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From the staff of the Tampa Bay Times

Election officials want fixes for 'historically flawed' voting system



Another Florida election is over, but another Florida election controversy is just beginning.

In the aftermath of the passionate outpouring of support for Donald Trump, some voters complained that when they went to the polls on March 15, they were given ballots without Trump's name. The South Florida Sun-Sentinel reports that hundreds of Palm Beach County voters received ballots for unaffiliated no-party or "NPA" voters, which means those voters could not vote for president in either party because Florida is a "closed primary" state.

Palm Beach County Commissioner Steven Abrams identified about 2,000 people who updated their drivers' license information at a local tax collector's office did not realize that they were required to again choose their political party affiliation. Voters who don't check that box are automatically classified as NPA voters — and the problem wasn't discovered until those voters showed up to vote.

In response to the Palm Beach mixup, county supervisors of elections wrote a letter to Secretary of State Ken Detzner and blamed the snafu on software problems in the Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles. Their statewide president, Pasco Supervisor Brian Corley, wants the state to create a new system that includes a paper trail to provide proof that voters affirmatively select a party when they update their driving record.

"Because the supervisors of election receive no paper trail that can be scanned to a voter's record, there is no immediate evidence in support of, or to disprove, a voter's claims when errors allegedly have been made," Corley wrote. In a tone of mounting frustration, Corley added: "The lack of any evidential paper trail has invited errors, has further eroded voter confidence, and has placed an unfair burden on the supervisors of elections to be responsible for problems created out of their control."

"The climate is ripe for a system which empowers people to register to vote rather than enable them with a system which is historically flawed," Corley told Detzner.

Corley designated six supervisors to be part of a working group to resolve the problem. Detzner's spokeswoman, Meredith Beatrice, said the agency "reviews any specific complaints submitted to our office."

The highway safety agency said Friday is takes all concerns about voter registration "very seriously," and that in each case that it has investigated, the voter did not choose to register with a political party. The agency said voters who are already registered to vote and who indicate "no party change" on an updated document will remain with the party they chose previously, or NPA if that was their choice. 

[Last modified: Friday, March 25, 2016 3:59pm]


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