With furor growing over his surprise announcement of new restrictions on the handling of absentee ballots, Florida Secretary of State Ken Detzner did Tuesday what critics say he should have done in the first place. He talked to a supervisor of elections — in particular, Deborah Clark of Pinellas County. And later Tuesday night, Detzner followed up with a letter to Clark suggesting he is satisfied with her work to make sure absentee ballots will be secure in Pinellas County’s upcoming special congressional election to replace the late C.W. Bill Young. Detzner also signaled he has no interest in upping the ante on a controversy that is pitting elected officials from around Florida against Gov. Rick Scott’s administration. “I do not see the need for any further legal action at this time,” concluded Detzner, Scott’s top elections official. But neither did he suggest any change to the new statewide directive announced last week.
A spokeswoman said Clark received Detzner’s letter at 7:15 p.m. Tuesday and would have to review it with a county attorney before commenting on it.
Detzner’s letter came one day after Clark said she would not follow orders from Tallahassee that said elections supervisors “should not solicit return of absentee ballots at any place other than a supervisor’s office.”
Instead, Clark, whose office will run a Republican primary election in the congressional District 13 race on Jan. 14, plans to use two libraries and three tax collector branch offices as dropoff sites, in addition to her three offices.
She has used the dropoff sites for six years and she told the state, “I plan to continue using them, including in the impending special primary election.” She said the sites are “in full compliance with the law” and were included in plans her office has submitted to Tallahassee to get federal voter-education money.