US Elections Subcommittee examines voting issues in Florida

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. (AP/WSVN) — The U.S. House of Representatives Subcommittee is in Florida gathering information about potential voter suppression that will be presented to Congress.

The committee met Monday in Fort Lauderdale, one of several stops across the country.

“In our travels across the country and here in Florida, we see repeated attempts to suppress the vote,” said U.S. Rep. Marcia Fudge, D-Ohio.

Former gubernatorial Democratic candidate Andrew Gillum testified along with several other groups including Mi Familia and the Family Action Movement, which serve Hispanics and Haitians.

“In 2018, the elections in Florida also saw some inequities,” said Gillum.

U.S. Rep. G.K. Butterfield said the committee is trying to lay the legislative base for updating Section 4 of the Voting Rights Act. He also expressed concern over the state legislature’s recent move to require convicted felons who have served their sentence to pay all fines before they can vote, calling it a poll tax.

The subcommittee’s efforts come months after machine glitches during a recount process in the wake of the 2018 midterm elections resulted in protests outside of the Broward Supervisor of Elections Office in Lauderhill.

Broward’s poor ballot design contributed to tens of thousands of undervotes in both the Senate’s and the governor’s races.

“Unfortunately, there are laws that exist that disenfranchise,” said Gillum. “Importantly, 84,000 votes that were not qualified for counting, a recount process that didn’t consult the receipt.”

Gillum and others also complained of long lines at the polls and votes being discounted due to arbitrary signature mismatches, lack of help for non-English speakers and disparate training for poll workers.

Gillum also addressed possible Russian interference in Florida.

“We don’t know the details yet, but if the Russian government were involved in elections in 2016 and working with machine ballots that obviously had algorithms in them, we need to know to ensure that we’ve got electoral integrity.”

Robert Mueller’s report mentioned that the GRU, Russia’s largest foreign intelligence agency, tried to hack Florida’s elections system. A paragraph read in part, “In November 2016, the GRU sent spearphishing emails to over 120 email accounts used by Florida County officials responsible for administering the 2016 U.S. election.”

Broward County was among those cited. Dr. Brenda Snipes, the county’s former elections supervisor, addressed the email that was sent to her office.

“Those of us who use VR Systems all received the same email, so Broward was among them,” she said. “As far as I know, no one opened it.”

The subcommittee is scheduled to hold further hearings across the country and will present Congress with its recommendations at a later date.

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