Election officials say not enough time to purge voters from voter rolls
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (CAPITOL NEWS SERVICE) - Florida’s Division of Elections is telling election supervisors it will begin identifying registered voters who are ineligible because they haven’t paid off all their financial obligations related to past felony convictions.
However, their removal from the rolls isn’t likely before Nov. 3.
The Division of Elections sent an email to Florida’s 67 election supervisors, informing them the division will be reviewing the eligibility of registered voters with past felony convictions to determine whether they still owe debts related to their sentence.
Craig Latimer, Florida Supervisors of Elections president, said once a registration is contested, the process of removing a voter from the rolls can take up to two months.
“Quite frankly, there’s going to be nobody that should be taken off the roll with us being 19 days out from an election,” said Latimer.
But Patricia Brigham, president of the League of Women Voters of Florida worries the message sent by the state could have other consequences.
“This is a clear effort to intimidate voters and to sew doubt in the minds of our returning citizens,” said Brigham.
Election supervisors we spoke with said as long as you are registered and honestly believe you are eligible to vote, you can do so, even if the state raises questions about your eligibility.
Leon County Election Supervisor Mark Earley said once your vote is cast, it will be counted.
“Once we receive a ballot and tabulate a ballot it’s counted and you can’t take those results back out because it’s mixed in with all the other ballots. You know, voting is anonymous,” said Earley.
Whether a legal challenge may be waged to contest the election results based on felon votes is an open question. But there is at least one case from 2016 where a similar challenge failed. The 2016 case involved a Putnam County Sheriff’s race where 32 felons voted.
A county judge ruled the votes should still be counted because the felons were lawfully registered when their ballots were cast.