Much information about voters is matter of public record under Florida laws

Much information about voters is matter of public record under Florida laws

Sandra Senger of Fort Myers used some of the strongest language in her vocabulary.

“Holy Toledo!” she exclaimed.

Sandy was reacting when I told her that it was legal for Florida elections officials to give information about voters to political campaign staffs — stuff like our names and addresses, what party we are registered to, whether or not we’ve voted in previous elections and more.

She was upset because on the day before the deadline for mailing in absentee ballots she received phone calls from two campaigns saying they knew she hadn’t voted yet.

They urged her to get with it and mail in her ballot.

She considers the calls a violation of her privacy. But, said Lee County Supervisor of Elections Sharon Harrington, that information is public record under Florida’s Sunshine Laws.

Campaigns sign up to get the voter lists automatically and the elections office emails the lists to them as soon as the information is available.

Harrington said she was swamped with calls in last Tuesday’s primary from people fed up with all the TV negative ads, the automated phone calls and the mailboxes full of fliers.

There is nothing she can do, except follow the law.

Sandy said the women in her coffee group were grousing so much that it chilled their desire to vote.

That’s troubling.

Voting issues

There is equipment that would tell officials whether someone has voted at any given time on Election Day.

It costs $1,500 to $2,000 for each of the 171 polling places, ($256,500 to $342,000). Harrington said a recession isn’t the time to spend that kind of money.

By the way, that polling place near you may disappear. So many people are getting absentee and early voting ballots that the election day voting is way down.

Harrington is working on surveying the voting from the primary and may consolidate some precincts if they have too few voters.

Religious freedom

I am not a communicant of the Roman Catholic Church, but I rushed over to the nearest parish to make a donation to help fight the government’s order that Catholic institutions must pay for birth control services for their employees.

I tell you, that sort of government interference on freedom of religion is more dangerous to the integrity of the republic than 100,000 terrorists.

Bush quote

Rusty Shank, who winters in Cape Coral, was confused by a quotation in last week’s column involving murderer and rapist Willie Horton and his effect on the 1988 presidential campaign of Democrat Michael Dukiakis and President George Bush.

He wanted to know who the “we” was when Bush said “I guess we didn’t handle that Horton thing too well.”

Politicians often use “we” instead of “I” to soften what they say.

That is what Bush was doing.

Retired Pulitzer Prize-winning editor Dan Warner ran newspapers in Massachusetts, Maine and Ohio. He was formerly a News-Press senior writer and editorial board member. Email: djwarner1@yahoo.com.