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Nelson, Hillsborough and Pinellas election supervisors weigh in on absentee ballot changes

Nelson, Hillsborough and Pinellas election supervisors weigh in on absentee ballot changes

TAMPA, Fla. (970 WFLA) -- Florida Senator Bill Nelson said he's fed-up with the latest elections controversy.  He told reporters in Tampa Tuesday he's against Secretary of State Ken Detzner's plan to limit the number of absentee ballot drop-off sites in each county.

“I call it like I see it and this could portend a very bad thing for the state of Florida if we let them get away with this - we’re not going to,” Nelson said.

Nelson stops short of blaming the decision on politics, though he points out that the timing of Detzner's decision is "extraordinary" because of Pinellas County's contentious congressional race that heads to a special primary election next month.

Pinellas County Elections Supervisor Debra Clark said she's gotten the go-ahead to allow absentee ballot drop-off sites around the county, in spite of a new state rule.  Clark said Sec. Detzner contacted her earlier this week to tell her he won't take her to court if she refuses to limit the number of those drop off sites.

“I just felt that I needed to respond right away because next Tuesday we’re mailing 77,000 ballots and in those ballot slips - with the ballots – with the voting instructions - all of the ballot drop off sites are listed,” Clark said.

Detzner wants counties to only accept absentee ballots at elections offices, not other satellite locations in hopes of avoiding fraud. Clark and others believe that will prevent a lot of people from voting.

Hillsborough County Elections Supervisor Craig Latimer said he's not thrilled with the latest state elections directive that limits an absentee ballot drop-off locations to just elections offices.

“In Hillsborough County this last election we had 15 early voting sites, 13 of those sites were libraries around the county depicted in this map. Let me just remind you Hillsborough County is a county of thousand square miles, so we’re talking about convenience to voters,” Latimer said.

Latimer met with Sen. Nelson who assures he'll pursue legal action to stop the rule from going into effect.

Photo credit Getty Images


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