Florida will require I.D. match for all would-be voters

Miami HeraldSeptember 9, 2008 

TALLAHASSEE — 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 on Friday that the 2006 law, which has been on hold for the last year pending court rulings, would take effect again Sept. 8.

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.

Browning acknowledged that the court case prompted the state to make changes to its voter match process during the 2008 legislative session but he said the voting rights proponents are now being sore losers.

''They just don't want to admit the system might just work'' so they are ''loose with the facts,'' he said.

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.

Election officials try to match the would-be voter's information with state and federal databases. If there is no match, the applicant is asked to provide more information.

This year, the legislature changed the law, requiring county elections officials to scan all voter registration applications. Any that don't match will be quickly reviewed by the Bureau of Voter Registration. If there are no typographical errors or other obvious problems, counties will ask voters for more information.

Read the full story at MiamiHerald.com.

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