‘Shame on them:’ Lake supervisor of elections calls out ‘lies’ emailed to voters

Voters recently received emails casting doubt on the vote by mail process, county says

Lake County Supervisor of Elections Alan Hays held a news conference Tuesday to address “confusion” for some voters allegedly caused by emails sent from the Republican Party of Lake County and an organization called Florida4America.org.

TAVARES, Fla. – Lake County Supervisor of Elections Alan Hays held a news conference Tuesday to address “confusion” for some voters allegedly caused by emails sent from the Republican Party of Lake County and an organization called Florida4America.org.

According to a news release, Hays said the Republican Party of Lake County, in conjunction with Florida4America.org, has emailed information to voters that encourages people to not vote by mail.

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“I learned that the Republican Party of Lake County, in conjunction with a group called (Florida4America.org), had emailed to Lake County voters a document with false information, and the document grossly sows seeds of doubt in the minds of the recipients,” Hays said.

Hays said that the document sent to voters in Lake County suggests that mail-in ballots were sent out to voters, regardless of whether one was requested.

“Not one ballot has been mailed to any voter in Lake County who did not request that ballot;” Hays said in rebuttal. “Now, I freely acknowledge that some voters may have forgotten they requested to be mailed a ballot for all elections back in 2020. But each of those requests remains valid until December 31, 2022, unless the voter cancels that request. I repeat again, not one ballot has been mailed to anybody in Lake County that did not request that ballot.”

The Florida Legislature changed state election law in 2021 so that vote-by-mail ballot requests are only good for all elections in one election cycle (two years). The requests used to be good for two election cycles.

The state grandfathered in requests that were made in 2020, which is why anyone who requested a ballot in 2020 may have gotten one. But, again, this is legal in Florida.

The supervisor of elections said that the document sent to voters contained “lies” and that he would not “stand by while individuals or organizations erode the confidence or the reputation of this office, and the more than 800 Loyal workers who work tirelessly each election season.”

Hays said a second email sent by the organizations Monday night states the message was “not intended to discourage voting by absentee ballot,” but then repeats the same statements.

“These two organizations, the Republican Party of Lake County and Florida4America.org should be ashamed of their scurrilous conduct and apologize to the voters of Lake County and to this office,” Hays said. “Shame on them.”

Florida4America disputed Hays’ claims, saying the organization was contacted by at least ten voters who received a vote-by-mail ballot that they did not request. In addition, the group told News 6 that they did not discourage voters from voting.

“Concerned voters reached out to F4A after receiving vote-by-mail (VBM) ballots they did not request,” Florida4America wrote. “We advised them to take their vote-by-mail ballots to the polls with them to confirm that no one had previously voted in their name. Per statute FS 101.69, the VBM ballot should be marked ‘canceled’ and the voter provided a new ballot.”

The Lake County Republicans’ office was closed when News 6 stopped by Tuesday. They also did not respond to calls or emails asking about the messaging.

The supervisor took particular issue with Florida4America, saying that the website “falsely states that everyone who received a vote by mail ballot in 2020 was mailed another ballot for this election.”

“That is totally false,” Hays said. “We mailed over 90,000 vote-by-mail ballots in 2020 and so far this election, we’ve only mailed a little over 50,000.”

Hays encouraged any voters with questions about the election or mail-in ballots to call his office.

“Please let us know,” he said. “Let us be your trusted source of all election information. You deserve nothing less than firsthand, accurate information.”


About the Author:

Thomas Mates is a digital storyteller for News 6 and ClickOrlando.com. He also produces the podcast Florida Foodie. Thomas is originally from Northeastern Pennsylvania and worked in Portland, Oregon before moving to Central Florida in August 2018. He graduated from Temple University with a degree in Journalism in 2010.