SEMINOLE COUNTY, Fla. — A Seminole County elections official says the same organization that sent a voter registration form to someone’s dead cat is sending out thousands of mailers to Central Florida voters.
- Seminole elections official issues warning about voter mailers
- Official: Same group sent out mailer to dead cat in 2016
- Supervisor of Elections wants people to be aware of official mailers
Supervisor of Elections Michael Ertel says the mailers from the Center for Voter Information can be mistaken for official government mailers.
Maureen Block says her daughter was excited to see a voter registration form in the mail.
“She can’t wait to vote,” said Block, a Seminole County resident.
Block says her daughter almost filled out the form and sent it in.
“It looks official,” Block said. “It’s got her name printed out, her address and all her information.”
But the family then saw a social media warning from Ertel. Ertel warned the mailer, from a group called the Center for Voter Information in Washington, D.C., might look like it’s from an official government entity, but it’s not. The mailer includes a disclaimer in fine print at the bottom that says "CVI is not affiliated with state or location election officials." The prepaid envelope enclosed in the mailing also is addressed to the Seminole County Supervisor of Elections.
Ertel said in 2016, the same organization sent a voter registration letter that was addressed to someone’s dead cat.
“And they’re sending it to a dead cat in Seminole County, a dead dog in Denver, Colorado, and they’re sending it to people who have passed away in Pasco County,” Ertel said. “So they’re sending these things to people throughout the country, and it’s just bad data.”
A spokesperson for the Center for Voter Information says the national nonprofit uses commercial data that sometimes includes fictitious names people use for things such as magazine subscriptions. CVI says its only goal is to increase voter registration.
On its Facebook page, the Seminole County Supervisor of Elections Office has posted a warning to voters over mailers sent by a group called the Center for Voter Information. (Seminole County Supervisor of Elections Facebook page)
"Because no state makes available a list of individuals who are unregistered, CVI and other civic engagement groups use commercially available databases to reach prospective voters,” CVI Communications Director Kevin McAlister said.
“We’re always improving our process and developing the best technology available to determine who is unregistered so we can help register people of color, unmarried women, millennials and other members of the rising American electorate," he added.
Ertel says he thinks the mailers are meant to confuse voters by making them believe the forms are from an official government office.
“What we’re trying to do is run an efficient election, and when there’s this misinformation going out there from these external entities out of Washington, D.C., it’s our responsibility to let our voters know the difference between the truth and the politics,” Ertel said.
Ertel said he’s now working to make sure people are clear what mail from the Supervisor of Elections office looks like.
“I don’t know where this information would’ve gone had we given it to them, but I’m glad we had Mike to help us out with that, and I’m very grateful he posted that warning,” Block, the Seminole County mom, said.
Ertel said the best way to know whether election mailers are official is to call your local county Supervisor of Elections office. For Seminole County residents, Ertel has set up the website OfficialElectionMail.org to help voters determine what mail is from his office and what mail isn't.