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Seminole elections supervisor says people are calling to get off voter rolls

Someone doesn’t trust President Donald Trump with voter roll information.

Seminole County Supervisor of Elections Mike Ertel said Thursday he’s been fielding calls from nervous voters wanting to get their names and data off of voter rolls because they worry that information might be sent to Trump’s Advisory Commission on Election Integrity. Ertel has been talking the voters into staying on the rolls, but he’s getting nervous about voters getting nervous.

Last week that Commission asked every state’s elections authority to send complete voter rolls to Washington to be examined for evidence of voter fraud. While much of the information is already public, especially in Florida, the committee asked for such things as social security numbers, driver’s license numbers, and signatures, which are not public records.

More than 40 states have said no. Florida Gov. Rick Scott and Secretary of State Ken Detzner have not said what they want to do. In Florida a backlash led mainly by Democrats, and including nearly every significant Democratic election holder and candidate, has urged Scott and Detzner to also refuse the request.

Ertel said he’s personally dealt with 15 voters on the matter in the past week. A Republican like Trump, Scott and Detzner, Ertel said he’s trying to address Seminole voters in a non-partisan way, just giving them facts, and trying to avoid any partisan spin. He’s posted a frequently-asked-questions item on the Seminole supervisor’s website, and he’s been pushing the information on social media.

“For a myriad of reasons, I would ask you not to cancel your voter registration. Stay registered,” he advised voters, in the FAQ, if they were wondering about canceling their registration. “So many before us fought, in the fields of battle, politics, government and beyond, to ensure this far into our nation’s future that you would still have the privilege of casting your vote. Don’t let an action you disagree with have the effect of silencing your most powerful tool to change it: your vote.”

And he’s been trying to dissuade voters from false assumptions or unlikely prospects.

He noted, in his FAQ, that some voters are concerned that Trump might initiate a national voter registration database, or that hackers might be able to obtain the information. He called the first unlikely and the second not possible.

And, “I think some voters are scared the commission would know how you voted, and who you voted for, but that’s not possible,” Ertel said.

What is possible, however, is to link voter participation histories with social security and driver’s license numbers. And the ballot signatures have often been a concern.

Ertel noted that Florida is legally obligated to turn over the rest of the state’s voter data, which includes full names, dates of birth, party affiliations, addresses, phone numbers, email addresses, and participation histories. That data is public, and it’s been turned over to numerous groups, agencies, and individuals through routine state records requests. The committee’s records request can be considered no different. Besides, the information already is widely disseminated, he noted.

“This isn’t something the state can really say no to, as it relates to the public data,” he said. “Now the other data, on the social security data, the driver’s license data, I don’t know what they will do.”

If it was his call, he said, “I would just do the publicly available data.”

Written By

Scott Powers is an Orlando-based political journalist with 30+ years’ experience, mostly at newspapers such as the Orlando Sentinel and the Columbus Dispatch. He covers local, state and federal politics and space news across much of Central Florida. His career earned numerous journalism awards for stories ranging from the Space Shuttle Columbia disaster to presidential elections to misplaced nuclear waste. He and his wife Connie have three grown children. Besides them, he’s into mystery and suspense books and movies, rock, blues, basketball, baseball, writing unpublished novels, and being amused. Email him at scott@floridapolitics.com.

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