Dems in FL caught using altered forms to count illegal ballots
Federal prosecutors are looking at a state-wide effort by Florida Democrats to count invalid ballots by giving absentee voters an altered form to fix discrepancies in their signature.
The date on the form has been altered to make it appear that the ballot was legal.
A day after Florida's election left top state races too close to call, a Democratic party leader directed staffers and volunteers to share altered election forms with voters to fix signature problems on absentee ballots after the state's deadline.
The altered forms surfaced in Broward, Santa Rosa, Citrus and Okaloosa counties and were reported to federal prosecutors to review for possible election fraud as Florida counties completed a required recount in three top races.
But an email obtained by the USA TODAY NETWORK - Florida shows that Florida Democrats were organizing a broader statewide effort beyond those counties to give voters the altered forms to fix improper absentee ballots after the Nov. 5 deadline. Democratic party leaders provided staffers with copies of a form, known as a "cure affidavit," that had been modified to include an inaccurate Nov. 8 deadline.
One Palm Beach Democratic activist said in an interview the idea was to have voters fix and submit as many absentee ballots as possible with the altered forms in hopes of later including them in vote totals if a judge ruled such ballots were allowed.
That's the pary line. The fact is, altering a form in this way is a criminal act.
Jake Sanders, a Democratic consultant in the Treasure Coast who saw the email, told the USA TODAY NETWORK - Florida that he warned party staffers about the legality of using an altered form, but was ignored.
"I warned FDP staff members of the questionable legal status of altering a state form and misleading people their vote would be counted before the court case played out," Sanders said. "And coordinated campaign leadership told them to keep pushing it that, 'We are exhausting every possibility.'"
Sanders said the legality of use of the altered form was never discussed.
To Sanders, the party was not being upfront with voters and "undermining making sure every vote counts."
"They should have been saying, 'This is unprecedented. We are fighting for your vote to count. Fill this out so we can fight for you.' But self-imposing a fake deadline and deceiving people is counter to that," Sanders said.
Jennifer Kim, the party's Central Florida deputy field director who also served as deputy training director, was clear in her Nov. 7 email that staffers should target people who submitted absentee vote-by-mail ballots before Election Day and did not sign them properly. Her email subject line said "VBM signature cure instructions" and labeled the list of voters to be contacted as "VBM signature chases."
That same day, however, state Democratic Party Chair Terrie Rizzo wrote on a private Facebook page that efforts to fix ballots should be focused on provisional ballots, which were handled separately with a Nov. 8 deadline for voters to fix any issues.
We're talking about hundreds - perhaps thousands - of absentee ballots that will be counted because of an illegally altered form. John Hinderaker explains the impact, saying "The Democrats attempted to, in effect, extend the legal deadline for “cure affidavits” so that more ballots potentially could be counted." It doesn't matter if a judge extended the deadline. The forms themselves were illegal, hence, the absentee ballots that were "fixed" are illegal also.
The initial effort to use the fradulent forms in Broward and other Democratic counties is just one more indication of the lengths Democrats will go to count every ballot - even if the ballots are illegal.