Broward County Florida can’t send out absentee ballots without controversy.
The office of the Broward County Supervisor of Elections sent out more than 60,000 absentee ballots last week with return envelopes that identify voters’ party affiliations.
The system invites fraud, critics say, because mailed ballots go through many handlers who are not certified as poll watchers.
How many hands touch the ballots at the elections office?
Registered Democrats who vote by absentee ballot in the county are identified on the return envelopes with “Dem.” Republicans are “Rep,” and independents are “NPA,” for “no party affiliation.”
The ballots for the November 4 general election are the same, so there is no need to distinguish between Democratic and Republican ballots.
Mary Cooney, a spokesperson for Elections Supervisor Brenda Snipes, said that the party references on the envelopes were merely a matter of computer-programmed information.
“That’s just the way it was programmed,” Cooney said. “The affiliation is not pertinent to the election.”
Blame it on the computer. Why then was this only done in Broward County? Chuck Lichtman, who is a lawyer for the Florida Democratic party is quoted saying “I’ve never heard of that happening in Florida or anywhere else,” he said. “This offends me.”
Neither Palm Beach County nor Miami-Dade County includes party affiliations on return envelopes.
Cooney acknowledged that there “have been issues” in the past with the delivery of absentee ballots. She added, though, that the missing ballots in 2004 were outgoing ballots.
Memo to Cooney- This is a outgoing ballot issue also. Your cockermamie office sent out return envelopes a person’s party affiliation on the outside.
Oh and the ballot screwup of 2004 involved 58,000 ballots that disappeared. I guess the office is ‘improving’, this year they made a mess of all absentee ballots.
Before that, the Broward County Elections Supervisor had to be removed from office in 2003 by then Governor Jeb Bush for ‘grave neglect and incompetence.’
Broward County Republican chairman Chip LaMarca said that he had “a slight concern” about openly identifying voters’ party affiliations.
“I’m going to err on the side of having faith in the postal employees,” he said.
Neither Republicans or Democrats are too happy with what has happened. The only difference, being one Republican official saying–
“This is a shame that we cannot trust the postal people,” said Colleen Stolberg, the absentee ballot chairwoman for the Broward Republican Party. “These people are stealing votes from us.”
Which is dumb. No one at this point besides Stollberg is claiming ballots are being stolen, discarded, etc. Postal workers are now asking for an apology, and the local GOP is escalating by asking the US Justice Department to monitor the Postal Service. Does anyone with a brain realistically expect every post office and all its employees to watched? What does realism have to do with elections in Florida?
A commenter at The Daily Pulp wrote-
Our absentee ballots had our party affiliation written on the mailing envelope. Isn’t this an invitation to electoral fraud?
Bob Norman’s simple answer was “Yes”. I have to agree.
Bob, who is one of the small handful of bloggers I’ve had the pleasure of meeting face to face, asks a very good question with the title of his blog post
Why Brenda Snipes, Why?