Hillsborough County elections officials are supposed to flag any voter registration that’s submitted with a business rather than a home address, but they’ve discovered that a filter designed to help them with the process hasn’t worked for years A citizen alerted the elections office in December to 117 names he found on the voter rolls listing UPS stores as home addresses. UPS, like the U.S. Postal Service, rents secure space for mail delivery. A search afterward by the elections office added 34 names to the list, for a total of 151. “If we had known they were on there, we would have taken appropriate steps to get them off or get them in a right residential address,” Elections supervisor Craig Latimer said. It turns out the problem isn’t new; a Tampa Tribune analysis shows that 106 of those voters had been on the supervisor’s rolls at those addresses in March 2012. Latimer said his research shows many of the voters had been on the rolls since the 1990s.
The discovery comes against a backdrop of intense scrutiny of Florida’s voter rolls. In 2012, Gov. Rick Scott pushed for a statewide purge of voters who could not prove they are U.S. citizens. County elections supervisors, including Latimer, resisted the effort. Last month, the state dropped it. A home address is important because geography determines most of a voter’s representatives, in races from the school board to Congress.
The first notices to registration scofflaws went out Jan. 27. That was the next business day after the citizen who discovered the 117 addresses followed up with a public records request asking how many letters Latimer had sent, as required by law.
The timing was a coincidence, Latimer said. He said his office had “identified the problem” before the first alert from the citizen. The delay in sending out the notifications, he said, was because his office had to verify the addresses and check for clerical errors.