JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – This might sound scary, but if you’re registered to vote in Florida, anyone can get their hands on your name, date of birth, address, and party affiliation.
That’s because that information, along with various other details, is considered public record under Florida law and it’s available by request to anyone who asks for it – free of charge.
In fact, every time someone registers to vote, 38 different pieces of personal information are collected and tied to that person.
This is noteworthy because registered Democrats throughout the state recently received scam emails from someone posing as the Proud Boys, a far-right group. The emails said the sender had recipients' personal information and told them to vote as instructed – or else.
“You will vote for Trump on Election Day or we will come after you,” the message said in part. “Change your party affiliation to Republican to let us know you received our message and will comply. We will know which candidate you voted for. I would take this seriously if I were you.”
Even though the emails claim the sender “gained access into the entire voting infrastructure,” the truth is a lot less cloak-and-dagger than that.
While your local election supervisor won’t release that information, the state will, according to Robert Phillips, chief elections officer for the Duval County Supervisor of Elections.
“We get a lot of phone calls – ‘How did they get my text number? How did they get my email?’” Phillips told News4Jax.
He said the state provides a monthly disc that’s comprised of all registered voters in Florida. It includes voter registration information, like your party affiliation and physical address. Sometimes, he said, third parties take that information and sell it.
“Once it goes to third parties, it’s out of our hands,” Phillips said.
For this election cycle, Phillips said voters can only update their physical address and party affiliation. But he said you’ll have more options to opt-out during the next cycle.
“A phone number and email are not required,” he said.
It’s important to remember that someone else, whether it’s a third-party company or your neighbor, cannot see who you voted for. That’s because Florida has a secret ballot. So they won’t know unless you tell them.