JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – With Florida lawmakers now considering making voting changes, some people are asking questions about a letter recently sent out by Duval County Supervisor of Elections Mike Hogan.
The letter is asking people to update their signatures with his office.
”It’s not required by the state but it’s recommended because people’s signatures change,” Hogan said.
Each election cycle News4Jax has reported problems with some vote-by-mail ballots. For example, signatures don’t match those on file at the Supervisor of Elections Office.
During the presidential election in November, there were 706 vote-by-mail ballots that had questionable signatures. Of those, 114 were rejected. Those votes did not count.
That is why Hogan says he sent this letter out to registered voters who have not updated their signature with the office in the past 10 years.
“It’s a preventative action it’s beneficial to the voter who will or might vote by mail,” Hogan says.
The letter specifically says participation is completely voluntary.
That statement has some questioning why the letter was sent now.
“If we don’t participate when we go to vote will their (sic) be a sudden problem?” an email from one News4Jax viewer asks.
Hogan said he fielded similar questions from both Republicans and Democrats who are suspicious of changes given everything that’s happened since the November election.
“I am not surprised anymore. But kind of confused because the letter is pretty straightforward because it says if you don’t want to participate you don’t have to,” Hogan said. “Everybody is on high alert as it relates to voter fraud.”
News4Jax asked for Florida Senator Audrey Gibson’s opinion.
“Sending out letters to update signatures now while many In the community are very much aware of the debate we are having In Tallahassee related to an election bill that is not needed, inherently makes people suspicious,” the former Minority Leader said in a statement. “Not to mention that egregious voter suppression bills are being heard in many states.”
Florida’s Senate has an elections reform bill that just this week removed a portion requiring wet signatures, meaning any signature written on a hard copy with a pen or other writing device.
News4Jax also spoke to Jerry Holland. He once led the state Association Supervisors of Elections.
“It’s always good to encourage voters to update their signature. I think it’s a proactive move,” Holland said. “There was a concern among SOEs that the new legislation would require SOEs to use the most recent signature captured, even if it was done with the electronic signature pad used during voting. If this had been the case, it would have been problematic, the quality of those signature pads are so poor.”
Hogan says a signature update now will just help in the future and could keep ballots from being rejected.
Voters can mail an update to the office or do so online at duvalelections.com.