Florida's Department of State has asked federal prosecutors to look into inaccuracies on some vote-by-mail ballots that it said can be traced to the Florida Democratic Party. Altering these documents is a criminal offense.
Hold on — what irregularities?
If a voter submits a vote-by-mail ballot with missing or incomplete information, they still have a chance to get it fixed — provided that they have enough time to do so before the election. When the county receives one of these incorrect ballots, it can reach out to the voter to get them to resubmit a ballot with all the information filled in correctly.
These corrections, known as “cures,” need to be received by election officials no later than 5 p.m. on the day before the election, which this year was Monday, Nov. 5.
However, the Florida Department of State released affidavits proving that four counties in Florida, including Broward, had told voters that these corrected ballots could be submitted as late as Thursday, Nov. 8. The other three counties were Citrus, Okaloosa, and Santa Rosa.
Emails released by the Florida Department of State from election officials in each of these four counties documented that multiple voters had submitted their corrections by the inaccurate Nov. 8 deadline. They also imply that Florida's Democratic Party had sent out these misdated ballots.
“Please pass the word to the FDP [Florida Democratic Party] that they can't arbitrarily add their own deadline to your form for VBM [vote-by-mail] cures!” the Supervisor of Elections for Okaloosa County wrote in one of these emails. “This is crazy!!"
The Tampa Bay Times reports that while it's perfectly legal for a political party to send this form to voters, altering it in any way is a criminal offense.
This point was brought up in another email by Susan Gill, the supervisor of elections for Citrus County. Gill theorized that the Democratic Party may have mistaken the deadline for provisional ballots, which was Nov. 7, with the deadline for submitting a correction for a vote-by-mail ballot. “But a bigger problem” she added, “is the fact they actually changed one of the DOE forms.”
In a letter released on Tuesday, Florida Department of State interim general counsel Bradley McVay said, "Altering a form in a manner that provides the incorrect date for a voter to cure a defect (or an incorrect method as it relates to provisional ballots) imposes a burden on the voter significant enough to frustrate the voter’s ability to vote."
Politico Florida senior reporter Matt Dixon said he had heard audio of a call from a volunteer with the Florida Democratic Party to a voter who had submitted an inaccurate mail ballot. This call was after the recount had already started and past the deadline when any corrections could be made, yet Dixon quoted the volunteer as saying, “[W]e are now doing a recount, so we want to make sure you let your vote be counted.”
Has the Florida Democratic Party responded?
In a statement to Politico, Florida Democratic Party spokeswoman Caroline Rowland said that this entire episode was due to current Florida Republican Gov. Rick Scott “once again trying to divert attention and resources from a smooth and successful recount.”