Make us your home page
Instagram

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

1,117 absentee ballots for House race are lost

CLEARWATER — Just nine days before the primary election, the U.S. Postal Service has lost more than 1,100 absentee ballots for the state House District 55 race.

Pinellas elections officials said they delivered the 1,117 ballots to the Clearwater Bulk Mail Unit on Monday.

Postal officials confirmed the ballots were received but say they have no record of what happened to them after that.

The mishap has alarmed local political leaders.

"My concern is, if there is something nefarious going on how are we going to fix it?" said Toni Molinaro, chairwoman of the Pinellas County Democratic Executive Committee. "The worst case scenario is that someone took them and is going to do something fraudulent with them."

Elections officials say there is no need to worry. The ballots, originally sent to voters who requested them, were resent to the same voters on Friday by priority mail.

As per state law, officials said they will compare signatures on the ballot with signatures on file.

"If the signature doesn't match, the canvassing board will take a look it," said Nancy Whitlock, spokeswoman for the Pinellas elections office.

Any voter receiving two ballots should return only one, Whitlock said. Only the first ballot received by the elections office will be counted.

Ballots for civilians living overseas, and for military personnel in the U.S. and abroad, were mailed separately and were not affected.

The post office is investigating the mishap.

"We have every confidence that we are going to see that mail," said Gary Sawtelle, a spokesman for the U.S. post office in Tampa. "If it was misdirected for whatever reason it will find its way back here, where it would ultimately be delivered to the addressee or it would be returned to the sender."

The House District 55 seat has been open since former Rep. Frank Peterman was appointed to head the Florida Department of Juvenile Justice.

The Democrats in the race are attorney Darryl Rouson, St. Petersburg City Council member Earnest Williams and educator Charles McKenzie. The primary is March 25.

No Republicans entered the race.

Completed ballots must be received by the elections office by 7 p.m. on Election Day.

Meanwhile, Williams has filed a complaint with the St. Petersburg Police Department against Rouson, who he claims physically threatened him during a heated candidates forum Wednesday at a luncheon hosted by the Suncoast Tiger Bay Club. Williams was not available for comment Friday afternoon.

Rouson, who denied the allegations, called it a desperate ploy.

"Clearly, my only intention was to acknowledge that I was going to beat him at the ballot box, I'm going to beat him at the polls ... and that's it," Rouson said.

Rouson said he only confronted Williams after the council member threatened him.

"He was challenging me. He wanted to take it outside. He wanted to get physical with me," Rouson said.

Times staff writer Abhi Raghunathan contributed to this report.

1,117 absentee ballots for House race are lost 03/15/08 [Last modified: Monday, March 17, 2008 2:03pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Trump sprinkles political attacks into Scout Jamboree speech

    GLEN JEAN, W.Va. — Ahead of President Donald Trump's appearance Monday at the National Scout Jamboree in West Virginia, the troops were offered some advice on the gathering's official blog: Fully hydrate. Be "courteous" and "kind." And avoid the kind of divisive chants heard during the 2016 campaign such as "build …

    President Donald Trump addresses the Boy Scouts of America's 2017 National Scout Jamboree at the Summit Bechtel National Scout Reserve in Glen Jean, W.Va., July 24, 2017. [New York Times]
  2. Trump, seething about attorney general, speculates about firing Sessions, sources say

    WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump has spoken with advisers about firing Attorney General Jeff Sessions, as he continues to rage against Sessions' decision to recuse himself from all matters related to the Russia investigation.

  3. John McCain to return to Senate for health care vote

    WASHINGTON — The Senate plans to vote Tuesday to try to advance a sweeping rewrite of the nation's health-care laws with the last-minute arrival of Sen. John McCain — but tough talk from President Donald Trump won no new public support from skeptical GOP senators for the flagging effort that all but …

  4. Last orca calf born in captivity at a SeaWorld park dies

    Tourism

    ORLANDO — The last killer whale born in captivity under SeaWorld's former orca-breeding program died Monday at the company's San Antonio, Texas, park, SeaWorld said.

    Thet orca Takara helps guide her newborn, Kyara, to the water's surface at SeaWorld San Antonio in San Antonio, Texas, in April. Kyara was the final killer whale born under SeaWorld's former orca-breeding program. The Orlando-based company says 3-month-old Kyara died Monday. [Chris Gotshall/SeaWorld Parks & Entertainment via AP]
  5. Blake Snell steps up, but Rays lose to Orioles anyway (w/video)

    The Heater

    ST. PETERSBURG — Blake Snell stepped up when he had to Monday and delivered an impressive career-high seven-plus innings for the Rays. That it wasn't enough in what ended up a 5-0 loss to the Orioles that was their season-high fifth straight is symptomatic of the mess they are in right now.

    Tim Beckham stands hands on hips after being doubled off first.