Monday, September 15, 2008

GOP RIGGING FLORIDA ELECTION AGAIN

Miami Herald - State elections officials will resume enforcement of a controversial state law that requires Floridians to have their identification match up with a state or federal database in order to register to vote.
Secretary of State Kurt Browning sent notice to the state's 67 supervisors of elections that the 2006 law, which has been on hold for the last year pending court rulings, would take effect again.

The result is that voters whose identification doesn't match with state files on Election Day will be given a provisional ballot and two days to prove their identity for their ballot to count.

Voting rights activists, who had unsuccessfully challenged the constitutionality of the law, blasted the decision, saying it allows the state to rely on what they consider error-prone databases in the month before voter registration ends on Oct. 6.

"This 11th-hour decision is an ill-advised move to apply a policy the state has never enforced in its current form, at a time when registration activity is at its highest, said Alvaro Fernandez of the Southwest Voter Registration and Education Project, a plaintiff in the case along with the NAACP and the Haitian-American Grassroots Coalition. . .

The law, passed by the Republican-led legislature in 2005, requires Floridians registering to vote to supply a drivers license number or the last four digits of their social security number. Proponents of the law say it was needed to prevent voter fraud. . .

Elizabeth Westfall, senior attorney with the Washington, D.C.-based Advancement Project, a civil rights group, said that when the law was in effect in 2006 and 2007, it disproportionately excluded Latino and African American voters who often had double last names that often didn't register accurately in the data files.

The civil rights groups sued the state in September 2007, won an injunction in December and the state won a reversal on appeal in June in federal district court in Atlanta. The ruling became final on July 28 and was not enforced during registration for the Aug. 26 primary.

Westfall says to enforce the law now "creates quite a bit of chaos and needless disenfranchisement."

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