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The Buzz

From the staff of the Tampa Bay Times

Voter registration drive with women, minorities rankles state election officials

22

June

Is a showdown looming over the registration of single women voters, a crucial bloc of support for Pres. Barack Obama?

It was reported Thursday that a Washington D.C. non-profit had mailed 420,000 voter registration forms in Florida this month, and some of the recipients were confused by them. Some people who were already registered to vote got the forms, which asked them to affirm they were U.S. citizens and non-felons and mail the application to the state Division of Elections.

Page Gardner, the president of Women's Voices, Women Vote — the group that sent the forms— said the voter registration data the group purchased had some errors in it, but overall the mailings were accurate. She said that state officials, who couldn't be reached by The Buzz, hadn't raised any objections. But as the name of the non-profit suggests, the forms target women, particularly single women who tend to lean Democrat.

Does the state, which under Republican Gov. Rick Scott has gone through a great deal of effort in purging non-U.S. citizens from the voter rolls, have zero objections to a group that's increasing the participation of women and minorities?

After the story was published, Chris Cate, spokesman for the Florida Department of State, e-mailed the Buzz outlining problems with the mailings.

Here's his e-mail:

I apologize for the delayed response. The Division of Elections has received more than 8,000 voter registration applications from the Voter Participation Center (VPC) mailing.  A high volume of returned applications have noted that the organization sent applications to deceased family members.  Numerous others noted that the contacted individuals have never resided in Florida, never resided in the US,  are non-citizens, minors, and even animals.  As a result, our voter assistance hotline calls have increased with calls from concerned and confused citizens sharing their frustration over the organization sending these applications to them.  The appearance of the mailing is misleading since it appears that the mailing was initiated by the Florida Secretary of State.  The return address of the Voter Participation Center appears in a gray bar which makes it difficult to read.   The Division of Elections has been in touch with a representative of the Voter Participation Center regarding the inaccuracy of the mailing data.  We have offered to provide examples of the erroneous applications that are representative of the direct mailing data presently used by their organization so that they can further refine their mailing lists.  The VPC has advised the Division of its intent to conduct another bulk mailing during the last week of August.   It should be noted that Supervisors of Elections throughout the state have also reported a high number of calls from citizens regarding the mailing.

Asked if the Division of Elections would take any action, Cate told the Buzz:  "This is obviously something we’re concerned about. Let me check into the options we're considering."

 

[Last modified: Friday, June 22, 2012 12:17pm]

    

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