Patrol officers in Cocoa say they are currently working with the State Attorney’s Office and the Brevard County Supervisor of Elections Office in what appears to be a scam involving attempts to collect personal information under the guise of a voter registration drive.
Cocoa Police Officer Mike Cavalieri says he was conducting proactive patrols late last week and approached a group of suspicious individuals who he said appeared to be smoking marijuana.
Officer Cavalieri says further investigation revealed two males and two females were at the park approaching citizens to collect personal information for what they claimed was a voter registration drive.
According to police accounts, the individuals claimed to be working for the elections office and said they were collecting information for voter registration applications.
Authorities say a check with the Supervisor of Elections Office verified there was no voter collection drive at the park.
In addition, authorities say third party groups who solicit voter applications must be registered with the Florida Department of State.
Police say there was no information presented that indicated the persons were part of a registered third party organization collecting voter applications.
The investigation is being forwarded to the State Attorney’s Office for potential criminal charges involving violation of Florida election code by unlawfully soliciting voter registrations for compensation, investigators say.
The crime noted here is a second degree felony punishable by a maximum 15 years in prison if convicted.
Elections officials say that whenever their offices hold a voter registration drive, the staff is easily identifiable by their name tags, official logos and other accessories.
With an eye toward the real concerns over identity theft, elections officials say they encourage voters to be vigilant about who they give their personal information to for their own safety.
If approached by someone who is not easily identifiable as an employee of the Supervisor of Elections office, citizens are told they should verify that these people do represent a valid third-party voter organization before giving their personal information.
Florida allows for third-party voter registration organizations to collect voter registration applications but are required to turn them into the Supervisor of Elections within 5 days.
To find a database of registered third party organizations, people can visit the Department of State’s website: http://dos.myflorida.com/elections/for-voters/voter-registration/third-party-voter-registration-organizations/.