Voter Fraud? If they’re not catching the easy stuff, what else are they “missing”?
Are some of Florida’s Supervisors of Elections skirting the law? Supervisors are tasked with maintaining an accurate voter roll. One of the requirements on the Supervisors is to ensure that voters provide a legal residence address. Yet a December 2013 analysis shows more than 3,000 voter registrations statewide listing their residence address at a UPS store, potentially illegally.
Florida Law is clear and, with minor exception, requires that voter registrations listing other than an address of legal residence should not be accepted, because they are “ineligible” (F.S. 98.045 (1)(h)). This is considered so important, that it is a felony to willfully submit any false voter registration information (F.S.104.011(2)).
Accordingly, if these “ineligible” registrations are found to exist, Florida statutes also provide for their prompt correction or removal (F.S. 98.075(6) & (7)).
This correction or removal process is supposed to be enabled by Florida Law mandating that each Supervisor maintain a list of valid residential street addresses. This list is explicitly for the “purposes of verifying the legal addresses of voters residing in the supervisor’s county”, (F.S. 98.015(12)).
Yet, further review of this mandated list reveals that of the 3,000 UPS store registrations, more than:
A) 1,200 match addresses already known as commercial that were ignored,
B) 500 match addresses erroneously marked as residential,
C) and 1,100 have no match at all.
Unbelievably, even though our Supervisors are required to submit to the State their updates for their valid residential street address lists on a monthly basis, B & C above could be fixed by the trivial repair or addition of around 120 records.
This mandated list of valid residential street addresses, combined with the simplest of today’s computers, should enable every Supervisor to easily and routinely identify these “ineligible” registrations at the touch of a button. But, it seems actually finding that button is for too many of our Supervisors a step too far.
Now an optimist might think perhaps all these UPS store registrations occurred only recently, and we just need to allow enough time for the Supervisors to do their job. But that optimism would be naive. Because more than 2,300 of the more than 3,000 recently discovered UPS store registrations had the exact same UPS store listed as their residence at least 15 months prior.
Think about that. As we approached our 2012 General Election, Supervisors across our State, for the lack of 120 records and a button press, allowed at least 2,300 likely “ineligible”, potentially law-breaking registrations to remain on the rolls, ready to vote, potentially in the wrong precincts and races.
And vote they did. Approximately 800 of those 2,300 likely “ineligible” registrations voted in our 2012 General Election.
Even more condemning, since Federal Elections occur in even years, the Supervisors are required by law to perform their primary “list maintenance” during the odd years. Yet these 3,000 UPS store registrations were identified in December of 2013 as the Supervisors’ odd year voter roll efforts came to a close. So it’s pretty clear too many of our Supervisors aren’t nearly as effective in their jobs as one might hope.
On a brighter side, of the 67 counties in Florida, 38 were clean. And of the other 29 counties with UPS store registrations, 19 have promptly responded with “Thank-you”, and/or indicate they are following the law and promptly working on the issue. Another 7 counties required phone calls before responding with claims they were making progress.
But even though the Supervisors by law must “Notify the registered voter of his or her potential ineligibility by mail within 7 days after receipt of notice or information” (F.S. 98.075(7)), the remaining 3 counties after more than a month have either not responded at all to multiple requests, or are have only responded weakly. And these three offenders are some of Florida’s most populated counties: Broward, Orange and Hillsborough.
Broward county receives the “here’s your sign” award with fully 40% of the 3,000 potentially ineligible records, and simply responding they’re in process.
Orange County indicates, without explanation, they have sent zero letters to their 116 registrations.
And even though every one of their 117 registrations were from addresses already listed as commercial, and 83 of those have been that way for at least 2 full years, Hillsborough’s response via their County Attorney was to charge $58 for a Public Records Request to determine that zero letters had been sent out.
The Florida Division of Elections is aware of these findings and, under Governor Rick Scott, has shown an interest in following-up on and ensuring our Supervisors’ compliance with the law. But to ensure free and fair elections it clearly is the citizens who must demand all of our Supervisors go well beyond the bare minimum passiveness required by law.
Because all this nonsense leaves one to wonder: If some of our Supervisors lack sufficient skills or decency to catch the easy stuff, what else are they “missing”?
UPDATE: The following comments were received from:
Kathy Dent, Sarasota County Supervisor of Elections, “We immediately took action on the list supplied to us. Sarasota County appreciated the tip.”
I don’t know that I would necessarily characterize it as “skirting” the law, which implies duplicitous action on the part of SOEs. In Okaloosa County, like my counterparts I assume, we make every effort to keep abreast of new mail rooms as they crop up.
The real problem in this equation, typically, is HSMV. They do not have access to our street index and as such, “register” voters at whatever address they provide. We have to clean these up on the back end after those records are suspended to us from the State Central Voter System.
Likewise, voter registration forms processed at the State level suffer a similar fate.
We do find the new mail rooms as they come and go, and we do make every effort to clean up those records inadvertently registered there.