How The Post got the absentee ballot story


Spurred by unusually high vote-by-mail turnouts in south county neighborhoods in both the March and August elections in 2016, Palm Beach Post reporters went door to door and talked to dozens of voters to find out why.

POST INVESTIGATION: Winning candidates helped voters fill out ballots

Many residents could not say whom they voted for. They said they were directed how to vote by candidates and campaign workers, who casually came into their homes and were fixtures in the neighborhoods during the campaign. Many of the voters were Haitian-American and spoke Creole. Some spoke only halting English.

The work started with analysis of voter file information by data reporters Justin Price and Mike Stucka. Under public records law, Florida provides the voting record of every registered voter. It includes the voter’s address and the method the voter used to vote, not just in the most recent election but in elections dating back years. The reporters built maps that showed where absentee ballots were used the most.

The maps pointed to the long, narrow, overlapping districts of state Rep. Al Jacquet and County Commissioner Mack Bernard, who both won Aug. 30 Democratic primary races with high proportions of mail-in votes.

Over two months, Boynton Beach reporter Alexandra Seltzer, Delray Beach reporter Lulu Ramadan, investigative reporter Lawrence Mower and Price knocked on more than 150 doors. While they found the highest concentrations of absentee voters in Boynton Beach and Delray Beach, they also visited voters in other parts of the district, including West Palm Beach, Lake Park and Riviera Beach.

To overcome the language barrier in many homes, The Post hired a court-certified interpreter of Creole.

Aside from voters, reporters spoke with election law experts, elections supervisors, campaign consultants, prosecutors, politicians and university professors. They studied state statutes and reviewed past rulings. They sought interviews with Jacquet and Bernard, who demanded questions in writing but did not answer any of them.



Reader Comments ...


Next Up in Local

‘Black Panther’ raking in the dough, here’s the records the blockbuster has smashed
‘Black Panther’ raking in the dough, here’s the records the blockbuster has smashed

“Black Panther” has taken theaters by storm, breaking box office goals.  >> Read more trending news  Over the Presidents Day weekend, the Marvel flick made a whopping $242 million, much more than the $150 million predicted.  That wasn’t the only success the film saw. It also made history for Marvel,...
Expansion approved for Jupiter Medical Center 
Expansion approved for Jupiter Medical Center 

The town council approved the expansion of the Jupiter Medical Center Foshay Cancer Center on Tuesday night. The new 55,000-square-foot addition is planned to be called the Anderson Family Cancer Institute. The project near Military Trail and Jupiter Lakes Boulevard is part of a $123 expansion plan by JMC, the town’s largest...
UPDATE: Police investigate fatal shooting in Boynton Beach
UPDATE: Police investigate fatal shooting in Boynton Beach

Update, 10:30 p.m.: Police continued to speak with witnesses after a fatal shooting in Boynton Beach Tuesday night. Investigators have not released any information about the man who was killed or the circumstances around his death. Officers ask anyone with information to call police at 561-732-8116. Original Story: Boynton Beach police...
‘Beauty out of chaos:’ Parkland grieves together after mass shooting
‘Beauty out of chaos:’ Parkland grieves together after mass shooting

They came with their tears. They came with their prayers. They came with their anger and their protest signs. Just like they came after Columbine, after Sandy Hook, after the carnage at Virginia Tech University, they came Tuesday to the makeshift memorial along the chain-link fence in front of Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, a quintessential...
West Boca students walk 12 miles to Douglas: ‘We had to do something’
West Boca students walk 12 miles to Douglas: ‘We had to do something’

For 17 minutes at West Boca Raton High School on Tuesday, the campus fell silent to honor 17 killed in a high school shooting 10 miles away. But within seconds, the halls were consumed by the roaring sound of students leaving in droves and chanting in support of fallen classmates. About 90 percent of West Boca High’s students walked out Tuesday...
More Stories