Broward College is conducting an online forum so the public can get an in-depth look at mail in voting, with provocative questions: “Is our election at stake? Will your vote be counted?”
Interest in voting by mail has reached an unprecedented level in 2020. Interest began surging, along with the coronavirus pandemic, for the March presidential primary and increased in the August state and local primaries.
For the presidential election, more South Floridians have requested mail ballots than ever before. Democrats, who polling shows are more concerned about coronavirus than Republicans, are driving the increase.
At the same time, Republican interest in mail voting has been tempered by months of attacks by President Donald Trump. He has repeatedly claimed that mail in voting is plagued with fraud, although he hasn’t produced evidence and a commission he appointed to examine alleged election problems disbanded without reporting any findings. After his attacks on mail in voting discouraged Florida Republicans form applying for mail in ballots, Trump changed his tune and said the system in Florida is OK.
The Broward College discussion, part of the “Village Square” civic engagement effort, will be moderated by Kevin Wagner, chairman of the political science department at Florida Atlantic University.
The panelists are supervisors of elections Peter Antonacci of Broward and Wendy Sartory Link of Palm Beach County and Richard DeNapoli, former chairman of the Broward Republican Party and currently the county’s elected state Republican committeeman.
DeNapoli was an early supporter of Trump, at a time when most Florida party leaders favored other candidates for the 2016 presidential nomination.
There is no Democratic Party representative. Responding to questions via email, Jodi Brown, district director of public relations for Broward College, said the Village Square advisory board felt the panel would offer “balanced representation to participants. Many factors go into deciding the panelists for each dinner, and the board is committed to finding the best speakers/panelists for each event.”
Because the Republican Party’s views on mail-in voting have changed, Brown said the advisory board “thought it was important to have the GOP represented in this civil debate as part of the ongoing discussion on mail-in voting. A representative from the Democratic Party was not included as the board felt the two supervisors of elections would already offer arguments in support of the system’s credibility and could talk about the process to bring a level of comfort to people about mail-in ballots.”
The event starts at 7 p.m. on Wednesday, Oct. 15. It’s free. People may register online at www.broward.edu/villagesquare.
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