Too Soon! FL Election Officials Unhappy About Governor’s Absentee Voting Mailer


[Image courtesy of politicalfixflorida]

In Ohio, the current argument is about whether or not early voting starts too late … but in Florida, election officials are complaining about a new mailer that they say is hitting voters’ mailboxes too early. The Miami Herald’s Steve Bousquet has more:

Two Tampa Bay election supervisors criticized as “inaccurate” and “incorrect” a mailer by Gov. Rick Scott’s campaign committee that tells voters that their absentee ballots should have arrived by now. The attention-grabbing mailer [pictured above – ed.] by Scott’s Let’s Get to Work committee has the words “Voter Alert!” and the statement, “By now, you should have received your absentee ballot.”

Not true, elections official say. The first day that in-state absentees can be mailed is Tuesday, Sept. 30. They can be mailed as late as Oct. 7. The last thing county elections officials want is to be inaccurately blamed for not sending ballots to their voters.

County supervisors, who last week came together on a call for online voter registration, appear to be united again on the notion that the mailer is too soon:

Hillsborough Supervisor of Elections Craig Latimer issued a news release that said “Their information is incorrect.” He plans to mail more than 150,000 absentees to Tampa-area voters on Oct. 6.

On Twitter, Pasco Supervisor of Elections Brian Corley showed the mailer and said: “Here is the inaccurate flyer that voters throughout FL rec’d with incorrect info from #LetsGetToWork.”

Yet another tweet Monday from Seminole County Supervisor Mike Ertel: “Absentee ballots to local voters have not been mailed. Florida voters get ballots about one month before Election Day.”

Governor Scott has had a rocky relationship with local officials, and a spokesperson for his campaign didn’t exactly apologize when contacted for public comment, though it appears a private explanation was more forthcoming:

Scott campaign spokeswoman Jackie Schutz issued this statement: “Voting by mail is important, and we hope that all voters will receive their vote-by-mail ballots promptly.” The campaign wouldn’t comment on the record as to why it sent voters inaccurate information, but it’s possible that the mail pieces simply reached Florida households sooner than expected.

This is actually an issue that is likely to recur elsewhere as more and more campaigns embrace the drive to increase vote-by-mail turnout (the article notes the tendency of campaigns to “chase” mail voters); going forward, consultants and mailing houses will need to be careful to time these kinds of pieces properly so as not to embarrass the candidate – and complicate the lives of the women and men counting the votes.

This is a nationally-watched race with an abundance of bad feeling and distrust all around – I wouldn’t be surprised if there’s another stinky old shoe ready to drop – or be thrown at someone. Stay tuned …

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