In a newly annexed community of Largo, Florida a ballot “mix up” is causing a stir leading up to the November 8th election. During the first week of October, mail-in ballots were sent out to the two hundred and fifty-two voters in the community. Once the ballots were mailed an error was discovered that forced the Pinellas County Elections Commissioner’s office to send out a second ballot ten days later with an insert explaining why they were receiving a second ballot. The error at the center of the controversy was a missing field for the city’s one contested commission seat.
Jason Latimer, Communications Director for the Pinellas County Supervisor of Elections, insisted that only two of the original ballots were mailed in. He went on to say that those two ballots had not been opened or filed before the mistake was realized. Latimer insisted that the supervisor’s system would have caught the error.
“We have protections in place,”Latimer said, according to the Tampa Bay Times. “Once a voter has cast their ballot, we mark that on their record, so they would be unable to vote a second time. This is due to a clerical error and affected 252 voters only in Pinellas County … There is no reason for people to be worried about security.”
However, City Clerk Diana Bruner feels that the city “dropped the ball”. Bruner said that they [the city] did not follow procedure when it came to the annexation ordinance.
The Tampa Bay Times reported that Bruner said, “We have a system. … It usually gets distributed to the supervisor of elections, the tax collector, the property appraiser, the 911 center and even a couple of state agencies,” she said. “Somewhere we broke down and it didn’t get done.”
This mishap is the latest problem plaguing Florida’s elections. Last week the United States District Judge Mark Walker, a President Obama nominee, ruled that the voter registration deadline had to be extended due to Hurricane Matthew. Following that decision, Walker also ruled that the state must provide a method for voters to fix signature problems on mail-in ballots before the election.