A TALE OF TWO COUNTIES
In the interest of providing information to an informed electorate, the Cedar Key News has studied both candidates competing in the upcoming Levy County Commissioner election which will occur on November 4, 2014, when voters will be asked to vote for James B. “Jamie” Griffin or Lilly Rooks. Cedar Key News research finds a conflict between the legal residency and the voting practice of James (Jamie) B. Griffin.
INTEGRITY OF THE SYSTEM
Voting is a right.
The right to vote and have that vote counted should not be infringed upon in any way. Everyone has a right to have his/her vote honestly registered and counted.
The system, in most states, requires the voter to provide proof of legal residency when initially registering to vote; these states may not require proof of legal residency when changing a voting precinct from one county to another. This is left up to the honesty and integrity of the individual requesting the change.
Mr. Griffin has established residency and currently enjoys Homestead Exemption on his home in Dixie County.
The county Property Appraiser is charged with determining legal residency in order to allow tax exemptions. Mr. Griffin’s residency has been confirmed by the Dixie County Property Appraiser’s office to be in Dixie County:
- He still has the Dixie County address on his State of Florida Driver’s License.
- He still has the Dixie County address on all of his professional registrations and licenses.
- He still receives his mail at the Dixie County address.
- He still receives State Homestead Exemption and Dixie County School Exemption on the address of his residence in Dixie County.
- The Levy County Property Appraiser has the Dixie County address listed as the mailing address for all property he owns in Levy County.
Mr. Griffin registered to vote in Dixie County in 2010.
Mr. Griffin has been registered to vote in Levy County since 2012.
According to the property appraiser’s determination of Mr. Griffin’s residency to be in Dixie County and according to the Florida Voter Registration Application, James B. Griffin has established his voting district to be in Levy County.
Florida Statute s.101.045 (1) states in part that: “A person is not permitted to vote in any election precinct or district other than the one in which the person has his or her legal residence and which the person is registered.”
The Voter Registration form submitted and signed, under oath, by Mr. Griffin, “…that all information provided in this application is true” shows in the space requiring “Address where you live (legal address-no P.O. Box)”, that Mr. Griffin entered “550 1st Street-Unit 211, Cedar Key Florida.”
The Florida Voter Registration Application states that it is a Criminal Offense and is a 3rd degree felony to submit false information.
It is legal to run for county office (with provisions*) in a county other than the one of the candidate’s legal residency.
*The provision is articulated in the Florida Department of State/Office of General Council document, “Determining When Residency Qualifications for Office Must be Met.” The document states that a candidate running for County Commissioner must reside in the county where he will be seated “At the time of election” which is November 4, 2014.
It is not legal for Mr. Griffin to live in Dixie County and to vote in Levy County.
Mr. Griffin, in response to an earlier Cedar Key News inquiry, stated that his permanent residency will be located at the Cedar Key rental unit at 550 First Street on November 4, 2014, as required to run for the office of Levy County Commissioner.
Can he legally vote for himself before that time?