Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Why Are a Few Florida Supervisors of Elections Breaking the Law

Guest Post from local reader Gregg Prentice:

It’s now been 7 months since 29 of Florida’s 67 Supervisors of Elections were notified of their portion of 3,000+ voter registrations potentially illegally listing a UPS store as a legal residence. To their credit 13 of those Supervisors have cleared 100% of their registrations. But, there are 9 other Supervisors who have provided insufficient excuse for failing to do what the law clearly requires.

The counties with well below 50% success in 7 months are: Broward, Duval, Leon, Orange, Palm Beach, Sarasota, Seminole, St. Lucie, and Walton.

The problem here is not one of county size. Two of the largest counties, Miami-Dade & Hillsborough, had some of the fewest ineligible addresses, and are of the 13 counties that have cleared 100% of their UPS store registrations.

But because some of the biggest procrastinators are also Florida’s worse offenders, state-wide closure on the issue has embarrassingly stalled at only 26%. And it may get worse before it gets better. Because now, instead of shrinking their existing mess, these rogue counties have allowed 137 additional registrations listing a UPS store as a residence to be added to their voter roll.

These 137 new registrations indicate that these Supervisors are also still not obeying the law that requires them to maintain and use a list of valid residential street addresses for their county (F.S. 98.015(12)).

Makes you sort of curious what else they’re up to.

In addition at least 3 Supervisors have identified more than 5,000 additional registrations they consider as having listed an ineligible residence address. But instead of following the law to get these cleaned up, they’re allowing them to stay on the voter roll essentially indefinitely. They do assuringly indicate they’re hoping to not let these registrations vote until they provide a valid residential address, even though that approach failed in 2012.

Glaringly, none of the Supervisors have been able to point out an applicable statute or rule to support ignoring their legally required duty under F.S. 98.075(6) & (7).

One Supervisor’s office even claimed that since their staff found the ineligible residence addresses without outside help, that they weren’t required to follow that statute!

What’s your definition of the word “is”?

And what’s your Supervisor’s approach to these type registrations?

Florida’s Division of Elections has been aware of these issues, but as yet does not seem to have had a positive impact.
Florida Division of Elections
Does any of this make anybody else curious enough to help determine state wide how many other registrations list a non-residential address as a residence? Or to in general more closely monitor the performance of our Supervisors of Elections?

To a few Supervisors’ credit (but also another item in the things that make you go “hmmm?” category): Because the voters never responded to their Supervisor’s requests for a current residence address, the 13 counties with 100% success ended up removing 93% of their UPS store registrations.

Further, of the 800+ registrations that were cleared state wide, slightly more were removed from the voter roll than had their addresses corrected.

As reported earlier in an April 2014 article, “Voter Fraud?  If they're not catching the easy stuff, what else are they missing?", definitionally ineligible registration residence addresses should not exist. Accordingly, Florida law provides a prompt and clear process to correct a voter’s residence address. And the law says if a voter does not respond to the Supervisor’s contacts, “the supervisor shall make a final determination of the voter’s eligibility” (F.S. 98.075(7)(a)3).

That’s noteworthy, for at least three reasons.    

First, the law says “shall”. It’s not optional. Yet somehow too many of our Supervisors have too many excuses for making the wrong “final determination”.

Second, if the Supervisors were truly doing their jobs, they would have identified and cleared these registrations on their own during their 2013 non-Federal election “list maintenance” cycle. The 38 counties who didn’t have any UPS store registrations this past December did just that. Why didn’t the other 29?

Third, the F.S. 98.075(6) & (7) mandated process triggered by at least December 2013 requires far less than 4 months for an honorable Supervisor to accomplish. Accordingly, at least 13 (and arguably 51) Supervisors have. Yet here we are at 7 months post notice, with an election season looming, and we have 9 Supervisors behaving like we should just sit back and enjoy the ride.

And speaking of folks not doing their job, perhaps it’s time to ask your local media how a Supervisor of Elections intentionally disobeying the law isn’t a newsworthy story?

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