Commission candidate challenges residency of Anna Maria voters

Many Anna Maria Island residents were in for a surprise when they voted on Tuesday.

ANNA MARIA ISLAND, Fla. — James Keith was proudly wearing his “I voted” sticker even though he’s concerned his vote may not count.

“They didn’t have “I tried to vote stickers,” said Keith chuckling in frustration.

A tropical fish business owner, Keith was among 80 or so people who had their votes challenged at the polling location on Anna Maria Island Tuesday. They were forced to vote by provisional ballot, a practice which will be reviewed by the canvassing board later this week.

“First reaction was just to figure out why and what was going on,” said Keith. "There’s no reason I could think of that I should not be allowed to vote.”

Eighty may not seem like a lot, but it’s about 10 percent of the entire city of roughly 1,100 residents on Anna Maria. Keith was told his registration was challenged by Anna Maria Commission candidate Chuck Webb, who questioned if the those on the list were really residents of the island.

“It’s so unusual I’ve never seen (this situation),” said Manatee County Supervisor of Elections Mike Bennett of the challenges.

He says that while unusual, the challenges are completely legal. And while the maneuver will cause a review, the votes still count as long as those voting are in fact registered in Manatee County. 

“All of those ballots get reviewed and they do get counted,” said Bennett. “They don’t necessarily get counted tonight at 7:00, but they do get counted and we’ll have them all wrapped up in the next couple of days.

10News reached out Chuck Webb for comment but he has not yet returned our call. The Supervisor of Elections says while any candidate can challenge a vote, frivolous challenges can result in misdemeanor charge for each incident.

(© 2016 WTSP)


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