The Collier County Democratic Party has launched an initiative to reactivate the thousands of voters who have seen their voting status downgraded by Collier County Supervisor of Elections Jennifer Edwards.
An investigative report by the USA Today Florida Network has revealed that 60 percent of Collier voters who last cast ballots in 2016 have been placed on “inactive” status by the supervisor of elections.
That’s a rate twice as high as the next highest county in Florida and it appears attributable to practices unique to the Collier elections office.
Voters on “inactive” status may be less likely to receive important voter information. Some are calling this voter suppression.
“Voters who have moved onto the inactive list are treated like second-class citizens,” Kristen Clarke, president and executive director of the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Right Under Law, told reporters. “The end goal is to discourage participation.”
Juan Penalosa, executive director of the Florida Democratic Party, said Edwards’ office is violating the spirt of state law governing voter rolls.
“They go over the top,” he told the news media. “They’re kind of double-dipping to remove voters. And the two (methods) they choose to use are the ones that are most onerous to people of color and young voters and voters that tend to be Democrats.”
Penolosa was referring to a practice in Edwards’ office of distributing mailers in which recipients must check a box on the card and return it to the Supervisor of Elections in order to preserve their active voting status.
While other counties do the same thing if voters have missed two federal elections, Collier is more aggressive, doing so after only two years.
The upshot is that more than 22,000 Democrats in Collier County have been placed on “inactive” status.
“The Collier County Democratic Party is launching an initiative to contact all of the Democrats that were placed on the inactive voter list and get their status changed to ‘active” again,’ Collier County Democratic Party Chair Annisa Karim said. “We need everyone’s voice in this process and we know that your vote is your voice.”
This is an all-hands-on-deck moment and we need your help.