I’ve spoken to several people around town, and they’ve asked me, “This guy Robb. Is he a good candidate?”
Jean Robb, a Deerfield Beach mayoral candidate, said she will go ahead with a plan to collect voters’ absentee ballots to take them to the Supervisor of Elections Office despite a letter from the city recommending she stop.
Robb said she will collect absentee ballots in lockboxes at five locations in Deerfield Beach, according to her campaign fliers. She plans to have someone take them to the Broward County Supervisor of Elections Office, saving residents the $1.32 it takes to send them by mail.
Robb, who was mayor from 1980 to 1993, faces Mayor Peggy Noland in the March 12 election. She’ll begin accepting absentee ballots after they’re mailed to voters in early February.
“I really think she should cease and desist,” said Supervisor of Elections Brenda Snipes. “She has no authority to put out a ballot box. She’s a candidate, not an elections official. The sanctity of the ballot is being violated here. I would be afraid to give my ballot to someone with no authority. It’s risky. I have no idea what kind of security she has.”
Deerfield Beach City Clerk Ada Graham-Johnson got wind of what Robb was doing last week, and consulted Snipes and the Florida Division of Elections on whether it was legal, Graham-Johnson wrote in a letter to Robb.
“While there is no specific statute prohibiting drop boxes for absentee ballots, we recommend against the practice,” she concluded.
The boxes will be locked and kept under the counter at the five establishments, which include Poitier’s Cleaners, the Meadows at Crystal Lake club house, the city’s Century Village club house, Shelby’s Kitchen and Deli and the Cove Bagel and Deli, Robb said.
It’s a “ballot security issue,” said Mitch Ceasar, chairman of Broward County’s Democratic Executive Committee.
“This is a bad legal and political precedent for the chain of custody,” Ceasar said. “There’s no legal protection for the people leaving those ballots at those locations. Jean Robb’s execution may be innocent, but the idea is ill-conceived.”
He noted that some of the locations of the boxes are politically charged, especially the Poitier’s Cleaners. The cleaners is owned by Sylvia Poitier, the former Deerfield Beach commissioner who was removed from the commission last year after four convictions of misdemeanor counts of falsifying city records. Robb was an ally of Poitier’s, Noland an opponent of hers.
Robb said the objections to her lockboxes are politically motivated.
She is “sure wherever we have a lockbox it is secure,” she said, “and we’re saving the people the trouble of mailing them.
“We’re not doing anything illegal,” she said. “It’s the Democrats’ club that is objecting to it. This is another attempt to repress the people.”