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Election officials report voter intimidation at polling places in Volusia and Seminole counties

Seminole County Supervisor of Elections Chris Anderson urges voters to vote early before the Nov. 8 General Election. Image: Orange County Supervisor of Elections via Facebook
Seminole County Supervisor of Elections Chris Anderson urges voters to vote early before the Nov. 8 General Election. Image: Orange County Supervisor of Elections via Facebook

Central Florida elections officials say there's a problem with election misinformation and voter intimidation.

The supervisors of elections also want people to know that their vote is secure and that they should consider voting early.

At a press conference Tuesday, Volusia County supervisor Lisa Lewis said it's all well and good for people to be passionate about their political views.

"But when you start attacking people that are coming in, even verbally, to vote, and trying to discourage them or scare them from coming in to vote because they're worried about their safety, that's a problem," she said.

Lewis said Volusia has seen that problem at two early voting sites.

Seminole County supervisor Chris Anderson said voters complain that they're being verbally accosted.

"And we had intimidation happen toward our poll workers," Anderson said.

The supervisors underscored the importance of relying on trusted sources of information -- like their offices -- rather than social media when it comes to voting information.

Supervisors say vote early

The supervisors -- from Lake, Osceola, Orange, Seminoe and Volusia counties -- came together to encourage residents to vote early because turnout has been low.

Osceola County supervisor Mary Jane Arrington said early voting is safe and secure but, most of all, it's convenient. With Election Day next Tuesday, only about 17 percent had voted in her county.

"This is the lowest turnout I've ever seen," Arrington said. "I mean these numbers that I have in early voting, 16 doesn't, 14 doesn't even compare to those. I'm really concerned that people are going to stay home."

The election officials cited disengaged voters -- especially the younger ones -- and misinformation that, in some cases, tells people they should vote ONLY on election day.

All the early voting locations are open through Saturday. In Orange, Osceola and Seminole counties, they’re open on Sunday, as well.

Joe Byrnes came to WMFE/WMFV from the Ocala Star-Banner and The Gainesville Sun, where he worked as a reporter and editor for several years. Joe graduated from Loyola University in New Orleans and turned to journalism after teaching. He enjoys freshwater fishing and family gatherings.