State to give some voter data to feds | July 7
Voters deserve more privacy
The request for voter information from the Presidential Advisory Commission for Voter Integrity has many Florida voters concerned about the use, and abuse, of their personal information. I have also been concerned about the abuse of voter data since 2005, when the Florida Legislature changed the law to make it public information.
Today, anyone can pick up the phone, send an email, or stop by any election office to be supplied with any voter's record. No questions asked. Often, it's a candidate requesting voter information. Sometimes it's a reporter. Occasionally, it's a lawyer. Voter data is used for various purposes, often to contact voters directly.
The mailers sent by political action committees "shaming" voters by listing their voting record, along with their neighbors' voting activity, generate the most calls of complaint to our office. A close second are the commercial firms that request and receive the data for free and then publish it on the Internet.
What can someone learn by requesting a voter's record? Name, party affiliation, date of birth, physical and mailing addresses, the date they registered to vote and when they have voted. The record also includes whether they cast their ballot at their precinct, an early voting site or via mail. Some records include phone numbers and location of birth. Many include race or ethnicity.
In Florida, most voter records include either the last 4 digits of the Social Security number or the Florida driver's license number. However, Florida law protects this information, along with a voter's signature, from public view.
In November, the Florida Legislature will begin considering legislation for the 2018 session. Along with other supervisors of elections, I will be fighting for voters' privacy. Perhaps, ironically, it will be Washington's controversial request that ultimately motivates Tallahassee to protect our voters' information.
Lori Edwards, Polk County supervisor of elections, Bartow
State to give some voter data to feds | July 7
Wasteful and egotistical
Eight months after the election, and despite no substantial evidence, our president is still obsessed by the idea that voter fraud exists. Apparently, losing only one part of the election is still too much for his ego to handle.
Republicans are supposed to be against too much government and wasteful spending. How much is Donald Trump spending to prove that he's an even bigger winner than he is?
E.J. Race, Port Richey
Transparency for all
When the various offices of the new administration, and particularly the president, do not provide 100 percent information on everything, lack of transparency becomes the war cry, with claims that someone is trying to hide something.
Shouldn't transparency be a two-way street? By not providing all requested voter information, doesn't it appear Florida has something to hide?
Could it be that when data from all state records are consolidated and scrutinized by the committee, some interesting facts on voter issues, and perhaps fraud, may surface?
I hope none surfaces, but don't we owe it to the democratic system to give it a chance?
Nick Bozick, Seminole
Health care backlash from GOP governors July 10
Don't go backwards
I have a high school friend who fell in love with a woman with severe diabetes in the pre-Affordable Care Act era. This bright and lovely young woman, still in her 20s, required expensive care, including multiple surgeries and an organ transplant. When she exceeded the lifetime cap on medical expenses provided by her insurance company, she could only get coverage through Medicaid. My friend wanted to marry her, but realized that if they did so, it was only a matter of time before she would bankrupt both of them.
I attended their beautiful church wedding, where they affirmed vows but did not get legally married. They got power of attorney for each other and were fully invested in each other's lives, but always lived without that symbolic sanction of state-approved marriage, as many gay and lesbian couples did before legal gay marriage.
In their classic song about America, Simon and Garfunkel wrote words that apply just as well to this moment in our national health care debate for all citizens: "Let us be lovers, we'll marry our fortunes together."
Let's not go back to the pre-ACA era with Trumpcare. Let's celebrate life and love with no lifetime limits on care.
Liv Coleman, Bradenton
Hobby Lobby fined $3M for smuggled artifacts | July 6
Company's true colors
We now know the depth of the faith that Hobby Lobby professed in order to keep from having to pay for abortions and pregnancy protection for their employees.
The echo of their voices protesting that such things are against their faith rings a little less true now that we have witnessed that smuggling and thievery are acceptable in the brand of Christianity they practice.
George Scheitinger, Dunedin
Blanket restoration is a bad idea | July 7, letter
Reform rights restoration
I disagree with this letter. Gov. Rick Scott and Attorney General Pam Bondi want felons who have completed their sentences to jump another hoop in order to get their civil rights restored. The program is cumbersome, costly and the review committee only approves a few cases the few times a year they meet.
Many released offenders cannot afford it or feel it is just another hurdle for them to be fully a part of their community.
I hope that the drive for voter signatures to place the Voting Restoration Amendment on the November 2018 ballot is successful.
Melba Mobley, Valrico