‘Cruisers’ right to vote stays intact

By Nick Blank
Posted 12/5/18

GREEN COVE SPRINGS – What began earlier this year as the possibility of some 3,500 Clay County voters losing their right to votes is now resolved after months of discussions and action.

St. …

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‘Cruisers’ right to vote stays intact

Posted

GREEN COVE SPRINGS – What began earlier this year as the possibility of some 3,500 Clay County voters losing their right to votes is now resolved after months of discussions and action.

St. Brendan’s Isle, a mail-forwarding service for boaters and other transients, worked with the Clay County Supervisor of Elections to allow its customers to vote with a simple a change in address. In July, however, a fix wasn’t so certain.

Supervisor of Elections Chris Chambless asked the state Division of Elections if voters with a mailing address from a mail-forwarding service could legally register to vote.

An opinion from state Elections Director Maria Matthews said a person using a mail-forwarding service claiming residency in a county, with no residential address, wasn’t a legal resident of the county and that was not enough to register to vote.

However, St. Brendan’s Isle found a way to allow its customers to vote by partnering with Reynolds Park Yacht Center. Scott Loehr, co-owner of St. Brendan’s Isle, said he appreciated Chambless’ efforts to find a solution to protect its clients’ ability to vote.

“We’re happy the issue was resolved, and we worked with the Department of Elections to preserve that right,” Loehr said.

Chambless said 411 Walnut Street is still their mailing address, but the physical tie used by his office for voting is at 1063 Bulkhead Rd. Chambless said no voters were removed from rolls related to the issue for the 2018 midterm election because of timing.

“There’s a window where you can’t change a voter’s record and we were in that window, so you couldn’t make any changes or start the removal process or address confirmation process that close to an election,” Chambless said.

Chambless said he was pleased all entities involved reached a legal solution but reiterated his initial concern that the customers of the mail-forwarding service were elsewhere.

“Up until this Bulkhead Road development, these weren’t really residents, they were commercial relationships,” Chambless said. “The issue for me was you could complete this entire process without ever stepping in the office and that kind of concerns me.”

Currently, transient voters are only allowed to vote in state and federal elections, not local elections. Fallout from the St. Brendan’s Isle matter from July could have changed that.

“There may be an effect to that, and may make them available for municipal elections,” Chambless said. “It’s uncharted territory in some respects.”

When the issue first surfaced, it set off a storm of letters to Chambless from St. Brendan’s Isle customers asking that they not lose their right to vote.

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