A day after Florida’s election left top state races too close to call, a Democratic party leader directed staffers and volunteers to share altered election forms with voters to fix signature problems on absentee ballots after the state’s deadline.
The altered forms surfaced in Broward, Santa Rosa, Citrus and Okaloosa counties and were reported to federal prosecutors to review for possible election fraud as Florida counties complete a required recount in three top races.
But an email obtained by the USA TODAY NETWORK-Florida shows that Florida Democrats were organizing a broader statewide effort beyond those counties to give voters the altered forms to fix improper absentee ballots after the Nov. 5 deadline. Democratic party leaders provided staffers with copies of a form, known as a “cure affidavit,” that had been modified to include an inaccurate Nov. 8 deadline….
Keith told the USA TODAY NETWORK-Florida that she was aware the deadline to submit those forms had expired even though she was telling them there was still time to fix their absentee ballots. She then directed people to email Katharine Priegues, a field organizer with the Florida Democratic Party, with the subject line “I want to help” for instructions on what to do.
“I was trying to show that if given notice, voters would try to fix their ballots,” Keith said. “I was putting the word out because I was anticipating a challenge of that deadline (in court).”
Keith knew that because the deadline had passed, it was almost guaranteed forms submitted by voters on Nov. 8 would be rejected by election supervisors, who were under “no obligation to accept the affidavits.”
“But better to have evidence in hand,” Keith said.
That evidence would be a record of emails sent by voters who wanted to fix their absentee ballots but couldn’t do so because they couldn’t meet the state-imposed deadline.
She said she doesn’t consider what she was doing election fraud.
“It is not fraud to try and correct something. There’s nothing fraudulent about that,” she said.
After Walker’s ruling to allow voters more time to fix signature problems on absentee ballots, Keith said the actions that she and other Democrats took to help voters with the altered forms was justified.
“The deadline wasn’t ‘wrong,’ per se. It was functionally meaningless and arbitrary,” Keith said. “Most people never get notice, and many ballots weren’t even looked at until the deadline had passed.”
The Department of State, which oversees elections, raised concerns about the altered forms, arguing that making changes to state forms is a criminal offense in Florida. The forms were forwarded on Friday to federal prosecutors.