Did incumbent John Tobia win re-election with a stamp?

Did incumbent John Tobia win re-election with a stamp?

The week before the primary election I learned that incumbent state house rep John Tobia was sending out letters and including .70 worth of postage for the voter to return his or her absentee ballot. Tobia defeated challenger Tim Street with 5,195 votes to Street’s 4,211. I filed the ethics complaint below.

Here is what Florida Statute says: 104.061 Corruptly influencing voting (Emphasis added is mine to show relevance)

(1) Whoever by bribery, menace, threat, or other corruption whatsoever, either directly or indirectly, attempts to influence, deceive, or deter any elector in voting or interferes with him or her in the free exercise of the elector’s right to vote at any election commits a felony of the third degree, punishable as provided in s. 775.082, s. 775.083, or s. 775.084 for the first conviction, and a felony of the second degree, punishable as provided in s. 775.082, s. 775.083, or s. 775.084, for any subsequent conviction.

(2) No person shall directly or indirectly give or promise anything of value to another intending thereby to buy that person’s or another’s vote or to corruptly influence that person or another in casting his or her vote. Any person who violates this subsection is guilty of a felony of the third degree, punishable as provided in s. 775.082, s. 775.083, or s. 775.084. However, this subsection shall not apply to the serving of food to be consumed at a political rally or meeting or to any item of nominal value which is used as a political advertisement, including a campaign message designed to be worn by a person.

Note, the statutory language is very clear that if an item of nominal value is provided, it is to be used as a political advertisement. For example a ruler with a school board member’s name and website emblazoned upon it. However, there is not one piece of political advertisement anywhere on the $0.70 stamp that is included in this mailer. It is clearly an item of value and was used to corruptly influence the elector in casting his or her vote. In addition, this item of value may cause an elector to feel compelled to vote for the candidate and if so, we would see an increase in voter activity as a result and this does in fact bear true in the voting data.

In the statistical analysis, when the early vote rate vs the in-person vote rate is compared to the rest of the races county-wide, we see the average percentage of absentee votes compared to the in-person votes of about 81%. However, in the race where the violation has been alleged, the return rate is almost double that average, at 156% of the vote. This seems to indicate that electors were indeed compelled to vote based on their receipt of an item of value.

Voter data collected from: http://enr.electionsfl.org/BRE/Summary/1072?view=detailed

Please note the Altman/Miller race was not used to find the average because the postage scheme was also used in that race and the numbers are also skewed.

2014 Primary Voter Analysis
Candidate
Early

Election Day

Provisional

Mail

% of Total

% of Poll

Collins
327

1554

2

1297

45.49%

83.46%

Goodson
690

3114

1

2725

46.67%

87.51%

Barfield
327

2079

4

1522

42.27%

73.21%

Hartman
382

1771

3

1412

44.36%

79.73%

Sheridan
29

345

0

202

36.93%

58.55%

Taylor
82

879

3

875

49.89%

99.54%

Armstrong
93

640

0

527

45.16%

82.34%

Charbonneau
74

490

2

586

54.46%

119.59%

Jones
198

1083

1

825

43.24%

76.18%

Klein
154

1090

0

776

41.59%

71.19%

Lacey
94

592

0

472

44.36%

79.73%

Smith
325

1822

1

1397

43.40%

76.67%

Zilatis
76

546

0

388

41.51%

71.06%

Justice
946

5683

6

4515

44.27%

79.45%

Sullivan
686

4075

6

3475

46.03%

85.25%

Totals:
25763
29
20994
44.9%
81.49%
Street
408

2423

8

1788

42.46%

73.79%

Tobia
471

2028

5

3167

60.96%

156.16%

Tobia Complaint – Corruptly Influencing Voting by Matthew Daniel Nye

This post was written by
Writer, political activist, Organizer of the Brevard Tea Parties, Republican Liberty Caucus (RLC) Nat'l Chairman and former candidate for Brevard County Commission.

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