An hour after polls opened Tuesday morning, the Pinellas County Supervisor of Elections Office mistakenly placed hundreds — possibly thousands — of automatic calls to voters instructing them that they had until 7 p.m. Wednesday to vote.Whitlock said she didn't know how many of the 12,000 calls went out.
But that is wrong. Polls close at 7 p.m. Tuesday. Any ballots turned in after that time won't be accepted.
The calls went out between 8 a.m. and 8:30 a.m. because of a glitch with the SOE's phone system. Calls were made Monday alerting voters who had requested mail ballots but had not returned them that they had until 7 p.m. "tomorrow" to get them turned in.
About 12,000 calls, however, didn't get through, said SOE spokeswoman Nancy Whitlock. They were stored in a queue and recycled Tuesday morning. The "tomorrow" in the message meant for Monday was incorrect when it was delivered.
Former Florida Gov. Charlie Crist was alerted to the situation when his wife, Carole, got one of the calls on her cell phone. "Unbelievable," he said.
Or, perhaps, all too believable.
A woman the Times interviewed said that after she received the robo-call, she phoned the number that came up on her caller ID and was directed to the office of the supervisor of elections. She said she spoke to two women there in succession, each of whom told her the call she had received was impossible. "They were very uncooperative," she said.
The supervisor of elections for Pinellas County is Deborah Clark, a Republican, who has worked for the elections office for more than 30 years, and held its top post for 12. That's an elected post that pays $128,000 a year. The Democrat who ran against her in 2008, Jack Killingsworth, lost by a 23 percent margin. He's running again this year. The county has 233,325 registered Democrats, 226,010 registered Republicans and 167,013 others.