When Jill Green's election signs were first stolen this year in the Sapphire Shores neighborhood, she thought it was a case of sour grapes, but now it turned scary.
Green received a bizarre message on a postcard from the person who claimed to have stolen her Democrat candidate signs.
On one side of the postcard, there's a picture of President Ronald Reagan with "Hero" underneath and President Barack Obama with "Zero" underneath his picture. On the other side is a long rant about how Democrat yard signs attract criminals.
"I live around the corner from you and when I see signs that support Democrats I fear for the safety of our neighborhood," the person writes under a pseudonym, Bat Masterson—a 1950s TV character based on a real Wild West marshal.
Green said she feels violated.
"It scared me that this was not a Democratic society," Green told Patch via a Skype call from Costa Rica, where she spends part of her year. "Here's this guy who was willing to violate Democracy because he believes that the Republicans are the only way to go, so let's get rid of Democrats."
Every year signs are stolen in almost every election. And fights ensue. The Bradenton Herald recently reported a story about two mayoral candidates who got into a public argument over signs.
But for Green this takes it to a new level.
In early October, Green placed her two signs to show support for President Barack Obama and Congressional candidate Keith Fitzgerald, a Democrat, in her yard, and by the weekend of Oct. 10 her signs were stolen.
Fed up with both the sign theft and her experience attempting to reporting it to police, Green wrote a letter to the editor to The Herald-Tribune that appeared Oct. 14. She picked up another Obama and Fitzgerald sign, placing it next to her door after that, those were gone the following day, and then in a week's time, she received the postcard.
Green describes the neighborhood as politically and demographically mixed, and it's where Fitzgerald lives, too. Four other Sapphire Shores residents told Patch their Democrat yard signs were stolen, too, during October. But Green appears to be the only one who received the postcard.
"I'd like to know who it is," Green said.
Here is the text of the postcard:
My apologies for your Democrat yard signs, but I can explain.
I live around the corner from you and when I see signs that support Democrats I fear for the safety of our neighborhood. When thieves drive through Sapphire Shores scoping out possible targets and see pro-Democrat yard signs they automatically assume that the subdivision is filled with retards and half-wits.
The gangsters think it's easy pickings because they already know that if a person votes Democrat they probably don't have the sense to come in out of the rain, not to mention locking their doors or securing their valuables. It is common knowledge amongst burglars that Democrats are anti-gun and anti-Second Amendment so when they see campaign signs that promote Democrats they know the homeowners are not armed and therefore unable to protect themselves from attack.
You are not concerned about a robber breaking into your home because you have the Sarasota Police Department to guard and protect you. You sleep safe knowing what a great job they did with tracking down the hooligans that took the signs depicting your misguided support.
— Bat Masterson
This isn't the first time Green has had her election signs stolen. During the 2008 election, her signs were shredded, burned and placed in her mailbox, Green said. She didn't report that incident either.
"I was leaving again for Costa Rica again, so I didn't do anything about it," she said.
She wonders if that person is the same culprit.
"That was more violent and actually vandalism," Green said about the 2008 incident.
But it is the first time she received a personal message like the postcard.
"That was scary," she said.
The only thing comical to her about this is the name the person chose to sign the postcard with — Bat Masterson.
"Let's get the posse out here," Green cracked. "It was grammatically correct. He's somewhat educated."
Ron Turner, chief of staff for the Sarasota County Supervisor of Elections, says he has seen his share of bizarre or questionable voter intimidation tactics this election season, but the postcard?
"That was one I haven't seen," Turner told Patch, but based on looking at it, it appears to be one person instead of an organized effort such as the suspicious citizenship letters that appeared to be from Supervisor of Elections Kathy Dent. The FBI is investigating that case.
Another case the Supervisor of Elections is responding to a case where voters are being asked about their voting record, Turner said. When you voted is open to public record. Who you voted for isn't, he explained, but it's unclear of the motives for intimidating voters for their record.
Turner encourages residents who have their signs stole to file a police report to get it on the books, as well as receiving evidence such as the postcard.
The Sarasota Police Department ran 25 reports for various reports of criminal mischief, vandalism, theft, suspicious activity in the Indian Beach and Sapphire Shores neighborhoods in October and nothing related to election signs being destroyed or stolen returned. There's not a specific charge for election sign theft, so it's a difficult incident to track, according to the department.
Green said that's partially on her for not following through and making an official report, but as she explained in a Letter to the Editor, the Sarasota Police Department had issues with their non-emergency number and she had enough of playing phone tag to make a complaint.
"I would have called the police back, but I just kind of gave up," Green said.
Voters could also call the state's Voter Fraud Hotline at 1-877-868-3737, which deals with irregularities, though Turner admits he's not sure how the state could handle a case like Green's.
For Green, she just wants this to end—for every election.
"Of course I want it to stop," she said. "I wish this life wasn't like this and this was a true Democratic society, but obviously it's not."