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Are scammers trying to manipulate the election in Florida?

6:58 PM, Oct 25, 2012   |    comments
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Tampa, Florida -- Don't be surprised to see more scams aimed at influencing the vote in Florida.

That's the word from an independent watchdog group that's been keeping track of these things in our state. Increasingly elaborate and sophisticated attempts to influence the vote here in Florida, and possibly the outcome of the election.

"This is uncalled for," said Gene Kuhl.

The U.S. Navy Veteran from Tampa proudly served our country and has been an active voter for more than 50 years. And in all that time has "Never seen anything like this," he says.

When Kuhl became one of those phoney election letter recipients this past week, questioning his citizenship and his eligibility to legally vote, he was beside himself. Angry, the scrambling - worried.
 
"Where's my birth certificate, my passport?" he quickly wondered, "all this stuff that would verify your citizenship."

The investigation into those approximately 50 letters that have surfaced so far, post-marked in Seattle, continues.

Local, state, and now federal authorities are all involved.

"Our 29 electoral votes we have in Florida have become so important that people are willing to do almost anything to win," said  Yael Ossowski, bureau chief for the investigative journalism group Floridawatchdog.org.

Ossowski says the number of such scams is ramping up as the election gets closer.

He recently published an article pointing out other incidents including people falsely voting for others in Miami-Dade County, robocalls in Pasco County that intentionally gave Republican voters wrong information about early voting, and a group hired by the GOP that allegedly submitted hundreds of fraudulent registrations in Palm Beach County.

But could any of these scams individually or collectively influence the election outcome?

Ossowski reminds us the 2000 election came down to just over 500 votes.

"I think with Florida's history, I think with the efforts of all groups involved, I would say that there is some sort of effort and it could tip the election," said Ossowski.

Gene Kuhl hopes that won't be the case. This latest scheme by the way certainly won't end-up influencing his vote. Kuhl says he'd already cast his ballot.

But he's still concerned about the sanctity of the electoral process.

The very freedom he served this country for.

"Don't mess with the elections," he says, "Let them be free and the way they were intended to be."

Investigators are still asking anyone who may have received one of these bogus letters to first verify it with their local supervisor of elections office, and receive instructions on how to handle it from there.

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