BY JAMES HARPER
Volusia County Supervisor of Elections Ann McFall has stopped her probe into absentee ballot request form irregularities related to Daytona Beach mayoral candidate Derrick Henry after being contacted by the State Attorney’s office.
McFall confirmed to the Daytona Times she met with Assistant State Attorney Bruce Bustanante last week and handed over information relating to absentee ballot request forms.
The elections supervisor was concerned this summer when three envelopes with absentee ballot request forms were mailed to her office in DeLand with Henry’s name and address on them in the upper left-hand corner.
McFall told the Daytona Times she first suspected someone might be trying to set up Henry and she contacted him.
Henry: Let attorney examine ‘findings’
McFall said she is glad to have the final decision about the matter out of her hands.
“I’m not an attorney. It could be carelessness or intent to break the law,” said McFall, adding that even before the State Attorney’s office approached her, Henry had asked her to turn everything she had about the matter over to the State Attorney.
“I have asked the Supervisor of Elections to turn over any ‘findings’ to the State Attorney, and remove the cloud over my campaign. The Supervisor herself stated in her interview with the (Daytona Beach) News Journal that “it is not illegal for a candidate to pass on absentee ballot request forms.’’ ‘’That is what happened in this situation,” said Henry in his written statement.
Aggressive absentee ballot campaigns
Initially, McFall said her investigation into the matter would not be completed until after the Nov. 6 general election when Henry will face Daytona Beach City Commissioner Edith Shelley for mayor of Daytona Beach.
The State Attorney’s office, when contacted by the Daytona Times would not say if the office met with McFall.
“I cannot confirm that she met with us or turned over paperwork to us because again, that type of question implies either way we are involved or there is a potential for an investigation,” said State Attorney spokesperson Klare Ly.
McFall said Henry along with Congressman John Mica had an aggressive absentee ballot campaign for the Aug.14 primary.
McFall said the Mica campaign mailed or dropped off duplicate absentee ballot request forms for many of his constituents.
Henry says he has no apologies for trying to help people vote.
“Our commitment is to offer assistance, distribute forms, collect forms, and mail them to the appropriate office for review. And that was and is the extent of our involvement with voter registrations and absentee ballot application requests,” said Henry in a written statement to the Daytona Times.
“Some ask why I bother to assist voters with absentee ballot applications, given the fiasco of 2010 that unexpectedly cost my Zone 5 commission seat. I make no apology for fervently pursuing the active participation of every citizen in our city,” Henry noted.
Henry: It’s a ‘witch hunt’
McFall said she was not planning to go to the State Attorney about the matter and was only considering sending a letter to Henry about carelessness when it comes to dealing with absentee ballots.
She said it is not unusual for absentee ballot request forms to be mailed to her office with careless mistakes.
Without any action on her part, McFall said she was contacted to meet with Bustanante.
McFall also said she did not turn over information involving the Mica campaign to the state attorney involving his campaign’s absentee ballot request form issues.
Henry is calling what is happening to him a “witch hunt,’’ an effort to malign his campaign.
During Henry’s 2010 re-election campaign for city commission, he ordered more than 90 absentee ballots online.
Henry was removed from his Zone 5 Daytona Beach city commission seat by then-Gov. Charlie Crist after he was charged with conspiracy to commit voter fraud and illegally obtaining absentee ballots.
After paying fines and completing other orders by a judge, the charges against Henry were dropped last year. Henry has said in interviews he never intended to break the law and was working with his campaign manager only to increase voter turnout.
After reaching a plea deal, Henry officially resigned as a city commissioner.