The vote that may not have been
USF professor gets first-hand glimpse of voter disenfranchisement
Published: Wednesday, November 7, 2012
Updated: Wednesday, November 7, 2012 04:11
David Johnson, a USF history professor, left the same residence he has lived in for six years at 10 a.m. Tuesday to vote in the same county he has been registered to vote in for nine years.
But when he reached the polling location, he was told he could only receive a provisional ballot. A poll worker told him he was not on the roster.
The date of birth and voter identification number Johnson provided, another poll worker told him, belonged to a David Johnson who lived in Orlando. Johnson said he was not the only one being told that he could only vote provisionally.
Johnson, who was scheduled to speak about voter suppression to a BBC panel on campus later Tuesday night, was indignant.
“There is very little evidence of actual voter fraud,” he said. “What they end up doing is keeping legitimate voters away, and I think it’s designed to do that.”
So he called the Tampa Bay Times, which posted a story about Johnson’s case at 1:25 p.m. Tuesday.
By 3 p.m. Johnson said he received a call from Earl Lennard, Supervisor of Elections in Hillsborough County, who told him his vote would be counted. There had been a mistake, and his records were moved to Orange County, where a David L. Johnson did indeed live.
But Johnson said while he is relieved his vote will count, he thinks the role of the media presence had something to do with it and isn’t sure about the status of the rest of the votes.
“The Supervisor of Elections — the Supervisor of Elections himself — gave me a call,” Johnson said. “I got a call from the Supervisor of Elections, but not everybody else did.”
He is still skeptical, he said.
“It’s pretty sloppy at the least, even if it’s not designed to prevent people from voting,” he said. “It’s pretty suspicious.”
Travis Abercrombie, public information coordinator for the Hillsborough County Supervisor of Elections office, said the case was the only such case he had heard of Tuesday.
But the history professor got a lesson of his own.
“I understood what it was like to feel disenfranchised,” he said.