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Association of Florida Election Supervisors Announces Election Day Solution for No-Match Voters
Advocates Urge County
Election Supervisors to Adopt On-site Verification Procedures for Nov 4th
Florida – Today the Brennan Center for Justice and Advancement Project called on Florida’s 67 county election supervisors to allow “unmatched” voters to present identification on Election Day that will resolve any registration verification issues and ensure that thousand of voters will be allowed to cast regular ballots that will be counted on November 4th. The groups’ letter follows Tuesday’s announcement from the Florida State Association of Supervisors of Elections that local supervisors can and should create procedures to verify voters who do not match in state databases on Election Day and thereby prevent thousands of voters from being forced to cast provisional ballots that often go uncounted and disenfranchise voters. Secretary of State Kurt Browning, who initially took the position that county election officials were prohibited from developing an Election Day solution, has acknowledged in recent public statements that they are authorized to do so.
“This is a major victory for Florida’s voters,” said Adam Skaggs, counsel at the Brennan Center for Justice. “Tuesday’s announcement from the association of state election supervisors is a directive to every county that they can and should adopt procedures to verify any unmatched voters, including at the polls on Election Day. Supervisors of elections have the authority – and responsibility – to reduce the chances that eligible voters’ ballots go uncounted on Election Day, and that includes 'no match’ voters,” Skaggs stated.
“We strongly urge country election supervisors to adopt Election Day solutions for un-matched voters,” stated Elizabeth Westfall, senior attorney at the Advancement Project. “These solutions will ensure that voters are not disenfranchised by typos or other bureaucratic errors, and will protect the integrity of the election by ensuring that all eligible voters have their votes counted,” Westfall continued.
As highlighted in today’s New York Times editorial, Florida’s “no-match, no-vote” law has threatened to deny thousands of eligible Florida citizens the right to have their votes counted this election. On September 8, 2008, the Florida Secretary of State instructed election officials to reject voter registration applications that do not pass an error-prone computer match process for verifying a voter’s registration. In the first three weeks of the policy, 15% of registrations were initially bounced because of failed computer matches; election officials were able to catch and correct obvious typos in about ¾ of these cases, but to date, approximately 9,000 voters are still being kept off the rolls. An analysis of the list of blocked voters reveals that African Americans make up 39% of blocked voters whose race is known, and Latinos make up 34% of blocked voters whose race is known.
“By adopting an Election Day solution that will ensure eligible citizens’ votes are counted, election supervisors can reduce bureaucratic burdens on voters and election administrators and head off any controversy over voters whose votes are unnecessarily – and unconstitutionally - rejected on November 4th,” said Wendy Weiser, director of voting rights and elections at the Brennan Center
The voting advocates’ letter also urges election supervisors to conduct public education through their websites, public service announcements, and other means of communication in order to apprise unverified voters of the state’s revised policy and provide steps that unverified voters may take on Election Day to ensure that they will be permitted to vote by regular ballot.
The October 21st letter from the Florida State Association of Supervisors of Elections is available upon request.
More information about “no match, no vote” in Florida, including the Brennan Center’s challenge the law filed in 2007, is available here.
Visit the Brennan Center website for additional resources on Current Voter Suppression Incidents, a report on all 50 states’ readiness for Election Day voting problems, the secret and error-prone practice of vote purging, a debunking of voter fraud claims nationwide, the only comprehensive study of how states implement the data matching provisions like Florida’s, and the Brennan Center’s proposal for Universal Voter Registration – a way to make sure every eligible citizen in the country is registered to vote