Elections director gives talk on ‘radical Islam’

A county elections director in Florida invited poll workers to attend a presentation on what he calls “the history of radical Islam.” 

The event, which took place Thursday night at the local cultural center, raised grave concerns among local Muslims about potential voter intimidation.

Paul Stamoulis, the elections supervisor for Charlotte County, Florida, sent an email to county poll-workers advertising the presentation, the local NBC affiliate reported. One poll worker who received the email called it “a little shocking.”

The news channel also showed a flyer promoting the talk, on which Stamoulis’s title appeared prominently: “Supervisor of Elections, Charlotte County.”

“Somebody in a position like that should not be involved in indoctrinating his poll-workers,” Mohamed al-Darsani of the Islamic Center for Peace in nearby Fort Myers told The Daily Democracy Thursday afternoon before the talk. “They’re targeting a small, meek minority. Who’s next?”

Stamoulis, a Republican first elected in 2008, didn’t respond to our requests for comment via phone and email. But he told NBC2 that he sees the presentation as voter education, saying it’s an important issue for voters and poll workers. 

Brian Gleason, a spokesman for Charlotte County, declined to comment, saying Florida’s local elections directors don’t work for the county. An aide to Charlotte County Attorney Janette Knowlton said she too would have no comment. 

Wilfredo Ruiz of the Florida chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations said his group planned to protest outside Stamoulis’s event. He also said CAIR was looking into whether public funds were used to promote the talk.

Last year, elections officials in Palm Beach County, Florida removed a mosque as a polling site after receiving threats. 

Update 5:30pm: After the outcry, Stamoulis appears to have changed the title of his talk. Previously it was called “The History of Radical Islam,” according to the flyer shown by NBC. Now, he tells a local paper, the Port Charlotte Sun, that it’s called “The History of ISIS, al Qaida, and radical Islam.” Stamoulis is now emphasizing that his message will be that a small group of radical Muslims should not define the U.S. refugee program, and that most refugees are peaceful and are seeking a better life for their families. 

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