Technically Speaking/Political Commentary
By Perry Busby
Several weeks ago, Broward County Election Supervisor Pete Antonacci gave the green light to proceed with sending out a special postcard notice. That decision would transform the future of tens of thousands of voters, many of them unknowingly.
Internally, the postcard is called an Address Verification Final Notice. It is sent when the election office makes a third, and FINAL attempt to contact voters who have been flagged for possible removal.
Ken Evans says he was both confused and alarmed when he received his postcard and read the bold print, “The Supervisor of Elections has received information that you may no longer live at the address on our voter registration records.” Confused because he’s lived in the same home for two decades and alarmed because he’s been a faithful voter since 1973.
Evans, who also happens to serve as Broward’s Democratic state committeeman, immediately began sounding the alarm and alerting anyone who would listen. This was a serious error, and Evans wanted answers.
A week later, Antonacci was asked about the issue when he spoke at a voter protection town hall meeting at The Grind Coffee Project.
In a disarming folksy demeanor that he’s perfected from years of courtroom deliberation, Antonacci gave a long drawn out explanation about the post office’s bulk rate mail process and discrepancies in street names and zip codes. He claimed it was all an honest mistake that didn’t amount to much since no voters were purged.
Having personally worked with a few direct mail campaigns, I have a general idea of how the mix-up occurred. That being said, I concur with Ken Evans – the public deserves answers.
State law requires each county to refresh their voter list during odd-numbered years, between major elections. During this time counties are given the opportunity to purge their list of all deceased and inactive voters.
Most counties typically follow a process which initially flags voters who didn’t vote or request a ballot in the previous two national elections and didn’t update their registration in the last two years. Then, if the inactive voter doesn’t vote in the upcoming major election, he or she is then purged from the voter database. In this scenario, counties can purge a voter from their roll if that voter did not vote in the 2008, 2012 and 2016 elections. Similarly, a voter who did not vote in 2012 and 2016 may be flagged as inactive.
The office also maintains a list of voters who may no longer reside at the address on file. This list is compiled from returned mail and a voter’s failure to respond to a request to notify the election supervisor’s office. This is the group that Antonacci claims his group was supposed to target in the mailout.
Unfortunately, that explanation does not appear plausible because Evans says he has received other mail from the office, including the last voter registration card.
So, how did the election office determine the list for the postcard? Also, what measures did the office implement to refresh their list, since it was a state