VALRICO — Brendan and Brennan Wilson almost saw their voting dreams deferred.
The brothers, 18-year-old fraternal twins from Valrico, registered to vote earlier this month at the Department of Motor Vehicles office in Plant City. To prevent confusion, they hand-delivered their registration forms.
Both brothers anxiously watched the mailbox, but only one voter registration card arrived. That card was for Brennan Matthew Wilson. No such person exists. The brothers are Brennan Marcleus Wilson and Brendan Matthew Wilson.
A worker who answered their mother's frantic phone calls at the Hillsborough Supervisor of Elections Office said the twins would probably not be able to vote in this year's election, the boys' mother, Brenda Scott, said. Brendan wasn't registered at all. Brennan's driver's license would not match what was in the registration database.
Scott pressed for a solution anyway, reaching out to the media and anyone she thought could help. Contacted by reporters, elections officials began sleuthing and worked to resolve the issue. Both twins are now fully registered to vote, elections officials said Wednesday.
How does something like this happen? The twins have similar names. They share the same birthday, and their Social Security and driver's license numbers differ by a single digit. The twins also have nearly identical signatures. All those similarities, apparently, confused data entry clerks.
"This is a situation where the clerk thought that it was a duplicate application, and that application went into the duplicate pile," said Mia McCormick, a spokeswoman for the elections office. "The great news is that this family came forward before Election Day, and we were able to fix it."
The situation is, so far, the only one of its kind involving twins in Hillsborough County, which has processed more than 100,000 voter applications since December, McCormick said. The office was unable to provide figures on how many applications have been rejected because of data entry error.
Upon hearing that their dreams of casting votes in this election would come true, the Wilson brothers were overjoyed.
"I feel happy and excited," Brennan Wilson said. My brother "is the same way."
The boys' mother remains perturbed. She is certain the outcome would have been different if the media were not involved.
"My whole thing is I don't want this to happen to someone else," Scott said. "What if I had just accepted what they said? Florida has had problems before. Seems like they should have trained their people."