Activists angry at new law limiting petition gathering

05/15/07 Mitch E. Perry
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Florida Governor Charlie Crist is poised any day now to sign a sweeping elections reform bill .  Among the major provisions in the law is one that will move the state’s presidential primary will move from March to January 29th , 2008, making Florida the first mega state to vote in the presidential primaries.


Perhaps the most important provision will eliminate touch screen voting machines in the 15 counties that use them. 


But there are other voting related issues that passed in the legislature that are disturbing activists . (roll tape#1 o.q.”aware of it”)


Anthony Lorenzo is a Sarasota activist who worked with the group SAFE- Sarasota Alliance for Fair Elections.  He says another law passed in the will allow grocery stores to in public places to ban citizens from collecting signature petitions in front of their properties    (roll tape#2 o.q.”to redress grievances”)


Another controversial provision in the Voting Bill would sharply limit the number of investigations that could be undertaken by the Florida Elections Commission. 


The Miami Herald reported today that the head of the Florida Elections Commission, Chance Irvine, wants Governor Crist to veto the bill because of that provision.


The legislation says a person filing a complaint MUST have personal knowledge of an election law violation, instead of relying on newspaper reports or through 3rd parties.

But because the main issue of the legislation – banning electronic voting machines – is the key part of the bill – other activists are not encouraging the Govenor to veto the legislation.   Activist Anthony Lorenzo says he understands that, but says this move could really hurt grass roots activism   (roll tape#3 O.Q.”ON THE BALLOT”)


Lorenzo is referring to his work with the group the Coalition for Instant Run Off Voting –  They were successful in getting a measure on the ballot this fall that would allow citizens to weigh in on having an Instant run off voting system.  That would eliminate runoff elections  and allows voters to choose their candidates in numerical order.

 That measure will be on the November ballot in Sarasota.  But they’re now  being sued by Publix and  Whole Foods for petitioning on their property.  And activist Anthony Lorenzo says he’s looking for legal help in defending himself (roll tape#3 o.q.”whole foods case”)

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