Florida Voting

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"No-Match, No-Vote" Law Draws Criticism

By BILL KACZOR

[Election 2008]

 

 

Trouble Predicted in Counting Florida's New Ballots - Again

Secretary of State Kurt Browning, Florida's top election official, disputed those claims, contending recent changes in the law and procedures make it "much more voter-friendly."

The state's "no-match, no-vote" law requires election officials to verify applicants' driver license numbers or the last four digits of their Social Security numbers by using government databases.

Voter rights advocates criticized Browning for beginning to enforce the law less than 30 days before the Oct. 6 registration deadline for the Nov. 4 election. They say that's too little time to get it fully working with local election officials.

"The secretary's decision will put thousands of real Florida citizens at risk due to bureaucratic typos that under the 'no-match, no-vote' law will prevent them from voting this November," said Alvaro Fernandez of the Southwest Voter Education Project.

His group challenged the law in federal court along with the Florida chapter of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People and Haitian-American Grassroots Coalition.

A judge last year issued a preliminary injunction against enforcing the 2005 law. An appellate court in April overturned that decision and returned the case to the trial court. Meanwhile, the Legislature modified the law. The judge cited those changes in recently upholding it.

"We could have implemented this sooner, but the timing just wasn't right," Browning said.

He held off because computers needed to put it into effect were not ready until shortly before the deadline to register for the August primary. That would have been too rushed, so Browning put it off until after the primary, said Department of State spokeswoman Jennifer Krell Davis.

Local election officials must notify voters by mail if their numbers do not match. Applicants can appeal by bringing their driver licenses, state identification cards or Social Security cards to the elections office or sending a copy by mail, fax or e-mail.

 

(The Associated Press)

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