ORANGE COUNTY, Fla. - Florida’s voter registration rules are clear: Each person gets just one vote. Everyone who registers is assigned a voter identification number to make sure individual votes are counted.
But 9 Investigates learned dozens of people in central Florida had two voter ID numbers and the opportunity to vote twice for years, so Channel 9's Vanessa Welch asked what's being done to clean up the voting rolls before the primary later this month.
Welch asked registered Orange County voter Jack Norris if he has ever voted twice in the same election.
“Absolutely not. It’s illegal," said Norris.
He’s correct. Voting more than once in any election is illegal, but Norris is one of the more than two-dozen local residents 9 Investigates found who could have voted twice during the last three elections.
That’s because records show that Norris had two voter ID numbers for 10 years. He got one of them in 1992 and another in 2004.
“It’s pretty bad,” Norris said. “They should have caught it a long time ago."
Norris thinks the duplication happened when he moved to Apopka and then moved back to his previous address in Orlando. He was one of 26 people in Orange County with two voter ID numbers.
“They should have never existed in the database,” said IT consultant Andrew Ladanowski, who has a fascination with data and politics.
Ladanowski made the discovery about the duplicates in Orange County after crunching voter registration data he collected from the state following a public records request.
“I have an old server and it took
2 1/2 seconds to query the state data and find out how many individuals have duplicate voter IDs,” Ladanowski said.
His records show 100 Floridians have duplicate voter ID numbers.
Welch took the list to Orange County Supervisor of Elections Bill Cowles and asked him if these people could have voted twice during the last election.
“There is a potential for that, but again, we would be the ones evaluating it on the back end,” Cowles explained.
Cowles told Welch that his office started cleaning up the duplicates a few months ago. His software, in addition, shows none of the people on the list ever voted twice.
His team is constantly reviewing the rolls and purging duplicates.
“You have to treat each one individually and have to do your research,” Cowles said.
Cowles and other elections supervisors also rely on the state to check the voter rolls.
The Florida Division of Elections has had a statewide voter database since 2002. The director has software that’s supposed to catch duplicates.
So Norris wonders why the state didn’t realize he had dual voter IDs, especially since Ladanowski found dozens of duplicates so easily on his own.
“One person found this, so why can’t they?” Norris asked.
State elections officials told 9 Investigates they are required to notify local election supervisors about duplicate voter ID numbers, so they can remove the duplicates.
But no one could explain why the numbers Ladanowski discovered stayed on the voter rolls for years.
If someone voted twice, both votes would count because a vote cannot be removed once it has been cast.
However, the evidence would be turned over to the State Attorney’s Office for prosecution because voter fraud is a felony.