Florida Democrats disseminated an improper, altered form that included an incorrect late deadline to fix absentee ballots after three top state races were left too close to call last week.
The altered form was sent out by Jennifer Kim, Florida Democrats’ deputy field director, to fix issues with the voter signatures on absentee ballots that were originally submitted on time, before Election Day.
“These are people that submitted VBMs before Election Day and did not sign them properly,” Kim wrote in an email on November 7, the day after voters went to the polls.
The altered form changed the state deadline of “no later than 5 p.m. on the day before the election” to read “no later than 5 p.m. Thursday Nov. 8.” Kim instructed staff and volunteers to contact particular voters whose ballots had been flagged for signature issues and have them bring the completed form to their local election office.
“If needed (party) staff or volunteer should go pick up their affidavit and deliver it for them if they are not able to deliver by 5 p.m. Thursday. (Each office should identify a runner that can do this.).”
The same day Kim sent out the altered form, Florida Democratic Party Chair Terrie Rizzo posted a message saying ballot-fixing efforts were supposed to be directed at provisional ballots, not absentee ones.
“Hi all. Once again, to clarify: the activity taking place today is for provisional ballots. Not absentee ballots,” Rizzo wrote on a private Facebook page the day after Election Day.
Provisional ballots require a separate provisional form, not the absentee form Democrats altered.
The improper form, called a “cure affidavit,” was found to have been distributed in four counties: Broward, Santa Rosa, Citrus, and Okaloosa. But Florida Democrats apparently planned a statewide effort beyond those four counties to send out the form as recounts remain in progress for the Senate, governor, and state agriculture commissioner races.
The forms have been sent to federal prosecutors over concerns about election fraud.
“Making or using an altered form is a criminal offense under Florida law,” said State Department lawyer Bradley McVay. “More fundamentally, altering a form in a manner that provides the incorrect date for a voter to cure a defect (or an incorrect method as it related to provisional ballots) imposes a burden on the voter significant enough to frustrate the voter’s ability to vote.”
Democrats appeared to be acting on the expectation that a judge would rule that ballots fixed after Election Day could be counted, and that bet may have paid off Thursday when federal judge Mark Walker ruled that voters could fix their signatures on ballots up until Saturday.
Republicans have appealed the ruling, hoping that GOP Senate candidate Rick Scott will preserve his razor-thin lead over incumbent Democratic senator Bill Nelson.