Make us your home page

The Buzz

From the staff of the Tampa Bay Times

Not a stolen election in House race, but burglary of ballots still a mystery



State officials must have breathed a sigh of relief on Tuesday when Mike Hill easily won the special election for House District 1 by a healthy margin of more than 3,000 votes.

If it had been tight, Florida could have snared the national spotlight once again for questions about the security of its elections.

Minutes after 2 on Sunday morning, two men walked into the Santa Rosa Supervisor of Elections after prying the door open with a crow bar and cutting a fiber optic cable used for the building’s communications. They stole two safes, each weighing about 300 pounds, which they loaded on a hand dolly. Inside the safes were 33 early voting ballots, two absentee ballots and a cell phone.

The safes also contained a thumb drive with the vote totals, but Santa Rosa sheriff’s spokesman Rich Alloy said this was only a copy and that the vote totals had already been downloaded. Video footage of the burglary was released Tuesday that showed the two masked men casually walking in (no Hollywood-style heist action here), and leaving with the safes in tow in two separate trips.

Who are they? The cameras are so grainy and far away it’s difficult to make out any details of the men. If anyone has information regarding this case, they are urged to contact the Santa Rosa County Crime Stoppers at 437-STOP .

Why’d they take the safes, which were in public view in the building? At this point, the Santa Rosa Sheriff’s Office says it doesn’t know.

“Motive has yet to be determined,” a statement said. “At this time, we have no indications that this burglary was politically motivated.”

But boy, that would have been tough to believe if Hill had won by less than 35 votes.

[Last modified: Friday, February 28, 2014 5:46pm]


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours