Leon Co. elections office receiving ‘problematic’ requests for voter information
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WCTV) - The Leon County Supervisor of Elections Office said they are being inundated with requests for protected voter information ahead of the August primary.
Supervisor of Elections Mark Earley said the requests appear to be coming from “outside groups” and have been phrased in an “intimidating fashion.”
“We’re getting lots of FOIA requests and public record requests that we take very seriously,” Earley said. “But they’re asking for information that is problematic from a security perspective.”
Earley said the requests are inquiring about “deep details” as it regards the county’s voting systems, audit, and registration system. Including “field names” and protected information like voter addresses, licenses, and social security numbers.
One such request, Earley said, was an audit record for every voter both active and inactive dating back to 2020.
“(They’re looking for us) to give away information that could be used to potentially hack into our systems, to make things appear that they were changed, or not changed,” Earley said.
Earley said such information is protected by statute and the requests appear “disruptive” in nature and intention.
“Some of them are phrased in a very intimidating fashion,” Earley said. “I think it’s out there less to get information that might help elucidate somebody’s understanding about elections, and more as a disruptive measure to cause problems for our offices.”
Earley said the requests are primarily being submitted from private citizens particularly from New Jersey but also in Leon County.
“There are various groups, that seem to be coordinating with each other,” Earley said.
Earley would not disclose the groups or where specifically the requests were coming from but assured that the county’s voting systems “are as bulletproof as we can get.”
“A lot of this validation or error checking becomes intimidating for our offices, but also for our voters,” Earley said.
Earley doubled down on there being no evidence of fraud in Leon County’s elections but called the requests a “coordinated assault” on his office’s ability to do their jobs.
“This is a concern and it does make our lives difficult but we’re in the business of protecting our voters and protecting their vote from this kind of intimidation,” Earley said.
Voters are protected from any forms of intimidation by Florida state law 104.0515 subsection 3. Earley said his office has procedures and partnerships in place from the federal, state, and local levels to make sure that elections are conducted securely.
“You can’t intimidate voters, if you want to intimidate our office, I say bring it, we’re not going to be intimidated we’re going to get our jobs done,” Earley said.
Earley said his office routinely answers to Freedom of Information Act requests, but would never release sensitive voter information.
“Everyone of those records has that data and each would have to be searched through individually, the reports would have to be generated individually by the voter and the redactions would have to be done individually,” Earley said.
Earley said voters can do their part by participating in the upcoming Aug. 23 primaries and “make their voices heard” knowing their information and right to vote are protected.
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