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This national group aims to register more voters. Pasco’s elections office has some concerns.

A nonprofit is mailing millions of voter registration forms to Floridians this month in hopes of getting people on voter rolls in time for the 2020 election. Pasco’s supervisor of elections issued an alert warning voters not to be alarmed or confused.
Pasco County Supervisor of Elections Brian Corley, middle, looks over an absentee ballot.
Pasco County Supervisor of Elections Brian Corley, middle, looks over an absentee ballot.
Published Jan. 22

Pasco County’s elections office is again alerting voters about potentially “alarming and confusing” mailers from a Washington, D.C.-based organization that aims to get more unmarried women, people of color and young people to register to vote.

The nonprofit Voter Participation Center is mailing millions of voter registration forms to Floridians this month in hopes of getting people on voter rolls in time for the 2020 election. The letter being sent notes that “according to our review of publicly available records, no one at this address is currently registered to vote.”

The letters may reach voters who are already registered and, subsequently, cause confusion that “their registration has somehow been compromised,” according to a press release from Pasco County Supervisor of Elections Brian E. Corley.

The news release noted that, in the past, the Voter Participation Center had sent mailers to the wrong addresses, deceased people and to pets.

Corley’s office said it has already received reports that the center had sent texts addressed to people who no longer have that phone number.

“Our experience has been that (Voter Participation Center) tactics further erode voter confidence at a time when the security of our elections is in the forefront,” the release from Corley’s office said.

Jessica Barba Brown, chief executive of the Voter Participation Center, said her organization has heard complaints like this in the past and has worked to improve the accuracy of its mailing lists. She said her organization works with commercial data vendors “to basically cobble together a list of people we believe are eligible but not registered.”

She noted that the mailers include disclaimers that those receiving the mailers should check to see whether they are already registered or are eligible to register.

A spokesman for the organization said that, since September 2015, the group had helped register 4,142 people in Pasco County, as well as 8,946 in Pinellas County and 17,174 in Hillsborough County.

Barba Brown said her organization is nonpartisan and is targeting groups that are underrepresented in the electorate, not because those groups of voters tend to be more likely to vote for Democrats. She declined to disclose the organization’s donors.

The news release from Corley’s office stressed that the efforts from the Voter Participation Center “are in no way affiliated with my office and that there are reliable tools already in place for Pasco citizens to register to vote, update their voter registration, and to check their voter registration status.”

Florida voters can check their voter registration status at: https://registration.elections.myflorida.com/CheckVoterStatus

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