Last week a judge ordered the state to make public a long list of potential felons, but Tuesday’s effort left more questions than answers. Sam Heyward lost part of a leg to diabetes. Now he is fighting to make sure his vote is counted this fall. Sam got into legal trouble almost 30 years ago, then got his right to vote restored in 1986.
But Sam’s name is one of more than 47,000 on a list of potential names to purge from the voter list.
"I was just as surprised as I guess so many other people were,” explains Heyward.
As state voting officials sought to quell fears from four years ago when thousands were turned away at the polls, they were at a loss to explain why Sam’s name was on the list.
"I don’t know, I can’t answer that,” says State Elections Director Dawn Roberts.
"Again Mike, I think it’s unfortunate that someone from clemency couldn’t be here today,” says Glenda Hood, Secretary of State.
During the hour and a half briefing, state elections officials repeatedly made it clear that the responsibility for checking the accuracy of the names on this list was up to local elections supervisors, and a recurring theme was that if there were questions of accuracy, the benefit of the doubt would go to the voter.
"We are not interested; we are not trying to take people of the roles who shouldn’t be taken off the rolls,” explains Citrus County Elections Supervisor Susan Gill.
Despite the assurances, Sam Heyward still has his concerns.
"I guess I’m still a little skeptical, you know waiting on Election Day to see if this is going to be a problem or will all of this be cleared up,” Heyward adds.
That concern is likely felt by the thousands who, like Sam, have already been identified as being on the list erroneously. State officials say those on the list will have at least two chances to provide correct information to local supervisors prior to Election Day.
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