Florida Law May Cause Thousands of Votes to Be Tossed Out
by Lateefah Williams*, 9/16/2008
Under Florida's "No-Match, No-Vote" law, individuals who have registered to vote and displayed valid ID at the polls may still have their votes invalidated. On September 8, Florida's Secretary of State decided to enforce the controversial law. The "No-Match, No-Vote" law requires that a person's driver's license number or social security number be verified before they are registered to vote. According to an article on AlterNet, "State officials admitted in a recent challenge to the law, Florida NAACP v. Browning, that typographical errors by election workers are responsible for most of the failures." Yet, unsuspecting voters are the ones who are penalized. The same article states that the law "previously blocked more than 16,000 eligible Florida citizens from registering to vote, through no fault of their own, and could disenfranchise tens of thousands more voters in November." Many voters will not realize that there is a problem with their voter registration until they show up to vote and are forced to cast provisional ballots. Then, they must show photo ID at the polls to cast the provisional ballot. Even after showing photo ID to cast the provisional ballot, they then must send a photocopy of their driver's license or social security card to election officials within 48 hours of the election or their vote will not count. Myrna Pérez, counsel at the Brennan Center for Justice, told AlterNet that, "voters who do everything right, who submit forms that are complete, timely, and accurate, will suddenly find themselves unregistered when they go to vote, just because someone somewhere punched the wrong letter on a keyboard." In June, a federal trial court in Gainesville, Florida, refused to stop the "no-match, no-vote" law in Florida NAACP vs. Browning after challenges from various advocacy groups. The court had previously granted an injunction against the law, but the state legislature revised the statute and the Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals overturned the decision. Plaintiffs then appealed the amended law, but the court was satisfied with the legislature's changes and refused to enjoin the law.