Updated: Oct 2, 8:30am
A link to a Democratic-leaning voter guide has been removed on the Broward County Supervisor of Elections website, a high-traffic, governmental destination that local Republican leaders say is no place for such partisan information.
The League of Women Voters’ guide had been posted in a prominent location on the Broward elections’ home page. After several calls of concern and a proactive effort made by Broward GOP Chairman Richard DeNapoli and members of the Broward REC, it was removed.
Instead, a link to the league’s website was relocated under the “Voter Education” heading, where links to the NAACP, School Board, Vote Smart and Rock the Vote are also listed.
In the throes of election season, elections supervisor websites can provide valuable, nonpartisan information to the average voter, such as polling locations, instructions on voting, financial disclosures and candidate information.
But political leaders around the state have been disturbed by a new brand of educational material popping up on governmental elections websites across the state: links to voter guides and voter-education sites, which typically offer information designed to influence the voter to lean toward a particular party.
Broward elections officials were unclear as to why the link was provided on a site obligated to remain nonpartisan.
“I’m not sure how the links are chosen, but I do know that we have a very good partnership with the Broward County School Board and the League of Women Voters,” said Mary Cooney, spokeswoman for the Broward Elections Supervisor’s Office. “I’m sure at the time, they were put on our site for a valid reason, but I could not tell you what that was since I was not involved back then.”
She was “unfamiliar” with one of the links, Vote Smart.
Cooney said she would speak to Supervisor Brenda Snipes about the possibility of removing the sites.
DeNapoli said the problem he and his members had with the League of Women Voters’ guide is that the group claims to be nonpartisan, but its voter guide appears politically slanted. Recommendations to vote against all of the Republican-led amendments appearing on the Nov. 6 ballot have since been made by the League.
Stafford Jones, chairman of the Alachua County Republican Party, said he is having a similar problem with his county’s election website. The League of Women Voters’ guide is the first link listed at the top of the site’s home page, right under a link to the Nov. 6 slate of candidates.
“They are designed to illicit a response based on what is good or bad for government, not what is good or bad for the taxpayer,” Jones said.
Jones said elections office officials told him that they would be happy to post another source along with the guide, but refused to remove it. At his suggestion, the Collins Center for Public Policy Amendment Analysis was posted, but only under the League of Women Voters link.
Despite what he described as a good relationship with the county elections supervisor, Jones said he is not content to let it end there. When he reluctantly agreed to adding the Collins Center site as a compromise, the League of Women Voters had not publicized its political recommendations. A few days ago, the group came out urging voters to reject all the ballot amenments.
Jones and DeNapoli are both concerned about the practice of putting any voter guide on government elections sites.
“If you do it for one, then where do you draw the line?” Jones wondered.