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SWFL Volunteers Attempt To Connect Provisional Voters To Their Ballots

Andrea Perdomo
Volunteers at a former Democratic candidate David Holden's headquarters on Thursday try to connect provisional voters with their ballots.

Three major Florida races are heading toward a recount: the U.S. Senate seat, the governor’s seat and the commissioner of agriculture. Dozens of volunteers gathered at a former Democratic candidate’s headquarters on Thursday to connect provisional voters with their ballots. 

Sara McFadden lost her race to represent Florida House District 106, but she was one of about a dozen volunteers at David Holden’s former headquarters.

“Today, we are trying to cure provisional ballots, and that means we are trying to make sure that they count,” McFadden said. 

Two days after Election Day, the volunteers were trying to get in touch with people who were given a provisional ballot. Those ballots are given to people who want to officially record their vote if there are questions about their eligibility.

Chris Raleigh was Holden's campaign manager. He oversaw the effort to contact provisional voters in Collier County.

"We’re helping people that are Democrats and NPAs and Republicans who didn’t get their votes turned in," Raleigh said. "We’re making sure their voice is heard."

Raleigh said a big reason people were asked to vote on a provisional ballot was not for discrepancies such as mismatching signatures or misspelled names, as is the case in other states. He said most were voters who had been purged without notice from their voting precinct roster.

“They were told they are not an active voter anymore, but they registered," Raleigh said. "They live at the same place; nothing has changed except they didn't vote. And, we don’t have as far as I understand — and I might sound foolish — but I don’t think we have a use it or lose it law.”

Raleigh also said volunteers were scouring the county, trying to find the provisional voters because the deadline to validate those ballots was 5 p.m. Thursday.

After that, the local supervisor of elections will review the ballots by hand to see if they will be counted or not.

Heather Doane is from the Collier County Supervisor of Elections office.

“Our canvassing board reviews each of those ballots," Doane said. "The staff will recommend to the canvassing board acceptance or rejection based on state law, and the evidence that they were able to gather, which could include if someone came in to provide that information themselves."

Doane said people that vote on provisional ballots are informed of where they can take information to validate the infomation on question and the deadline to do so at the polling location. 

Doane also said the process for reviewing the provisional ballots individually begins Friday, Nov. 9.

People can call their county’s supervisor of elections office or check online to see if their vote was counted. WGCU has a list of links, phone numbers and addresses to do so, which you can find here.

Andrea Perdomo is a reporter for WGCU News. She started her career in public radio as an intern for the Miami-based NPR station, WLRN. Andrea graduated from Florida International University, where she was a contributing writer for the student-run newspaper, The Panther Press, and was also a member of the university's Society of Professional Journalists chapter.
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