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Poll worker dismissed

Published:   |   Updated: May 7, 2013 at 05:43 PM

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A poll worker who allegedly allowed a candidate inside a voting precinct during the primary has been relieved of his duties.

Willie Land violated Florida statutes when he permitted candidate Shirley Anderson inside precinct 40, Supervisor of Elections Annie Williams said in an email to Anderson. The incident supposedly occurred Aug. 4 at the precinct north of Northcliffe and Mariner boulevards.

"He was trained per Florida Statute regarding who is and is not allowed to enter a polling place and that list is also located in the poll deputy training manual that he was provided with at poll deputy training," Williams said.

But Land said Thursday afternoon nobody from the elections office contacted him and he doesn't recall allowing anybody inside the precinct.

"This is the first time I've heard of it," Land said, when contacted by Hernando Today.

Land was paid his $121.75 for his duties.

"He just won't be hired back," Williams said. "He has been dismissed from our poll worker list."

Sometimes poll workers don't work out and for whatever reason are not asked back, she said.

Land said he couldn't comment further because he had no details.

Anderson, when learning of Land's punishment, said she "feels bad."

"I think it's very unfortunate that this gentleman was let go over this," Anderson said.

This all started when Anderson — a Republican running for the elections supervisor seat — sent an email to Williams, saying she went to the precinct door and asked the poll deputy at the door how many voters had cast ballots. The deputy said he didn't know and invited her inside to ask that question, Anderson said.

This is the same poll deputy, she said, who asked all candidates to move their vehicles that were not observing the 100-foot no-solicitation rule, which requires them not to park inside that prescribed limit.

Anderson said that Elizabeth Townsend, the Democratic candidate for the supervisor of elections seat, parked her personal vehicle inside the 100-foot sector with a campaign sign on the back windshield.

Williams said Townsend is allowed to do so because she was not a candidate on the primary ballot and there was no intent to solicit votes.

Williams said Townsend uses her vehicle to drive to and from work, and Florida statutes say that is not considered "participating in a political campaign for an elected office while on duty," Williams said.

Townsend said she won't park her vehicle in her reserved spot during early voting or on Election Day.

"Now that I'm on the ballot I will no longer be doing that," she said. (352) 544-5290

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