ACLU of Florida Files Lawsuit on Behalf of Overseas Voter Disqualified From Voting by Absentee Ballot in Seminole County

Affiliate: ACLU of Florida
October 19, 2004 12:00 am

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MIAMI – In a complaint filed late today in federal district court in Orlando, the American Civil Liberties Union of Florida sued Seminole County election officials for refusing to register a voter now living in Germany who is seeking to vote by absentee ballot on November 2.

“This is yet another example of how election officials use hyper-technical interpretations of law to prevent eligible voters from participating in the November elections,” said Howard Simon, executive director of the ACLU of Florida.

The ACLU filed the lawsuit on behalf of David B. de Treville after Seminole County Supervisor of Elections Dennis Joyner refused to register him for this upcoming election, even though he made sure all the necessary forms were forwarded to the county election supervisor’s office in August – well before the October 4 registration deadline for Election Day. Treville lived in Winter Springs before moving to Germany in 1987.

On August 4, he faxed his completed Federal Post Card Application – to register to vote and request an absentee ballot – to the Voter Assistance Program in Washington, D.C., which then submitted his application via fax to the Seminole County Supervisor of Elections. Two days later, the federal agency verified that the local election office had, in fact, received his faxed application. He then sent the original application by mail.

The Secretary of State’s website advises people to call their local Supervisor of Elections if they do not receive their voter registration cards within eight weeks. Since de Treville hadn’t heard from anyone or received his card during that time frame, he again contacted the Federal Voter Assistance Program and the election office in Seminole County to inquire about his application. At that point, Seminole Election Supervisor Joyner determined that de Treville could not be permitted to register because they only received a faxed copy of his application, not the original. Although de Treville offered to overnight a new application, the county election supervisor said he missed the Oct. 4 deadline to register for the November election.

“I am very upset because I tried to do everything in my power to get registered to vote in time for the November 2004 elections,” wrote de Treville, in a declaration to the court. “I sent the form to their office far enough in advance, by both fax and regular mail, so that they had plenty of time to check the form and contact me if necessary.”

Election Supervisor Joyner claims de Treville is ineligible to register because his office never received de Treville’s original voter registration form containing his original signature – an assertion the ACLU argues violates federal law since people can already vote by fax and request absentee ballots by fax. The ACLU is seeking an immediate injunction from the court that forces Seminole County to register de Treville and mail him an absentee ballot via express mail.

The case is David B. de Treville v. Dennis Joyner. Attorneys Rebecca Harrison Steele and Randall Marshall of the ACLU of Florida are representing de Treville.

The complaint is available on-line at:

Treville’s declaration is posted at:

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