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Only on 9: U.S. Rep. Maxwell Frost demands transparency from elections supervisor

ORLANDO, Fla. — Update:

After speaking with Orange County leaders, the Orange County Supervisor of Elections announced the county can add amendments to the November ballot until Aug. 27.

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It is critically important that the voters of Orange County make their voices heard and express their will,” Supervisor of Elections Glen Gilzean said in a post.

Read the statement below:

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U.S. Rep. Maxwell Frost is demanding an immediate public meeting from Orange County’s new Supervisor of Elections Glen Gilzean to address mounting concerns over delays risking candidates and initiatives from getting on the November ballot.

Congressman Frost spoke exclusively with Channel 9′s Ashlyn Webb about his concerns with Gilzean’s Office Thursday.

“This puts our democracy here locally in jeopardy. And look, these challenges are significant. They’re not insurmountable. We want to work with the SOE to make sure that people can feel confidence in the elections here in Central Florida. This is about the voters making their voices heard-- no matter what or who they cast their ballot for,” Frost told Eyewitness News.

Frost’s letter to Gilzean was signed by Democrat state and local officials including Rep. Anna Eskamani, Rep. Johanna Lopez, Rep. Rita Harris, Rep. LaVon Bracy Davis, Senator Geraldine Thompson, Senator Victor Torres, Orlando City Commissioner Bakari Burns, Orange County Commissioner Mike Scott, Orange County Commissioner Nicole Wilson, Clerk of Courts Tiffany Moore-Russell, Orange County Property Appraiser Amy Mercado, Orange County Commissioner Emily Bonilla and Orange County Tax Collector Scott Randolph.

Read: Advocates ask Orange County voters to renew sales tax increase for school funding

Frost says many candidates are concerned about making it on the ballot because of weeks-long delays with the signature certification process.

A candidate can file to run for office for free using a petition with a prerequisite number of certified signatures. During the signature certification process, candidates typically check on the status of how many signatures were accepted versus voided by the SOE Office. Frost says Gilzean’s office would not consistently update the Office’s website, so candidates were anxious about qualifying.

“With our previous supervisor of elections, things were updated about every 48 hours almost, and you were able to have a really good up to date count of what your number is,” Rep. Frost told Channel 9′s Ashlyn Webb. “Unfortunately, with the current administration Supervisor of Elections, it wasn’t really being updated at all. Things were being added randomly and really at the last minute. And it put a lot of candidates in a position where they had to make this choice, where, you know, am I going to qualify? Am I not?”

Read: OCPS’s half-penny sales tax will appear on November ballot, Gilzean says

Frost told Channel 9′s Ashlyn Webb he also is concerned with Gilzean’s Office adding four new precincts and re-numbering existing precincts in Lake Nona, Apopka, Dr. Phillips, and Williamsburg ahead of the November presidential election.

“We’re just concerned on why this decision is being made at the kind of almost at the last minute here as we get into the election season. And number two, why was the decision made in the first place?,” Frost said.

The SOE Office said in its May 15 announcement, the change would impact roughly 25,000 voters, and it planned to mail new Voter ID cards to affected voters then. Supervisor Gilzean said mentioned the “rapid population growth” Orange County has seen in the announcement. He said it would ensure voters’ experience in November would be “seamless.”

Read: Elections supervisor denies claims that he put ballot question under legal review

Frost argued the change will confuse voters.

“These changes in the Office of the Orange County Supervisor of Elections could jeopardize the freeness and fairness of the upcoming general election in November if candidates – of any party – are de facto barred from filing for free and risk tens of thousands of voters getting turned away at the ballot box on election day,” Frost wrote in the letter.

When asked for a response to the letter, the Supervisor of Elections’ Office said “In early June, the Orange County Supervisor of Elections placed the OCPS half-cent sales tax on the November ballot. Candidate qualifying doesn’t end until Friday.”

This letter comes after Gilzean denied allegations Wednesday that the School District’s half-penny sales tax was under legal review. He says it will be on the November Ballot.

Read: ‘In limbo’: Commissioners wait for Elections Supervisor to set ballot initiative deadline

Gilzean would not say if the Board of County Commissioner’s rural boundary initiative will be on the November ballot but said he is working with County Administration to determine the Commission’s deadline to submit ballot language.

Frost tells 9Investigates he is aware of the concerns with those initiatives and that it underscores his call for a public meeting on other allegations of the Supervisor of Elections Office’s actions.

Frost says all four areas of concerns show last minute actions by Gilzean’s Office that could jeopardize a fair election in November.

Read the full letter below:

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