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'This Is Wrong': Florida Senator Annette Taddeo On Political Party Affiliation Changes Without Voters Knowledge

MIAMI (CBSMiami) –  Some Florida voters are raising a red flag, saying their political party affiliation was changed without their consent and they want to make sure it doesn't happen again.

Several senior citizens who claim their party affiliation was changed without informed consent spoke at a press conference Friday alongside Florida State Senator Annette Taddeo.

Taddeo, a Democrat who announced her bid to run against Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis last October, called for an investigation into the voter registration fraud claims back in December 2021 by sending a letter to the State Attorney.

Friday she stood with four victims, all of whom were senior citizens who lived in the same apartment building in Little Havana, and whose party affiliations were changed from Democrat to Republican without informed consent.

"I don't care what party it is; I don't care what side you're on. This is wrong and should not happen," said Taddeo.

Juan Salazar, who has been a registered Democrat since 1985, was among the people speaking with Taddeo.

The 77-year-old told CBS4 News that he never intended to switch his party affiliation, nor did he know that's what he was doing when he was approached by a political canvasser outside of his apartment.

"They said they were going to send the new registration card, I said, 'They send it automatically?' and they said 'No, you fill out the application you're gonna receive it faster'," recalled Salazar.

Salazar went on to explain that he was told he was signing a form to receive a new voter registration card, but nothing else. He showed CBS4 News his original voter registration card, and the new one he received which clearly shows the party affiliation change.

Voter Registration Cards
(CBS4)

"My old one from 1985, the new one they switched me to Republican," said Salazar.

Taddeo told CBS4 News that she has spoken to several people across multiple counties, including Miami-Dade and Pinellas, who reported they too had their party affiliation changed without consent.

The Senator also said she spoke to a woman who was hired by Florida First, a 501(c)4 political advocacy organization, who allegedly told Taddeo he quit after learning what they were asking her to do.

"What the lady in Hillsborough told me is that they were constantly encouraged and given bonuses for registering republicans," said Taddeo.

When asked if she thinks this was a concerted effort by the Republican Party of Florida Taddeo said it "seems" to be.

CBS4 News asked if there was any evidence she's come across that points to the Republican Party of Florida being involved. Taddeo shared photos of a canvasser that were taken by one of the individual's whose party affiliation was changed without their knowledge.

In the photo, the canvasser's badge identifies her as working on behalf of the Republican Party of Florida. But it has not been confirmed if the individual was indeed working with or for the Republican Party of Florida.

In response to the allegations, Helen Aguirre Ferre, the Executive Director of the Republican Party of Florida said in part:  "RPOF conducts its voter registration in accordance with all applicable laws and regulations. Individuals are free to make any decision related to party affiliation - which includes choosing not to register with a political party."

The statement also includes:

"Our vendor [September Group] also informs us that they are taking additional measures to avoid any possible confusion amongst voters choosing to change their party affiliation. This includes using a document with a disclaimer written in both English and Spanish language that voters complete acknowledging they are aware that they are changing their party affiliation."

Aguirre Ferre's statement went on to say:

"Election integrity is critically important, and it continues to be a priority for the Republican Party of Florida in this legislative session." 

State Attorney Katherine Fernandez Rundle released a statement saying in part:

"We are aware of recent reports relating to voter registration fraud, and we have been investigating these claims for several weeks now as we take these allegations very seriously." 

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