Palm Beach County Democrats ‘helped’ voters fill out ballots

Al-Jacquet-DB

State Rep. Al Jacquet and Palm Beach County Commissioner Mack Bernard, both Democrats, got a little bit hands-on with voter outreach last year according to an investigation by the Palm Beach Post.

The report found that both men entered the homes of vote-by-mail voters and “helped” them fill out their ballots.

One voter who is blind said Bernard filled out and signed his ballot and the Post found that the man’s vote counted and that the signature on the ballot did not match the one on file with the supervisor of elections.

The investigation also turned up instances of Bernard and Jacquet looking over voters’ shoulder as they marked their choices.

The practice, though unethical, may fall into a legal gray area. Elections experts contacted by the post said they had never heard of a candidate pulling the same stunt as Bernard and Jacquet.

“That’s just a stupid thing for a candidate to do,” said Gerald Kogan, who served on the state’s high court for 11 years. “Why on Earth would a candidate have to go into somebody’s house and watch them fill out a ballot?”

The pair used daily updates from the supervisor of elections office to pinpoint when ballots were sent out, allowing them or campaign workers to show up to voters’ homes when the ballots arrived.

Voters who had the men in their homes said they let the candidates or one of their campaign staffers deliver the ballot back to the supervisors office in order to same them the cost of postage.

The candidates deny any wrongdoing.

“To argue that my hard-fought victory was achieved by anything other than the sweat on my brow and the lost sole on my shoes is offensive,” Bernard said.

Drew Wilson

Drew Wilson covers legislative campaigns and fundraising for Florida Politics. He is a former editor at The Independent Florida Alligator and business correspondent at The Hollywood Reporter. Wilson, a University of Florida alumnus, covered the state economy and Legislature for LobbyTools and The Florida Current prior to joining Florida Politics.



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