Buried in the state attorney’s recent memo about voter fraud in a 2016 primary election were a few lines that left political observers scratching their heads: Collecting absentee ballots, it said, is illegal. For years, local campaigns and organizations have gone door to door collecting people’s vote-by-mail ballots to deliver to election headquarters, with the assumption that as long as they weren’t being paid to do it, it was legal. That apparently is no longer the case, adding confusion to one of the more bizarre elements of Florida’s already vague absentee ballot laws and potentially exposing well-meaning volunteers to first-degree misdemeanor charges. A spokesman for Palm Beach County State Attorney Dave Aronberg said the office is offering no opinion beyond what was in its memo, which states, several times: “It is a crime for non-official election personnel to be in possession of any absentee ballots.”
Lawyers and political observers puzzled over the statement, and Elections Supervisor Susan Bucher flatly disagreed with it.
She said she’s had no discussions with the State Attorney’s Office about it, but she said the law applies only to people who are paid to collect ballots. She won’t be changing anything. “Do I know the law? Yes, I know the law, and we comply with the law,” she said.
The state attorney’s memo doesn’t cite any specific statute and doesn’t match the language in the only statute that deals with absentee ballot collection, which turns on a single phrase: “or otherwise.”
Full Article: Absentee ballot fraud: Can anyone pick up ballots?.