TALLAHASSEE — Pinellas County’s chief elections official firmly put Gov. Rick Scott on notice Monday: She will refuse his administration’s order and will continue to urge voters to drop off their absentee ballots at satellite locations.
Supervisor of Elections Deborah Clark said her 6-year-old system of drop-off sites is “in full compliance with the law” and the state has known about them because they are included in plans she sends to the state to get federal voter education money.
“I plan to continue using them, including in the impending special primary election,” Clark told Secretary of State Ken Detzner, Scott’s chief elections adviser.
Detzner last week issued a surprise directive in which he ordered elections officials not to “solicit return” of absentee ballots at locations other than an elections office or branch, because it’s not allowed by law. He said he acted after questions from supervisors Brian Corley in Pasco County and Chris Chambless in Clay County.
In Clark’s response, she voiced disappointment Detzner never sought the opinions of the 67 county supervisors of election before he issued his Nov. 25 directive.
Clark said her drop-off sites are staffed by her deputies, who by law have the same power as a supervisor and who keep watch over locked ballot boxes with numbered seals. The boxes are transported nightly to her headquarters to be canvassed, she said. “I am confident that the drop-off locations maintained throughout Pinellas County are secure,” Clark wrote.
The state had no immediate response to Clark’s letter.