Florida Voters in Charge, a political action organization that has come under fire as election supervisors around the state report suspected fake pro-gambling initiative petitions being submitted to their offices, has replied to what it calls “careless claims.”
FVIC legal counsel Jim McKee said in an email that charges of impropriety are being made “in many instances” by persons and groups seeking to keep a proposal to change the state constitution and expand casino gaming from appearing on the ballot.
In early December, supervisors of elections from six Florida counties — Duval, Gulf, Pinellas, Marion, Brevard, and Bradford — notified the Secretary of State’s Office that their offices were receiving fraudulent constitutional initiative petitions from signature collectors working for Florida Voters in Charge.
Candidates for the upcoming municipal elections in Cinco Bayou, Mary Esther, and Valparaiso are listed below. Counsel for the Secretary of State produced proof of thousands of allegedly faked signatures on pro-gambling petitions and listed 13 collectors who had submitted them for validation in a letter directing the matter to Attorney General Ashley Moody’s office.
Were They Using Fake Signatures?
According to the document, several signatures were found to have been collected by “dead voters.” Mismatched signatures and one individual circulating signatures on petitions signed on another circulator’s form were also discovered.
Wesley Wilcox of Marion County discovered his and his wife’s signatures on petitions they hadn’t signed. Suspicious signatures on Florida Voters in Charge petitions have lately begun to surface in Northwest Florida. McKee asserted that FVIC does not gain in any manner by submitting petitions that cannot be verified by election supervisors, as other stories indicated.
According to McKee, FVIC needs to pay elections supervisors to examine every petition form submitted, and illegitimate petitions add to the workload and slow down the counting of valid petitions. Invalid petitions also make it harder for FVIC to evaluate how close it is to hitting the threshold needed to get the proposed amendment on the Florida ballot.
According to Wilcox, president of the Florida Supervisor of Elections Association, the group must submit 891,589 verified signatures by Feb. 1, and 625,799 had been approved as of Tuesday morning.
“FVIC and its contractors have fired thousands of petition gatherers who failed to meet FVIC and its contractors’ quality control standards,” McKee said. “FVIC and its contractors will continue to do everything possible to ensure full compliance with Florida law while working to give Florida voters a choice in the 2022 election.”
How far do the Petitions Have to go?
It looks that charges will be brought against some of the petition circulators. The office makes it plain that the fraud claims are being handled seriously in a letter dated Jan. 21 and signed by the state’s Chief Deputy Attorney General John Guard.
According to Guard’s letter, the Attorney General’s Office has authorized the statewide prosecutor to coordinate investigative activities and any criminal filings with the Florida Department of Law Enforcement and concerned state attorney’s offices.
McKee also blasted “recent media reports” in his email that Las Vegas Sands, a massive casino empire built by the late Republican mega-donor Sheldon Adelson and still run by his family, is behind the push for a constitutional amendment that would allow Florida card rooms to be converted to Las Vegas-style casinos.
According to the Florida Division of Elections website, Florida Voters in Charge received $51,564,100 in contributions to their petition collection campaign. Las Vegas Sands contributed $49,564,000 to the total. More information will be released on this topic throughout the week as this is an ever-changing topic.
Last Updated on by Ryan