Leon County Supervisor of Elections Mark Earley told The Florida Capital Star that he started the process of removing seven felons from the Leon County voter registration system. Earley noted that all seven voted in the 2020 general election.
The voters were discovered by a private citizen who forwarded 12 names to Earley’s office. Earley told The Capital Star that after research by his office it was determined that seven of the voters were convicted sex offenders and should not have been allowed to register to vote. Earley said further research is needed to determine the fate of the other four names.
Earley said that his office takes all input from citizens seriously and in this case there were problems with several registered voters.
Research by The Capital Star indicates that eight of the twelve voters under investigation were registered as Democrats, three were registered with no party affiliation, and one was registered as a Republican. Also, public records indicate that six voted via absentee ballots, three early voted, and three voted in person.
Earley said that the Florida Division of Elections usually forwards names with voter registration problems to his office for review, however, the names he received from the private citizen had not yet made it through the process.
“It is a very complicated process and it takes time and manpower”, said Earley.
The process for removing a convicted felon is provided for in Florida Statutes 98.075(5).
The law states the state election officials shall identify the registered voters who have been convicted of a felony and whose voting rights have not been restored and make initial determination as to whether the information is credible and reliable. If it is determined that the information is credible and reliable, the department shall notify the supervisor and the supervisor should begin the removal process.
Earley told The Capital Star that a decision has not been made on whether to forward the names for criminal prosecution.
The discovery in Leon County comes after it was reported that three voters from a Florida retirement community were arrested on charges of voting more than once.
Also, Alan Hays, the Lake County Supervisor of Elections, recently revealed that six cases of voter fraud have been sent to the state attorney’s office for review. Hays, in an email to a concerned citizen, said we “need to encourage the State to improve their notification process so the counties will be notified promptly upon sentencing being handed down.”
In November, Governor Ron DeSantis proposed election integrity reforms to be considered during the upcoming legislative session. The reforms include:
- Establish an Office of Election Crimes and Security within the Department of State to investigate election crimes and fraud;
- Elevate the crime of ballot harvesting to a third-degree felony, recognizing that this offense is a serious attack on democracy;
- Require timelines for supervisors of elections to clean the voter rolls of ineligible voters; and
- Prohibit unsecure, haphazard drop box locations in Florida.
DeSantis said, “I am excited that with this legislation, our state will be able to enforce election violations, combat voter fraud and make sure violators are held accountable. If potential violators know they will be held accountable, they will be much less likely to engage in improper conduct in the first place.”
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Steve Stewart is the Managing Editor and a contributor at The Florida Capital Star. Email tips to [email protected]idacapitalstar.com.
Photo “Mark Earley” by Leon County Supervisor of Elections. Photo “Election Day 2020” by Phil Roeder. CC BY 2.0.