Woman gets voter registration form mailed to dead niece

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SEFFNER, Fla. (WFLA) – Several viewers reached out to 8 On Your Side after getting mailers with partially pre-completed voter registration forms in recent weeks.

Joanna Rydzewski of Seffner got two voter registration forms for her niece in the last month. But her niece never lived at that address, and she passed away in 2013.

“It was giving me the creeps because this person is deceased,” said Rydzewski. “Why are they looking for a deceased person?”

The form was sent from a group called Voter Participation Center, and was partially completed with her niece’s name and Rydzewski’s address. They do not share a last name.

Brian Corley, supervisor of elections for Pasco County, said his office has been inundated with calls about the mailers recently. While they are not illegal, they are upsetting for some voters.

“Imagine talking to the mother whose son would be voting age, but previously died of an overdose?” Corley said. “It’s embarrassing when a voter calls you and says I got one for a 9 year old daughter, or a pet.”

Corley said he doesn’t doubt the intentions of the organization behind the voter drive, but he does fault their execution, especially “at a time when we need the utmost confidence in voter security.”

Corley points out that there are numerous safeguards to prevent fraudulent voter registration and votes.

“There’s a myriad of things we do, it’s not as simple as just registering someone to vote,” said Corley. “Remember Florida is a state that requires photo and signature identification when you present yourself to vote. And if you’re a first-time voter and you’ve never presented yourself in-person – Early Voting or Election Day – and you’re voting by mail, you’re required to present ID.”

Rydzewski said she’s worried about voter fraud, and is concerned that someone with darker motives could have taken the form and tried to register and vote under her niece’s name.

“It makes me very upset,” said Rydzewski. “The system is broken, and we need to fix it.”

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