Professor Finds Collier County No. 1 In State For Invalid Minority Absentee Ballots

Jan 22, 2013

A Florida professor found that Collier County had the highest percentage in the state of African-Americans whose absentee ballots were invalidated in the 2012 general election.

Florida’s 2011 voting bill cut the state’s early voting days from 14 to 8. Because there were fewer early voting days during last November’s elections, more people than ever cast absentee ballots in an effort to avoid long lines.

But some nuances to voting absentee—like signing your signature the right way— meant a lot of ballots were invalidated.

Daniel Smith, a University of Florida professor of political science, found that the numbers were higher among minorities.

“If there were long lines, African Americans where pushed to absentee ballots and had a much higher rejection rate than white voters,” Smith said during a conference call with the press. “I think that is a concern.”

Smith says in Collier County six percent of African Americans had invalid absentee ballots—that’s compared to a little more than one percent among white voters.

Tim Durham, Collier County chief deputy elections supervisor, says he is glad Gov. Rick Scott is advocating for more early voting days.

“One of the advantages of early voting over absentee voting is that if there is there is something wrong with the voter’s record or identification or something like this—if there is something problematic, there is an opportunity for the voter that is voting in person to correct it,” Durham says.

Historically, minority voters have been more likely to use early voting than absentee ballots during elections.