Jacqueline Paulausky has been a registered voter in Florida since she moved to the state in 1981. So when she received a voter registration form in the mail recently, the 72-year-old Democrat was suspicious. The document, which looked official, asked her to affirm that she was a U.S. citizen and that she hadn’t committed a felony. None of her neighbors got one. Nor did her husband. She had eight days to turn in the papers to the state’s Division of Elections, the instructions told her. “I thought I was being picked out of a group,” Paulausky said. She was. Just not in the way she feared. Similar forms were sent to more than 420,000 people in Florida this month. But the sender was the Voter Participation Center, a Washington group that’s trying to increase — not decrease — voting among women and minorities. “Really?” Paulausky said. “Maybe they should have been more clear.” Paulausky actually received the letter in error. It was addressed to Jacqueline “Walker,” her name from a prior marriage that ended in 2005.
Page Gardner, the president of Women’s Voices, Women Vote — the group that runs the Voter Participation Center — said the voter registration data the group purchased didn’t pick up the name change. “Clearly, it’s not in our interest to send a form to someone who doesn’t need it,” Gardner said. “But when you’re mailing as much as we mail, you’re list is not 100 percent. Nothing in this world is perfect.” The mailings have caused confusion elsewhere, said Nancy Whitlock, a spokeswoman for the Pinellas County Supervisor of Elections.
Recipients are asked to fill out the registration forms and send them to the Florida Division of Elections. Yet some who have received the forms and are already registered have wondered about their status, she said. The state already is dealing with confusion and consternation over its effort to purge non-U.S. citizens from Florida voting rolls as well as the implementation of controversial new voting laws.