Ion Sancho, the supervisor of elections for Leon County, has decided to process about 1,000 suspicious voter registration forms from Florida A&M University students.
Sancho said the forms were submitted to the Florida Department of State’s Director of Elections office Sept. 23 and then forwarded to his office.
Mary Brown of the American Friend Service Committee submitted the questionable forms, said a representative from the Secretary of State’s office.
“The forms were delivered to the Division of Elections at the Secretary of State’s office. The problem is that the forms were photocopied, and it appears that the party affiliation may have been changed,” Sancho said.
Sancho said his office became suspicious of the forms because many of them were registered as Republicans, which he said is unusual for FAMU students.
“Without the original forms, (our office) can’t tell if that is the party (the student) chose,” Sancho explained.
Sancho said under Florida Law, the voter registration form must have a handwritten signature but his office has decided to validate the forms in favor of students’ rights.
“(Our office) believes the citizen’s right to vote should be accommodated,” Sancho said. “Students are citizens, too.”
Sancho said his office is investigating the situation. He said his office will process the forms, but will leave the party affiliation blank.
“The absence of a party affiliation will not affect students in November because the ballots are not given out according to Democrat, Republican or Independent,” Sancho explained.
In other cities throughout the state, more than party affiliation has come into question.
U.S. Representative Kendrick B. Meek visited Tallahassee Monday to urge Florida Secretary of State Glenda Hood to accept voter registration forms from people who failed to check the citizenship box on the voter registration form.
Meek said the box is a technicality because would-be voters sign an oath at the bottom of the form that states they are U.S. citizens, among other things.
“I am here to ask the Secretary (Hood) to lean on the side of allowing people who register and sign the form to be able to honor signature affirming citizenship,” Meek said.
Meek said he was alerted by the situation when Hood issued a letter to the state’s supervisors of elections Sept. 28 to reject forms from people who signed the form’s oath of citizenship but did not check a citizenship box.
Hood was unavailable to meet with the congressman because she was in Broward County checking on voter registration. However, the Director of Elections, Dawn Roberts, made a statement on behalf of the department. Roberts said the oath is not specific enough to compensate for checking Box 2 on the form.”The oath is much broader than the citizenship issue. The oath speaks to other items,” Roberts said.
The situations bring attention to third party groups who registered hundreds of students who may not have been doing it properly.
Phillip Agnew, 19, a sophomore business student from Chicago, said such is not the case for the FAMU Vote Coalition.
“I can speak with 100 percent certainty that none of the leadership of the Vote Coalition had anything to do with any tampering. Our main goal was just the registration of voters. We are a non-partisan organization and would have no vested interest in adjusting any of those forms,” said Agnew, the co-chair of the Vote Coalition.
“We worked with many campus organizations ranging from Greek organizations to city clubs, student government and service organizations. I can’t speak for any of the organizations that worked with us,” said Agnew, who also serves as president of the sophomore class.
Still, many students who registered on campus said they have not received their voter registration cards. Because Monday was the last day to register to vote, it may be too late to do anything about it.
“I registered in August and I still haven’t received my voter registration card,” said Christina Hordge, 19, a sophomore broadcast journalism student from Tampa.
“So I called the supervisor of elections and found out my form was not turned in yet.”
Contact Alexia R. Robinson at firstname.lastname@example.org.