Florida Gov. Rick Scott’s division of elections has issued an opinion that could make it tougher to uncover elections fraud.
And in Miami-Dade County, the state’s hotbed of absentee shenanigans, the elections chief who sought the opinion is eager to follow suit.
In the Nov. 18 opinion, Division of Elections Director Maria I. Matthews wrote that county elections supervisors may shield from the public Internet Protocol addresses identifying the origin of absentee-ballot requests.
Penelope Townsley, the Miami-Dade elections supervisor, plans to keep IP addresses secret.
Had that policy been in place earlier this year, the Miami Herald would not have been able to conduct an investigation that led to the incarceration of Miami Democratic Congressman Joe Garcia’s former chief of staff.
Matthews wrote that if elections supervisors deem IP addresses to be information “necessary” to keeping absentee-ballot records, as Miami-Dade has in recent months, then the addresses are exempt from public disclosure — with a glaring exception.
Political parties, committees, candidates and their campaigns — the very people who have engaged in fraud — will still be able to obtain the information.
So will elections administrators, canvassing board members and voters seeking records of their own ballots. But not the public.