Manatee County SOE Mike Bennett begins purging inactive voters

bennett, mike

Manatee County Democratic voters are questioning the Supervisor of Elections’ effort to update the voter roster by taking thousands of registered voters of the county lists, many of them Democrats.

Manatee County Democratic Party Chair Pat Benson has a few questions for Supervisor of Elections Mike Bennett about the timing of the move. Monday, Oct. 6 was the last day to register to vote in the November 4 elections

“I think that’s partly the voter’s fault. I think both parties should have been warned,” Benson told WTSP/10 News Investigates. “If we had known a month ago, if we had gotten the list, I would have tried to get people to volunteer to call.”

According to Bennett, 7,760 registered voters who have not voted in the last two general elections or have a bad address, have moved to the inactive voter list.

County estimates are that of those 7,760 inactive voters: 2,715 are Democrat, 2,684 are Republican and 2,361 are “other.”

Benson insists the Democrats are being singled out.

“I have great worries about this election,” she says. “I don’t trust the system.”

“I don’t believe in conspiracy theories, especially in voting,” Bennett told WTSP. “There is no conspiracy theory.”

Bennett says he is only trying to provide an accurate list of active voters, which saves taxpayer money. A particular active voter list gives reasonable turnout data on Election Day.

“I don’t feel guilty about having an efficient office that reports true numbers,” he said.

The elections office reached out to these inactive voters, Bennett added. His office sent letters, voter registration applications and absentee ballots, but each were returned because the voter did not live at the address.

Even though they are on the list of inactive voters, WTSP reports that it does not change their ability to vote Election Day.

“Nobody, Republican, Democrat or Independent has been removed from the voting polls,” Bennett said. “They can still vote they can show up at the polls there is no change to their voting status.”

Benson says after the election, volunteers will attempt to reach out to those Democrats on the inactive list, encouraging them to vote next time.

“I’m tired of the excuse my vote doesn’t count it sure does count,” she said. “It’s about time people woke up started voting.”

Phil Ammann

Phil Ammann is a Tampa Bay-area journalist, editor and writer. With more than three decades of writing, editing, reporting and management experience, Phil produced content for both print and online, in addition to founding several specialty websites, including His broad range includes covering news, local government, entertainment reviews, marketing and an advice column. Phil has served as editor and production manager for Extensive Enterprises Media since 2013 and lives in Tampa with his wife, visual artist Margaret Juul. He can be reached on Twitter @PhilAmmann or at [email protected]


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