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Health News Florida

Robo Voter Calls Causing Confusion at Elections Offices

Sign reading "Vote precinct precinto"
Bobbie O'Brien
/
WUSF

Election Day is just weeks away and many of us are getting “robo” calls - computer generated telephone calls - asking for our vote or trying to help get us an absentee ballot.

The Manatee County Supervisor of Elections Office was flooded with hundreds of these calls starting a few weeks ago.

“What they’re doing when a person picks up the phone, they’re saying if you’d like to have an absentee ballot punch one and the when they punch one it dials directly into our office,” said Manatee Elections Supervisor Bob Sweat.

“People think it’s us calling and asking if they’ve got an absentee ballot or if they want an absentee ballot,” he said.

Sweat said many people get upset when his staff asks for “verifying information” so they can send out the absentee ballot because callers are confused and think the elections office called them directly.

Additionally, Manatee has gotten calls from people out of state and others who are not interested in an absentee ballot.

Sweat doesn’t want to discourage absentee voting, but he said the “robo” calls – because of the miscues and confusion – tend to waste time.

He doesn’t want to discourage voters from calling for an absentee ballot -- he suggests they call directly.

Manatee is not the only county experiencing the “robo” connections. Sarasota and Pasco counties also report hundreds.

In Pasco County, voters were called Tuesday and incorrectly told that early voting had started according to Pasco Elections Supervisor Brian Corley.

“As of noon, we had several hundred that had either called up," Corley said Tuesday afternoon. "I believe we had 50 to 60 to 70 that had in-person showed up in one of our offices.

“If the robo calls were to continue, that number would keep rising and rising,” he said.

Early voting in Florida starts Saturday, October 27, and runs through November 3.

Corely said late Tuesday he discovered that Organizing for America was generating the early voting robo calls. He contacted the field organizer about the incorrect information.