Elections Officials On the Lookout for Fraud

By: Mike Tolbert
By: Mike Tolbert

A recent instance of petition fraud in Santa Rosa County has local election officials looking at possible fraud in our area.

Mark Anderson, Bay County Elections Supervisor, says, “Possible, maybe not possible, you go through a lot of different issues where let’s say a petition of triplicate form like this where a voter may sign the top one and not sign the other two because they may not believe it and someone who is dishonest may come and copy that signature onto
the other one below that.”

Three petitions have contained a high number of suspicious signatures here in the Panhandle, the high speed bullet train, medical liability issues and slot machines at south Florida horse tracks. Some officials believe money may be at the root of the problem.

Bobby Beasley, Walton County Elections Supervisors, says "People receiving these petitions are being paid by the petitioners and there’s some question as to the legitimacy.”

Mark Anderson adds, “If you're making money by getting signatures, your goal is to have as many signed as possible and it puts pressures on those that may not be as honorable and honest so to speak to maybe copy more signatures to make more money.”

Right now Florida law allows this practice. To date Walton and Bay County have identified hundreds of invalid signatures. They plan to turn in their results to the state attorney's office who will determine if fraud is to blame.

Elections officials will not accept signed petitions after August 3.


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