NASSAU COUNTY, Fla. – Since its refurbishment in October 2021, the homepage of the Nassau County Supervisor of Elections Office website welcomes visitors with a fullscreen panel featuring a big, red link inviting them to “report election fraud.”
The link transports users to the Florida Division of Elections website, specifically its election integrity page, which is also linked on that site’s homepage front and center.
“I would tend to agree that having it front and center, very first thing you see on the website, that doesn’t send the right message, I think, to the average voter who may be trying to just look up some information when the next election is, how they can register to vote and then all of a sudden you see this big warning almost,” said Abdelilah Skhir, voting rights policy strategist with the American Civil Liberties Union. “I think it does tend to it does have that potential to kind of stoke those fears.”
Voting rights advocates say they’re concerned that the way these links are prominently featured will legitimize the false narrative of widespread voter fraud in the 2020 election.
Those false claims have been credited with ushering in a series of local and state election reform measures that were widely criticized as “voter suppression.”
“Where the danger comes from, stoking those suspicions and those fears for the average person when lawmakers really do know better,” Skhir said. “And that is really what we’re concerned about because, when you continue to stoke those fears, you start undermining democracy itself.”
“Attempts to criminalize voting reflect nothing more than misinformation used by anti-voter activists and politicians as a Trojan horse to create barriers to voting and advance their agenda,” said Poy Winichakul, voting rights staff attorney with the Southern Poverty Law Center. “From new election criminalization laws that encourage harassment of voters, like SB 524, to attempts to make voting less accessible, like SB 90, it’s important to call out and stand up to these barriers to voting wherever we see them.”
According to the Florida Division of Elections, 262 Elections Fraud Complaint forms were received by the department in 2020, and 75 were referred to legal authorities.
“There is no rampant voter fraud. No investigation locally or nationally has ever been found to have rampant voter fraud,” Winichakul said. “And we are really concerned that this voter fraud justification has been amplified way out of proportion, way out of, to give it such meaning that would create a justification for barriers to voting, like we see in legislation that has been recently passed.”
News4JAX received an emailed response to its questions from the Nassau County Supervisor of Elections Janet Adkins:
- News4JAX: What prompted the office to so prominently feature the link on its website?
- Adkins: “The link was placed on the homepage of our website to inform citizens that complaints of voter fraud can be reported to the Department of State for preliminary investigation.”
- News4JAX: When was that link added to that site?
- Adkins: “The Elections Fraud link has always been available on our website. In 2021, our website was redesigned. The Elections Fraud button was displayed more prominently for informational purposes to the citizens.”
- News4JAX: How many submissions has the page garnered since that link was posted?
- Adkins: “The Elections Fraud button directly links to the Department of State’s website. The Elections Fraud Complaint webpage provides a voter fraud hotline and Complaint Form for concerned citizens interested in contacting the State.”
- News4JAX: How many of the submissions led the office to discover actual instances of voter fraud?
- Adkins: “The Department of State has not contacted us on any submissions that may have been reported using the link from our website.”
- News4JAX: How many instances of voter fraud did Nassau County experience in the 2020 and 2021 elections?
- Adkins: “There were six instances of potential voter fraud in the 2020 General Election forwarded to the State Attorneys’ office. In 2021, we had a vote-by-mail election and identified no potential voter fraud issues.”
On Friday, the day after this article was first published, the Nassau County supervisor of elections released this response to the story:
Nassau County Elections Office launched a new website in October 2021, transitioning to a fully ADA-compliant .gov domain. The website features a “Report Voter Fraud” button that allows voters to report suspected voter fraud to the Florida Department of State.
“The News4Jax article wrongly implies that this feature is ‘stoking concern of mistrust.’ Nothing is further from the truth.” stated Supervisor of Elections Janet H. Adkins. “This feature has been available on the website for 20 years as a convenience to our voters. Everything we do in the Nassau County Supervisor of Elections office is focused on transparency and building trust in our elections.”
To increase the public trust in Nassau County elections, Supervisor Janet Adkins has initiated an Advisory Council consisting of various community members from all demographics, including party affiliation, gender, race, age, etc. The council provides an opportunity for increasing trust, improving transparency, and two-way communication between the Elections Office and the citizens of Nassau County.
Our office plans to launch a mobile app in the coming weeks. This new technology will allow our voters to have immediate access to election information and stay connected throughout the election cycle.
“Election security and the integrity of Nassau County’s voter rolls are top priorities for my staff and me as we prepare for the upcoming elections. We will report voter fraud and ensure every election in Nassau County is conducted fairly and with the highest level of accuracy. I encourage any citizen with knowledge of voter fraud in Florida to contact the Department of State at 850-245-6500″ -Supervisor of Elections Janet H. Adkins.
For any questions or election-related concerns, don’t hesitate to contact 904-491-7500 or info@VoteNassauFL.gov.
The Citizen Election Advisory Council met Friday afternoon.