HILLSBOROUGH COUNTY, Fla. (WFLA) – Voting, choosing those who will represent us to govern our country, is a right many Americans hold sacred.
So when 83-year-old lifelong Republican Marina Agosto received a new voter ID card that told her she was now a registered Democrat, she and her daughter Minerva headed to the Hillsborough County Supervisor of Elections office to find out why.
“Something’s going on; something’s going on,” Agosto said.
She is outraged that someone would use her name to commit voter registration fraud here in a swing state, where every single vote is so important. She is even more bothered that the Hillsborough County Supervisor of Elections office wasn’t taking her seriously.
“They insisted that she had done it and that you must have forgotten. ‘You must have forgotten.’ And she was very irate,” Minerva said.
Craig Latimer and his staff told 8 On Your Side Agosto probably forgot she filled out a voter registration application.
The mother and daughter discovered at the Supervisor of Elections office that a group called Mi Familia Vota submitted a new voter registration application for Agosto. A signature that is supposed to be her own is on the application.
“I sign different, completely different,” Agosto said.
She provided 8 On Your Side with her signature. It looks different than the one on the application. 8 On Your Side provided them both to the Supervisor of Elections office.
“They look a little bit different; they don’t look a lot different to me,” said Gerri Kramer, Supervisor of Elections communications director.
The birth year on the application also doesn’t match Agosto’s voter ID card. 8 On Your Side asked if the Supervisor of Elections notified law enforcement. “All I have is this form. I don’t have anything that tells me this is illegal,” Kramer said.
“There’s identity theft to an extent,” Minerva said. “You know the forged signature and the voter registration. I mean there’s three things going on here.”
The Supervisor of Elections office contacted Mi Familia after 8 On Your Side started asking questions. It held a meeting with the group’s representatives Monday.
Since June Mi Familia Vota has submitted more than 5,700 voter registration applications in Hillsborough County alone. Third=party voter registrations groups have submitted more than 54,000 applications in that time period.
Mi Familia would not open its door when 8 On Your Side went to discuss the issue with them.
In an email to Minerva, Esteban Garces, Florida director of Mi Familia Vota, wrote, “We are very sorry for the confusion caused by the voter registration application that was incorrectly submitted in your mother’s name … (Mi Familia Voter Education Fund) is a nonpartisan organization that is working to enhance civic engagement within the Latino Community in Florida and elsewhere, and we take very seriously our responsibility to submit voter registration information that is completely accurate in all respects.”
“We haven’t had these kind of problems in any other state,” said Ben Monterroso, executive director of Mi Familia Vota. Mi Familia, he claims, is investigating the 200 other applications submitted by the person who filled out Marina’s application.
“We’re going to go and make sure that we contact every single one of the applications that she submitted,” Monterroso said.
Meanwhile, the person who filled out the voter registration application in Agosto’s name no longer works for Mi Familia. Monterroso isn’t sure if this is voter fraud. He wants to investigate further.
The Supervisor of Elections office contends it is up to Florida’s Division of Elections to investigate questionable applications. It states there are safeguards in place to protect against voter fraud.