LAKE COUNTY, Fla. – Officials with the Lake County Supervisor of Elections Office said law enforcement is investigating a series of falsified voter registration applications.
The office received 119 applications that appear to be fake, Supervisor of Elections Alan Hays said Wednesday in an afternoon news conference.
“We received calls last week from voters saying they were getting new voter registration cards from our office indicating their party changed from Democrat to Republican,” Hays said.
He explained the documents were either new voter registration applications, party switches from Democrat to Republican or no party affiliation to Republican. Hays estimates up to 30 voters’ party affiliations were changed.
Hays said the voters denied filling out forms. According to Hays, 10 people filed complaints with the office.
Election leaders launched an investigation and discovered the forms all had identical handwriting. Hays said all of the applications came from a third-party voter registration organization. The applications were submitted to the elections offices in Seminole and Orange counties.
Hays said some fake applications were filed for new voters but were not processed. He also said some voters received letters from his office alerting them that unverified personal information was submitted on an application.
“One of these falsified documents was using the name and address of a person who was born in 1928, and yet the date of birth put on there was 1979,” Hays said.
The SEO called the organization to notify them of the issue.
The organization explained the people for which the SEO received applications filled out candidate forms, though the office received a registration application for those individuals. The organization provided information for the field representative overseeing the collection of the candidate form and they were suspended from activity with the organization, according to Hays.
“Each of us is working together to protect the integrity of the elections system,” Hays said. “That’s why we’re here today, to tell our voters that we’re on top of this thing.”
The Lake County Sheriff’s Office said they have a person of interest at this time but they have not made any arrests. The State Attorney’s Office is also assisting with the investigation.
“The integrity of our voter registration database is of paramount importance,” Hays said. “That integrity is still intact.”
Hays explained that if voters go to polls Thursday for early voting there will be a system in place for those who happen to find their party affiliation was switched without their knowledge.
“We do not expect to have more than 25-30 people to have experienced this,” Hays said. “We think this number is small at this time but we’re being proactive to make sure we have a system in place that no matter how large these numbers may be, we have a system in place.”
Hays explained the following process for voters affected by the fraudulent documents:
- Voters should double-check their voting identification card.
- If they receive a ballot not affiliated with their party or believe their party was switched without their knowledge, they must identify an election worker.
- The voter will receive a provisional ballot envelope from the election worker and be issued a ballot of their choice.
- Once a voter fills out their ballot, they will need to take it back to the election worker.
- The election worker will put their ballot in the provisional ballot enveloped in front of them and tear off a stub identifying the envelope.
- Voters will be handed the stub so they can track the ballot.
- The ballot will be presented to the canvassing board and they will choose whether or not to accept that ballot.