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What you need to know about the 2020 elections across the greater Tampa Bay region.

Florida Joins National Database Network Aimed At Voter Accuracy

Voting sign

Florida’s application has been approved for membership in a program that allows exchanging voter-related data with other states, an effort long-sought by county supervisors of elections, Gov. Ron DeSantis announced Wednesday.

The approval, contingent on legislative funding, is expected to allow Florida to have more “accurate voter rolls, make voting easier and reduce costs to taxpayers,” DeSantis said in a prepared statement.

In August, DeSantis announced that Florida would seek to become the 29th state to participate in the Electronic Registration Information Center, known as "ERIC," a consortium of states that share voter registration information and other data.

Brian Corley, the Pasco County Supervisor of Elections, said membership with ERIC is supported by supervisors of elections in all 67 Florida counties, and participation will help give people more faith in the system.

"People always ask about - and we're going to see this en masse for 2020 - the integrity of, ‘how do I know my vote counts? How do I know the process is accurate and aboveboard and all that good stuff?’ By joining this consortium, it will only help us to further secure elections."

Florida lawmakers voted unanimously in February 2018 to support a measure that authorized then-Gov. Rick Scott to join ERIC. Scott, who is now a U.S. senator, signed the bill but never took further action to join the center.

DeSantis’ proposed $91.4 billion budget for the 2020-2021 fiscal year includes $75,000 to cover the state’s annual dues to participate in ERIC and an estimated $1.3 million to send mailers to eligible but unregistered voters every federal election cycle.

The Center, a Washington, D.C.-based non-profit, started with seven states and assistance from the Pew Charitable Trusts in 2012.

Data matches by the center can identify voters registered in two states, voters who have moved between states and voters who have died. That allows county elections officials to identify and remove people who are no longer eligible to vote.

Corley said most people registered to vote in more than one state have done so unintentionally, but “there are cases where people think they have the right to vote in multiple states because they might own property in Florida and say, New Jersey, or Florida and Massachusetts, for example. And that's illegal."

Corley said Florida's membership in ERIC should take effect at the beginning of 2020. The state cannot purge voter rolls in the 90-day window before the March election, so it has to be done before then.

I took my first photography class when I was 11. My stepmom begged a local group to let me into the adults-only class, and armed with a 35 mm disposable camera, I started my journey toward multimedia journalism.
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