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article imageEnforcing Florida's 'No Match, No Vote' Law Begins

By Susan Duclos     Sep 11, 2008 in Politics
With the court battles solved and the dust settled, Florida has begun to enforce the "No Match, No Vote' law that was passed in 2006, stayed by injunction in 2007, with the state winning on appeal in 2008. On September 8, 2008, enforcement began.
The "No Match, No Vote" law requires Floridians to have their identification match up with state or federal databases in order to be able to register to vote.
The Miami Herald reports that on September 5, 2008, Kurt Browning, Secretary of State, notified the 67 state supervisors of elections, telling them the 2006 law would start being enforced as of September 8, 2008.
If a Florida voter's identification does not match the state or federal databases, they will be given a provisional ballot and two days to prove their identity in order for their ballot to count.
Proponents of the law maintain this will help prevent voter fraud on election day and opponents of the law assert this will disenfranchise voters.
Floridians wishing to register, under the "No Match, No Vote" law will have to provide their drivers license number or the last four digits of their social security number to election officials, who then match those numbers up with their databases. If no match is found, the person registering will be asked to provide more information.
Changes were made to the law this year to accommodate the opponents of the law, where county elections officials will scan all voters registrations and if there is not a match with the databases, it will then be reviewed by the Bureau of Voter Registration. If no obvious errors are found on the application, then applicants will be asked for further information.
The law was not enforced during the primaries, according to Browning, to give election officials time to make the appropriate changes to the computer systems and registration had already closed by the time the court order became final.
Voters whose information doesn't match the databases may still show up to vote on Election Day, but they will be given a provisional ballot. Their vote will then be counted only if they verify their identity by showing a valid identification card, a social security card or a Florida driver's license to election officials within two days of casting the vote.
One of the plaintiffs who challenged the law unsuccessfully was Alvaro Fernandez from the Southwest Voter Registration and Education Project, says, "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."
Browning, who was a former Pasco County supervisor of elections himself, says opponents of the law are just being "sore losers," and he continues on to say, "They just don't want to admit the system might just work'' so they are ''loose with the facts."
Another opponent of the law from a civil rights group, Elizabeth Westfall who is a senior attorney with the Washington, D.C.-based Advancement Project believes the law will adversely effect Latino and African American voters who sometimes have double last names that do not register accurately in data files.
Voter fraud has been a problem in the U.S. for decades which prompted Congress in 2002 to pass the Help America Vote Act in 2002 and as of June 2008, reports were still showing voter fraud as an ongoing problem with dead people still being registered in certain states as reported by Fox News and other news organizations.
Jane Drury voted last year in an election in Stonington, Conn. The only problem is, she died eight years ago.
Her daughter, Jane Gumpel, thought someone must have goofed.
“I was surprised because this is not possible,” she said.
But it did happen. The town clerk’s record clearly shows Drury’s vote, marked by a horizontal line poll workers put next to her name. And it turns out Drury isn’t the only voter who apparently cast a ballot from the grave
Other problems show that it is not only dead people who are being registered but as OPB News reports, children and pets are getting voter applications as well.
The misplaced invites come from special interest groups, not the state. And Oregon elections director John Lindback says it’s not just dead people getting voter registration cards.
John Lindback: “Some people are receiving cards in the name of their pets. One card that was returned to us said that the person was six years old. So we just thought it was important to notify the public that these cards are not coming from the Secretary of State.”
One of the interest groups that have made headlines as well as having certain members indicted for voter fraud in previous elections, and has been in the headlines this campaign season, was the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now, or ACORN, which is the nation's largest community organization of low- and moderate-income families.
According to the Milwaukee Election Commission and reported by JS Online, up to 15 members of ACORN are under scrutiny now for signing up dead, imprisoned or fictitious voters.
Via PennLive .com, Milwaukee is not the only area this season where workers for ACORN are being investigated by authorities.
Wikipedia shows a list from 2004 of legal problems for members of ACORN and false voter registrations by their employees.
# In Ohio in 2004, four ACORN employees were indicted by a federal grand jury for submitting false voter registration forms.
# In January 2005 two Colorado ACORN workers were sentenced to community service for submitting false voter registrations. ACORN's regional director said, "we find it abhorrent and do everything we can to prevent it from happening."
# On November 1, 2006, four part time ACORN employees were indicted in Kansas City, Missouri for voter registration fraud, after being caught, fired, and turned in by ACORN. Prosecutors said the indictments are part of a national investigation. ACORN said in a press release that it is in large part responsible in these individuals being caught, and has cooperated and publicly supported efforts to look into the validity of the allegations.
# ACORN was investigated in 2006 for submitting false voter registrations in St. Louis, Missouri. 1,492 fraudulent voter registrations were identified.[citation needed]
# In 2007, five Washington state ACORN workers were sentenced to jail time. ACORN agreed to pay King County $25 000 for its investigative costs and acknowledged that the national organization could be subject to criminal prosecution if fraud occurs again. According to King County Prosecuting Attorney Dan Satterberg, the misconduct was done "as an easy way to get paid [by ACORN], not as an attempt to influence the outcome of elections.
Voter fraud has been a problem for years and there is no reason to assume that elections officials will not have to be as vigilant in the 2008 elections as they have had to be in all the previous years.
Voter ID laws and other laws geared toward preventing voter fraud have been passed in multiple states with Florida now being the latest to implement precautions against this type of fraud.
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