Florida House candidate Webster Barnaby and his supporters violated election law when they approached voters and solicited votes inside two West Volusia polling places, according to notarized statements from two Elections Office employees and one citizen.
The statements say Barnaby or his supporters escorted some voters into a side door of the polling place at the Wayne G. Sanborn Activity Center in DeLand on Aug. 23, and that Barnaby approached voters directly inside the polling place at The Center at Deltona during early voting.
Election law prohibits campaigning, either person-to-person or by the display of apparel or campaign materials, within 150 feet of a voting location.
Copies of the three statements were provided to The Beacon Sept. 13 by a representative of Barnaby’s opponent in the Florida House District 29 primary, Elizabeth Fetterhoff.
Having defeated Fetterhoff by 30 votes in the Republican primary, Barnaby now faces Democrat Rick Karl, a DeLand attorney, in the Tuesday, Nov. 8, election.
Barnaby, who lives in Deltona, currently serves in the Florida House as the representative for District 27, and Fetterhoff, a DeLand resident, currently represents District 26. Redistricting put them both in the newly drawn District 29, and set off a contentious primary battle between the two Republicans.
According to one of the statements, when a poll worker at The Center at Deltona asked Barnaby to not come inside the 150-foot boundary during early voting, Barnaby raised his voice.
“… I informed him he could not be in the building soliciting, Mr. Barnaby said he did no such thing and explained he was taking care of personal business,” the employee wrote in a statement. “… He did raise his voice stating he had the right to face his accusers … .”
The poll worker stated they escorted Barnaby out of the polling place, but observed him inside the boundary again a few hours later.
The statement by Maria Davila, a Fetterhoff supporter, said she spent part of Election Day, Aug. 23, at the Sanborn Center polling place in Earl Brown Park in DeLand. Davila wrote that she witnessed Barnaby repeatedly talking directly to voters inside the polling place.
According to Davila, a group of Barnaby supporters was standing such that anyone who came inside had to pass them: “Anyone and everyone that came to vote had to go through them first,” she wrote.
“It wasn’t long before an employee of supervisor of elections arrived requesting him to leave the building with his team,” Davila said in her complaint. “He [the Elections Office employee] came 3-4 times and told him [Barnaby] he could not be in there and that he needed to step 150 ft away from the building. Webster Barnaby refused and became verbally aggressive raising his voice towards the gentlemen.”
Asked about the statements, Barnaby said he had not been informed of them and had no comment.
“I have no answers. No comments. Nothing to give you,” Barnaby told The Beacon. “This is utter garbage on your part. You’ve got to be more responsible. The story’s a nothingburger, nothing.“
Barnaby also said, “The election’s over. I won.”
The Fetterhoff representative said the statements were being sent to the Florida Commission on Ethics as formal complaints, but Elections Supervisor Lisa Lewis said her employees agreed only to provide informational statements to the Fetterhoff campaign, not to file formal complaints.
“These employees are not filing an ethics complaint against anyone. They did not submit a complaint form to the Commission on Ethics. IF it was submitted, it was not to their knowledge,” Lewis said in a statement issued Sept. 13.
Complaints submitted to the Ethics Commission are not public records while they are being reviewed.