Broward County, Florida moved a polling place inside a gated community this year. Security guards require voters to surrender their photo ID to pass, even though Florida state law allows provisional ballot voters to vote without showing ID.
Broward County voters have reported unpleasant standoffs when they declined to show ID to the private security guards.
“To even get in the gate you had to show ID, before you even got to the polling place itself,” voter Katherine Polizzi told local media.
Private security workers’ response was apparently “too bad” when Polizzi expressed her concern about the requirement.
“You don’t even need an ID to cast a provisional ballot, so it seems like some kind of voter suppression to me,” Polizzi said, adding that she was hesitant to give her private personal information to a private third-party company. She was eventually let in after a lengthy argument with security guards.
— Carlos J. Lugo (@FishinWithFredo) November 6, 2018
The precinct was moved inside the private gated community earlier this year after having been formerly been housed in a community center. The new location also received complaints during the August primaries.
“Access to the polling station was hindered as it was moved to a gated community — security checking ID,” reads one August complaint to the office of Broward County supervisor of Elections Brenda Snipes.
“Did not like the new voting site – Century Village — gated,” reads a second.
Patricia Santiago, an assistant to Snipes, said the office “wasn’t aware of those complaints” and that the office is “trying to talk to the facility to see if they will accept” not demanding IDs to enter the gated community on Election Day. The community has “declined” these efforts thus far, however, “because of the safety of the residents.”
“It’s a traditional kind of issue because when you have so many voting sites, you can’t possibly have them all at government buildings,” said general counsel Nick Shannin of the Orange County Supervisor of Elections Office. “You have to use some private facilities and private facilities have rules. But they can’t be rules that conflict with the rights of voters to have access.”
Shannin intervened during a similar situation in Orange county, where private security at Stoneybrook East Fitness Center were requiring voters to show IDs to access the center, an official polling location.
About 11 percent of Americans don’t have government-issued photo identification cards. Incidents involving private security guards requiring photo IDs to enter Florida polling locations this year have also been reported in Deerfield Beach, Pasco County, and Boca Raton.
Nathan Wellman is a Grit Post contributing editor in Los Angeles. Follow him on Twitter: @LIGHTNINGWOW. You can also email him at info AT gritpost DOT com.