Supervisor of Elections: Snowbirds may vote twice, difficult to detect

Snowbirds may vote twice, difficult to detect
Posted at 7:13 PM, Oct 24, 2016
and last updated 2016-10-25 06:57:58-04

As the first day of early voting unfolds, concerns of double voting have also surfaced. Southwest Florida is a hotspot for seasonal residents, which is raising the concern whether snowbirds have the ability to commit voter fraud by voting early in one state and then voting in another.

Some people say it's a problem locally and could possibly affect the general election. In Florida, voting twice in a federal election is a felony offense punishable by up to 5 years in prison.

There are more than 400,000 registered voters in Lee County, of those, close to 44% are registered Republican, 27.5% Democrat, and 28% "other". Those figures include snowbirds but how many of those registered voters may be voting twice in this upcoming election?

Clara Anne Graham, President of the League of Woman Voters, tells Four In Your Corner we may never know.

"I have had discussions with some snowbirds who say very proudly that they voted up north, came down here and voted down here," Graham said. "Now, to what degree this is happening, I have no idea."

Four In Your Corner sat down with the Lee County Supervisor of Elections to find out if there's any way to make sure seasonal residents are not voting in more than one state.  "Well, actually that is an issue we've tried to address it," Sharon Harrington said. " I think that if all the states get a central database and we can put it all together we may be able to catch people that might be voting twice but we have no way to check it."

Harrington tells Four In Your Corner, there is no database to make sure voters aren't registered in two or more states.

"If they're declaring Lee County, here as their legal residence, we have to give them a ballot. "They can also be declaring Colorado as their legal residence because we have no way to check it."

When Fox 4 asked if people could be voting for president twice, Harrington said: "possibly."

Four In Your Corner also reached out to the Department of State to find out if there is way to track people voting twice in the state of Florida and compare it to a database nationwide. Below is the response from a spokesperson with the Department of State.

The Department of State has authority to conduct preliminary investigations into any allegations of irregularities or fraud involving voter registration or voting, or candidate or issue petition activities. The Department may then report its findings to the Office of Statewide Prosecution or to the State Attorney for the judicial circuit in which the alleged violation occurred for prosecution, where warranted.

Here is a link to the Department of State's complaint form:

In response to the rest regarding checking against other states - To date, the State of Florida has been unable to fully participate in a cross-check program (such as ERIC) due to differences in states' public records laws. Florida law (Section 97.0585 of the Florida Statutes) makes certain voter information confidential, which is in turn precluded from disclosure by a state agency.