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A South Florida elections office confirmed the validity of claims in a voter’s video that party affiliations are shown on ballot return envelopes.
After a now-viral video exposed how party affiliations were noted on envelopes used to return ballots, the Palm Beach County Supervisor of Elections acknowledged that the identifications are, in fact, visible on the envelope bar codes. However, officials asserted that general election ballot envelopes will not have the same labeling.
Palm Beach County voter Tina Brown set off the controversy after posting a Facebook video about her discovery of the bar code differences between the envelope used to mail in her ballot as a registered Republican, and her brother’s who is a Democrat.
“This is crazy,” Brown told WPTV. “I’ve never had anything like this happen in my life.”
Brown and her brother, who lives at the same address, completed their ballots at home and were preparing to mail them in for the county’s primary election.
“He’s a registered Democrat and I’m a registered Republican,” Brown said. “So when we were doing our votes together, we were going to send it out together. It was going to be fun.”
Brown documented what happened in a video that she shared, explaining how she noticed there was a “D” within a series of numbers in the bar code of her brother’s return envelope, while hers contained an “R.”
“There are people who probably knew this,” she said in the video. “But I just found this out today.”
“I just want to warn all the people who want to vote by mail — you know how they give you these sleeves inside, you know, and they tell you, ‘Oh don’t worry. Your vote is going to be, you know, protected. Nobody’s going to know anything. Blah Blah blah.’ Well guess what? That’s bullsh–,” she added.
“Look at my brother’s, who’s a Democrat. It says 4212D. That’s Democrat. Then you go here because we’re the same address anyway — 4212R,” Brown continued in her video.
“OK. So your vote is supposed to be protected. Nobody’s supposed to know what you’re voting for but yet they put ‘R’ right here and ‘D’ right there. So a postal person could see this if they’re a Democrat and say, ‘Oh that’s an R. Let’s toss it. Let’s just chuck it, and we’ll keep this one,'” she said.
Speaking with WPTV after her video went viral, even getting President Trump to retweet a story on it, Brown again expressed her unease with the process.
“They can see who my political affiliation is, and I don’t like that,” she said. “We should not have our political affiliations on there.”
But the Palm Beach County Supervisor of Elections issued a statement in response, stressing that the ballots for general elections do not have the same identifiers visible.
It would be a federal crime for any post office employee to tamper with this process. We have received no such reports of anything like this happening Florida is a “Closed Primary” state, meaning voters can only vote for members of their party in a partisan race in the primary election. Because of this, voters are mailed ballots according to their party affiliation. For the General Election in November, voters can vote for candidates of any party, so there is only one ballot style in each precinct. Accordingly, there will be no indication on the ballot envelope as to the party of the voter.
Vicki Davis, the Supervisor of Elections in Martin County, also reacted to the video but did not believe there should be any concerns about fraud based on the labels.
“I don’t know that a postal worker would have time to go through ballots in their general workday and remove those ballots,” Davis said.
But with ongoing alarms about potential voter fraud, the video served to spike the concerns about universal vote-by-mail, which Trump has strongly criticized. Earlier this month, he encouraged absentee voting in Florida.
Whether you call it Vote by Mail or Absentee Voting, in Florida the election system is Safe and Secure, Tried and True. Florida’s Voting system has been cleaned up (we defeated Democrats attempts at change), so in Florida I encourage all to request a Ballot & Vote by Mail! #MAGA
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) August 4, 2020
Meanwhile, Brown told WPTV that she has been inundated with calls and emails since posting her video.
“Every single (call and email) has been positive, with the exception of about three, and we’re talking about thousands,” Brown said.
But she would still like to see the county come up with a new way of labeling ballots, though no plans have been announced to do so.
“This is not propaganda,” Brown said. “It’s just really, basically, just protecting the voter, whether you’re Democrat or Republican.”
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