Florida election officials referred 'irregularities' to federal prosecutors, documents show

The Florida Department of State quietly referred altered state election documents to federal prosecutors last week, marking the first known instance of state officials flagging irregularities to law enforcement this year.

In a letter sent on Friday, Bradley McVay, the Department of State's interim general counsel, asked the state's three U.S. attorneys' offices to investigate "certain irregularities" related to the vote-by-mail process in at least four counties.

The referral centers on altered dates on forms sent to voters to remedy errors on mail-in ballots, known as "cure affidavits."

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Those affidavits are supposed to notify voters that they must return the forms by 5 p.m. on Nov. 5 — the day before the general election. But records released by the Department of State show that some affidavits were altered to notify voters to return the forms by 5 p.m. on Nov. 8.

Email exchanges released publicly on Wednesday by the Department of State suggest that the altered affidavits may be tied to the Florida Democratic Party.

In one email to Florida Elections Division Director Maria Matthews, Citrus County Supervisor of Elections Susan Gill said that a voter who had received one of the altered forms received a phone call from a number associated with the Florida Democratic Party. 

"They have obviously gotten the deadlines for the [vote-by-mail ballots] and the Provisionals mixed up, but a bigger problem is the fact they actually changed one of the [Division of Elections] Forms," Gill wrote.

In another email to Matthews on Nov. 8, Okaloosa County Supervisor of Elections Paul Lux also indicated that the altered affidavits had come from the state Democratic Party. 

"Please pass the word to the FDP that they can't arbitrarily add their own deadline to your form or VBM cures!!" Lux wrote. "This is crazy!!"

A spokesperson for the Florida Democratic Party did not immediately respond to The Hill's request for comment.

The altered forms were sent to voters in Okaloosa, Citrus, Santa Rosa and Broward counties. Broward County in particular has emerged as the main battlefield in a bitter recount fight in the closely watched Senate race between Sen. Bill NelsonClarence (Bill) William NelsonAl Franken says he 'absolutely' regrets resigning Democrats target Florida Hispanics in 2020 Poll: Six Democrats lead Trump in Florida match-ups MORE (D) and Gov. Rick Scott (R).

It's not clear by the documents released how many people may have received the altered forms. 

Scott saw his lead over Nelson shrink significantly in the days after Election Day as new vote counts from Broward and Palm Beach counties trickled in. The narrow margin prompted Florida Secretary of State Ken Detzner (R) to order a recount in the race on Saturday.

In recent days, Scott and his allies have raised the prospect of rampant elections fraud — particularly in Democrat-heavy Broward — but have provided no evidence for those accusations.

Meanwhile, the Florida Department of Law Enforcement has said that it has not received any credible allegations of fraud or criminal activity. Likewise, the Department of State has said that election monitors dispatched to Broward have not seen any indications of fraud.

Sarah Revell, a spokeswoman for the State Department, said in an email on Wednesday that the agency is working with law enforcement officials to monitor suspected elections fraud and criminal activity. 

Under Florida law, making or using an altered form is a criminal offense. In his letter to prosecutors, McVay argued that the incorrect information on the affidavits amounted to an unlawful obstacle to voting.

"Altering a form in a manner that provides the incorrect date for a voter to cure a defect (or an incorrect method as it relates to provisional ballots) imposes a burden on the voter significant enough to frustrate the voter’s ability to vote," he wrote.

While the Senate race has emerged as the closest-watched contest in Florida, election officials are also recounting results of the state's races for governor and agriculture commissioner.