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Naples voters confused over misleading text messages on mail-in ballots

Posted at 4:14 PM, Feb 15, 2024
and last updated 2024-02-19 18:32:25-05

NAPLES, Fla — Some voters in Collier County are confused by text messages thanking them for requesting mail-in ballots, even though they never did. Now the Supervisor of Elections in Collier County is warning residents about misinformation ahead of this year's primaries.

"Pretty alarming. Definitely disturbing for some of our voters," said Melissa Blazier, Supervisor of Elections, regarding the situation.

The Supervisor of Elections Office reports that more than a dozen voters in Naples lodged complaints about receiving suspicious text messages regarding mail-in ballots this week.

One shared to Fox 4 read "Good morning, I wanted to bring to your attention a message below I received yesterday about requesting a mail-in ballot and am very confused as to why I received this message… I need your help".

According to the election's office complaints have been coming in through phone calls, emails, and texts, with voters asking where these messages are coming from.

Blazier clarified that these messages didn't come from their office but from a Political Action Committee (PAC).

"A little Google search with addresses and finding a business location, I was able to speak with someone who passed a message on from me to the treasurer (of the PAC) who I spoke with in detail just really about the deception that's in these text messages and from what I understand, that treasurer resigned immediately," she explained.

"We always want to remind voters that we are the trusted source of voting elections information. Please reach to us directly and do not assume these text messages come from us" said Blazier.

Under Florida law, voter information is public, allowing PACs to get voter details and send mass texts. Blazier stressed the importance of checking message sources to avoid misinformation.

"If it's a paid political advertisement it has to have that PAC name or the candidate's name at the bottom of the text message," Blazier said.

Additionally, Blazier highlighted another way to tell if messages aren't from the Supervisor of Elections Office. "We wouldn't send messages with info about specific candidates. It's against the law for us to do that," she clarified.

This week, the Collier County Supervisor of Elections launched a text messaging service to keep voters informed about elections. Users can opt-in by texting COLLIERVOTES to 91896.

"By signing up voters will get text messages about upcoming registration deadlines, how to locate their precinct and when early voting opens up," Blazier explained.

The deadline to change party affiliation or register to vote this year is February 20th.