FBI investigates voter intimidation letters sent to Florida Republicans

A strange story has been brewing in Florida, where a number of people have received official-looking letters claiming they are ineligible to vote.  The state of Florida, of course, undertook a high-profile effort to clean up its voter registration earlier this year. (Number of people unfairly “disenfranchised” by this program: Zero.)  The hoax letters inform targeted voters that their citizenship status has been called into question.  The goal appears to be intimidating voters out of participation in early voting by absentee ballot, which begins this weekend in Florida.

These letters, which falsely claim to originate from legitimate county election supervisors in Florida, are actually coming from Seattle.  They’ve turned up in 28 different counties.  And the targets of the hoax are mostly Republicans, although a few registered Democrats and independents have also reported receiving the hoax letters.  NBC News reports “between 50 and 100 such letters have been reported to state officials so far,” although it’s unlikely all of them have been reported to the authorities.

That’s a pretty big operation, with a lot of postage costs, and considerable effort was invested in making the letters look authentic.  It doesn’t sound like a couple of kids goofing around in a Seattle garage.

The chairman of the Republican Party of Florida, Lenny Curry, received one of the letters on Tuesday, according to WKMG News in Orlando.  Curry said the letters were “disgusting, criminal, and must be prosecuted to the full extent of the law,” and called on Florida Democrats to condemn the voter intimidation campaign.

The FBI has gotten involved, along with the Florida Department of Law Enforcement and the U.S. Postal Service.