Lake, Seminole Counties see number of record requests amid election concerns

Election officials assure county residents that midterms will be secure

Two supervisors of elections say they are battling a large number of record requests ahead of the 2022 midterm elections.

SEMINOLE COUNTY, Fla. – Two supervisors of elections say they are battling a large number of record requests ahead of the 2022 midterm elections.

“A lot of them are requesting data. They’re requesting to review all ballots, to look at signatures, to create reports,” Seminole County Supervisor of Elections Chris Anderson said.

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Anderson told News 6 that it’s not unheard of to get requests during or after an election season.

Public records can be requested for a variety of reasons and are also used by journalists. Government officials like the supervisor of elections are required by law to fulfill the requests.

But Anderson says these requests have been “off the wall.”

“These are not normal requests that you see…” he said. “You know, the price tag on some of these requests have been in the tens of thousands, if not the hundreds of thousands, which we are legally allowed to do.”

Over in Lake County, Supervisor of Elections Alan Hays told News 6 he’s also seen this increase in requests.

“We might receive 10 or 12 public records requests in a year. Already in the first eight-and-a-half months we have received of this year, we have received over 150,” Hays said.

Hays said the excessive number of requests is putting a strain on his workers.

“It does take quite a bit of time. I’ve got one person who deals with this probably 60%, if not 80%, of the time,” Hays said.

Hays said that between the nature of the requests and the way people have been handling the information, it seems that there may be hesitation in people’s confidence for the integrity of the election.

“It appears to me they’re just on a witch hunt, and they think there is some sinister activity going on when, in fact, there is none,” he said.

Both Hays and Anderson said they want to reaffirm to voters that the upcoming midterm election will be secure and safe.

“The election comes first,” Hays said. “If we have time, we’re happy to fulfill those requests for information, but you may not get your information until after the election.”

“We’re going to continue to remind voters here in Seminole county if you have questions about the elections office that you need to contact us and allow us to address them,” Anderson said.

News 6 has reached out to other election officers to check whether this problem has been seen in other areas, but we have yet to hear back.

Hays and Anderson both said they have no problem fulfilling any records request, but their first priority is conducting the election.

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About the Author:

Brian Didlake joined the News 6 team as a reporter in March 2021.