The Joplin Globe, Joplin, MO

Local News

July 20, 2012

Mike Pound: Connie Smith in good company in Florida

Connie Smith can’t vote.

The reason Connie Smith can’t vote is because she lives in Florida, and for some reason Florida has a hard time with the whole voting concept. Don’t believe me? Ask Al Gore.

You might think Connie can’t vote in Florida because she is a convicted felon or an illegal alien or because she is actually a miniature poodle, which are all very legitimate reasons to not be allowed to vote.

But the reason the state of Florida won’t allow Connie to vote is because she is — to use a voting term — dead. Again a perfectly valid reason to not be allowed to vote. There is just one little problem with Florida election officials not letting Connie vote: She’s  not — technically speaking — dead. At least she doesn’t think she’s dead.

According to The Associated Press, Connie is alive and well and not exactly pleased to receive a “To Whom it May Concern” letter from the Orange County supervisor of elections informing her that she had been taken off the Florida voting roles because of her passing.

This is not the first time the state of Florida had tired to tell Connie that she was dead. In 2008 the state told Connie, who is 61, that she was dead. According to the AP, it took Connie more than six months to clear up the mistake and to get the state to send her a “non-death” certificate.

Only in Florida would someone have to be issued a non-death certificate.

The AP said that, in 2008, once the election people told Connie she was dead, a bunch of other agencies jumped on the hearse, which  complicated her efforts to convince the state that she was alive. But eventually she succeeded and figured she had put the whole “I’m not dead yet” ordeal behind her.

Until last Friday, when she opened the letter from the Orange County election folks.

“I opened it up, I cried,” is what Connie told the AP.

I’m no doctor, although I have seen several played on TV, but I’m pretty sure the ability to cry is a sign that you are not dead. So is talking to the AP, I’m thinking.

Apparently, the whole misunderstanding began when a woman by the name of Constance Simmons Smith died in Miami. The woman and Connie shared the same birth date. A worker with the elections office said the initial death mistake may have been made by the Social Security Administration, which shares its information with the Florida Division of Elections. The woman apologized for the mistake and said she was working on bringing Connie back to life.

“But I’m only as good as the next death list that comes down,” she said.

Yes, we are all human.

Incredibly, the AP reports, the same thing once happened to Florida Gov. Rick Scott in 2006 when local election officials told him he was dead. Wow a dead guy getting elected governor. Who does Florida think it is? Chicago.

Ha, that’s just my obligatory Chicago joke.

The AP said that local officials don’t verify that people on the state’s death list are in fact dead. I can see that. I mean who wants to make that call.

“Hello, Mr. Smith, this is Mr. Headly with the county. Are you  dead?”

It turns out, a few weeks ago the same election office that told Connie she was dead sent her a letter asking her to update her signature, and then, at her request, sent her an absentee ballot which arrived — you guessed it — on the same day the letter telling her she was dead arrived.

Oh, and the election office also sent Connie 4.7 million votes for Al Gore.

Follow Mike Pound on Twitter @mikepoundglobe.


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