campaign and given the opportunity, we believe it will directly result in a more informed and participatory electorate.


At a minimum, prediction analysis should done to provide a forecast of voter turnout in preparation for allocation of resources. Post election evaluations would reveal what is working and what needs improvement in all areas including Early Voting, Vote By Mail, and Election Day Operations. This in-depth strategic planning will allow proper allocation of resources including equipment, ballot materials, and staff for all 167 precincts in Polk County.

Acquiring convenient and accessible early voting sites and election day polling locations are critical, but the overall operations of the elections process are even more essential to ensuring fair and accurate results of the voting electorate. This includes the accuracy of voter rolls, functional voting equipment, highly trained poll workers, and a sufficient number of ballots and voting materials to ensure the fidelity of the elections process.

There are currently over 450,000 registered voters residing in Polk County with anticipated significant growth expected. This is going to demand an efficient and organized plan to accommodate those additional voters.

As we all know, there are enemies, both domestic and abroad, that would love nothing more than to disrupt our elections process, thereby weakening our Constitutional Republic. Checks and balances should be in place to ensure our department’s self-sufficiency in the ability to carry out the elections process and to protect against threats to that process.

But perhaps our greatest threat is not having your voice heard at the polls. Almost everything that we do is affected by the people elected to office. Policymakers create laws and regulations that govern our everyday lives. By having access to information and then doing research about candidates and issues, you can vote for and help elect the individuals that you believe will serve you best. Elected officials work for the people who have elected them.

It’s a new decade and we should expect more from our elections official. We need new leadership. We need a fresh perspective. We need to provide the education and information that will make people want to participate. We need efficient, fair, and accurate elections. We need to protect the integrity of the vote!

It would my greatest honor to serve as your next Supervisor of Elections. I hope to earn your vote on August 18, 2020!