A local election integrity task force in Orange County, Florida, was smeared by the Orlando Sentinel for challenging ballots in anticipation of Tuesday’s primary.
The Orange County Election Integrity Task Force — a nonpartisan group formed by the Florida Fair Election Coalition, which was created by the national Election Integrity Network — challenged 36 mail-in ballots over signature mismatch or other related issues last week, leading to 20 ballot rejections so far. Despite the task force’s nonpartisan status, the Sentinel labeled the group “Orange partisans” and part of the Orange County GOP. It also blamed the challenged ballots on a change to Florida’s election law that allows designees of a candidate or party “reasonable access” to “review or inspect ballots materials,” including mail-in envelopes and signatures.
Wendy Nissan, chair of the Orange County Election Integrity Task Force, believes her group was incorrectly labeled as Republican because the GOP, along with eight other candidates, gave the taste force access to inspect mail-in ballots. While in advancing the task force efforts it partners with the GOP, it is still a separate entity.
“Everyone is welcome to join our task force,” Nissan told The Federalist. “We are here for free and fair elections. We are here to support everyone’s concerns. And by people not taking signature matching seriously, it’s upsetting to us.”
The Sentinel article is just one example of a broader trend among election officials and media partisans: intimidating grassroots organizations and preventing citizen oversight into local elections. A report by the AZMirror paints Republican poll-watcher training as a hotbed for misinformation and unfounded claims of election fraud. A recent Washington Post editorial characterized Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis’s voter-fraud prosecutions as voter suppression. And another Politico article described the RNC’s poll-worker recruitment initiative as relying on “the party’s most prolific spreaders of false stolen-election theories.”
This is just another rhetorical tactic by the left to cast all Americans concerned about the lack of security surrounding mail-in-balloting and last-minute changes to election law as “election deniers” and dismiss their concerns.
Ben Petersen, the RNC Arizona communications director, told the AZMirror that the RNC’s poll-watcher training “emphasizes the need to comply with federal and state laws protecting voting rights.” Grassroots citizen organizations, then, are not intending to disrupt elections with grandiose claims of election fraud. Rather, they want to ensure local elections are conducted freely and fairly — and according to the law.
When the Orange County Election Integrity Task Force was inspecting ballots, Nissan said they were challenging ballots according to the same protocol as the election workers.
“We try our best to make sure the signatures match,” Nissan said. “We were not looking to send anything to canvas unless it’s egregious.”