Richard Gabbay says he wasn’t trying to suppress anyone’s vote. He simply wanted to organize fellow Republicans for the upcoming 2016 presidential election in Florida’s Broward County. To help in his political organizing, he obtained a list of all registered voters in his precinct. But when he started to compare the names and addresses of his actual neighbors against the names and addresses listed on the official voting roll, he found major discrepancies. Ultimately, Mr. Gabbay identified 629 voters who he believed were no longer eligible to vote. They included seven individuals who had passed away and 570 who appeared to have moved away. In all, his list comprised 14 percent of all registered voters in his precinct. Gabbay and other critics charge that Broward County is failing to keep its voter rolls current and accurate. They say the county’s list of 1.2 million registered voters is grossly inflated with deceased or otherwise ineligible voters.
“If you send out absentee ballots and these people are still on the rolls, you have a perfect storm to enable somebody else to use that address and that voter’s ID.… It makes it possible,” Gabbay told the Monitor in an interview. “I am not alleging fraud, but it is fraud enabling.”
Broward County, a heavily Democratic county in a key swing state, has become the latest flashpoint in a growing national debate over how best to maintain voter registration rolls. It’s a debate that pits the desire to prevent election fraud against the need to preserve individual voting rights.
It comes after an array of unsubstantiated comments by President Trump suggesting he would have won the popular vote in the 2016 general election but for millions of noncitizens who he said cast illegal ballots for Hillary Clinton. It also comes amid multiple investigations into alleged Russian meddling in US elections, including attempts to hack into voter registration databases.