CONGRESSMAN KENDRICK MEEK ON VOTER REGISTRATION - Mitch Perry

10/06/04

As we reported last night on the Evening News, Civil and Voting Rights groups are calling on Florida Secretary of State Glenda Hood to reverse a ruling that will leave perhaps thousands of would-be voters ineligible for the upcoming election.
The voters failed to check a citizenship box on their voter registration applications, an oversight advocates say should not preclude legal voters from going to the polls next month. Hood maintains that the failure to fully fill out the registration form means the applications are flawed -- and the would-be voters cannot vote. Yet this latest Florida election dust-up is not so clear cut. While several major counties, including Broward, are following Hood's directive, others -- like Miami-Dade, Orange, and Leon Counties -- are not. Democratic Congressman Kendrick Meek is the Chairman of the Kerry campaign in Florida. WMNF spoke to him this morning about the situation, which could adversely affect the Kerry campaign (roll tape#1 o.q.�that they are U.S. citizens�)

Meanwhile, Many of Florida's voters may still get a chance to use a paper ballot on Election Day, thanks to a long-shot lawsuit that has rocketed forward to the state's highest court. By a razor-thin margin, the Florida Supreme Court agreed yesterday to take up a lawsuit challenging the law that overhauled the state's election system after the chaotic 2000 presidential election. Justices voted to hold a hearing on the lawsuit on October 13th, setting up the possibility that they could order election supervisors to make substantial changes to Florida's election system days before voters head to the polls on November 2nd. A coalition of unions, including the AFL-CIO, want the court to order election supervisors to count so-called provisional ballots regardless of where the voter turned them in. Provisional ballots were created in the 2001 election reform law as a way to guarantee that voters whose names don't show up on the voting rolls, perhaps through error, could still vote on Election Day. If a check shows the voter is indeed eligible to vote, the ballot is counted. Provisional ballots are on paper, just like absentee ballots.

But the caveat added by state legislators is that provisional ballots must be discarded if the voter didn't go to the right precinct. Lawyers for the unions say this violates Florida's Constitution, which requires only that voters cast their ballots in their home county. In a state that has been ravaged by four hurricanes, they also say that many precincts may be changed due to damages at polling places …Again, Miami Dade County Democratic Congressman Kendrick Meek (roll tape#2 o.q.�its’ very sad�) Also yesterday, the ACLU< the American Way Foundation, and the American Federation of State, County and Muncipal Employees said they want Secretary of State Glenda Hood to act on an administrative law judge’s August 27th order requiring counties with touch-screen voting machines to conduct manural recount in tight elections.

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