A supervisor of elections for a Florida county has repeatedly overstepped his authority to implement COVID-19 mandates and voting procedures that appear to challenge numerous state laws, according to documents obtained exclusively by The Epoch Times just days before the start of Florida's 2022 primary election cycle.
Applicants were told they had to identify the type of vaccine they received and the dates the vaccine was administered. By signing the form, applicants were also acknowledging that they understood they would be required to wear a mask or a face shield, covering their nose and mouth, "at all times." Applicants who could not "comply with this new policy" for "whatever reason," were told they were "ineligible to work the 2022 Elections."
Paul Stamoulis, supervisor of elections for Charlotte County, Florida. (Charlotte County Supervisor of elections website)
Pandemic ProceduresBut after his failure to force a vaccine mandate on local poll workers, Stamoulis has released a new set of polling room procedures that would prohibit voters from entering any one of their three early voting locations.
Under the heading, "Changes During COVID," the new manual says "each location would be provided with a thermometer," and "Deputies stationed at the entry to the polling location" will be responsible for that thermometer throughout the day." Deputies will also "instruct that Everyone wishing to enter a polling location is to have his or her temp checked (kids, assistors, poll watchers, etc.)."
'Alternate Voting' ProceduresAny of those situations would activate "alternate voting" procedures.
The deputy must stop attending to their other outside duties—which include ensuring that only voters and qualified individuals are admitted into the polling room, maintaining the peace outside, and ensuring enforcement of the 150-feet "no solicitation zone"—in order to find the clerk, who also would need to step away from their assigned duties.
Under the "Deputy and Clerk Responsibilities" heading, the clerk is directed to go outside and, while "wearing a mask and single-use gloves," explain the new alternate process and "request the voter's photo/signature identification and inform the voter they will be right back."
One Voter, Three Poll WorkersThe clerk then returns outside with the voter's ID, voting pass, signature slip, ballot, and secrecy sleeve. After the voter signs the signature slip, the clerk then compares the signature with the signature on the voter's ID. If they match, the voter is directed to a voting booth outside in the Florida summer heat to mark their ballot.
The deputy then juggles their normal duties with monitoring the voter to make sure they don't leave with the ballot and/or that they aren't approached by a third person. Once the voter has completed their ballot, they are told they must take their ballot to the deputy, who is not permitted to touch the ballot, so the deputy can go inside to get the clerk, who must again stop what they were doing inside in order to go back outside to get the voter's ballot.
The clerk then must tell the voter that they are going to take their ballot inside to the polling room, where the ballot will be added to the tabulator. In the meantime, a third poll worker, the assistant clerk, also must halt their inside duties, which includes covering for the clerk in their absence, in order to document the procedure for the voter with a "recording device," leaving no one left to assist voters and other poll workers with ballot casting and check in issues.
"The Assistant Clerk records the ballot going from the voter to insertion into the DS200," the manual states. Then, the clerk "returns to show the voter the video that their ballot was tabulated."
Florida Election LawsAccording to Fla. Stat. § 102.031, "No photography is permitted in the polling room or early voting area." Florida's Voter's Bill of Rights states that an elector has the right to "Vote free from coercion or intimidation by elections officers or any other person."
Stamoulis RespondsWhen asked by The Epoch Times about his policies and procedures that appear to violate at least three executive orders and several statutes in Florida's election laws, Stamoulis said in an email: "Regarding the sanitizing and social distancing issues, please see Governor Ron DeSantis' Executive Order cited, in part, below." He then pasted the following:
"STATE OF FLORIDA
OFFICE OF THE GOVERNOR EXECUTIVE ORDER NUMBER 20-149 Section 3. Election Administration Coordination A. Each Supervisor of Elections shall ensure proper social distancing and cleaning procedures are implemented for Early Voting and Election Day, insofar as is practicable. This may include, but is not limited to, spacing out voting stations, the use of physical barriers for poll workers interacting with voters, providing personal protective equipment to poll workers, and making hand sanitizer and other cleaning products readily available."
"Masks are optional but not required of voters or poll workers in Florida," Stamoulis said.
However, his manual clearly states on Page 6, under the heading, "What We Expect Our Voters to Do for Our Community," that voters are expected to "Arrive with sanitized hands and a face mask." Under the heading "What We Will Do for You," it says poll workers will "provide masks for those without."
"We are awaiting a ruling on the temperature issue," Stamoulis added.
However, on the last page of his manual, Stamoulis states "The Supervisor of Elections Is the Final Authority When It Comes to Decisions Surrounding COVID in Our Offices and Polling Locations."
DeSantis's Office RespondsThe office of Gov. Ron DeSantis disagrees.
"Florida law is the final authority when it comes to elections in the state," DeSantis's press secretary Christina Pushaw told The Epoch Times. "Supervisors of elections must follow state law. If a supervisor is found to be in violation of the law, the governor has the authority to suspend that person from office."
Under state law, Pushaw asserted that Floridians can't be required to wear a mask by any government official or entity, which means that a mask mandate for voting wouldn't be permissible.
"Beyond the mask issue, this document as a whole is concerning because it could scare citizens into thinking they must comply or simply not show up," Pushaw said. "In other words, this could be seen as voter suppression. It needs to be rectified to be clear to voters about their rights.
Florida Department of State Weighs In"We were made aware of the document and reached out to Charlotte County Supervisor of Elections (SOE) Stamoulis to discuss," Mark R. Ard, a Florida Department of State spokesman, told The Epoch Times.
"After our conversation, Supervisor Stamoulis understands the concerns presented within the document in question and is revising his policy so that all voters in Charlotte County will [have] equal access to ballots and there are no restrictions on voting. We appreciate Supervisor Stamoulis for being very collaborative throughout the process as we continue to work together to ensure safe, transparent elections in Florida."
Questionable Equipment SecurityDuring the course of the investigation, The Epoch Times also received another manual, which raises serious questions regarding election equipment security at "polling locations that do not have a secured/locked room to store equipment."
According to the "2022 Election Cycle" training manual for "Clerks and Assistant Clerks," the Charlotte County SOE's security procedure for storing EViDs and ballot tabulators at unsecured locations consists of laying a large tarp "flat on the floor," placing the equipment on the tarp, pulling the tarp over the equipment and fitting the U-bar of a combination lock through grommeted holes.
'Serious Concerns'Pushaw said that because the Pandemic Procedures manual is already in the hands of poll workers, some of them are still going to believe that they must enforce the outlined rules.
"Our position is that these policies need to be revised to make clear that voters cannot be required to participate in COVID protocols in order to exercise their right to vote," she said. "More broadly, no official anywhere in the state is permitted to enact policies that violate Florida law. To summarize, we have serious concerns about this document and this Supervisor’s approach to elections administration."