CNN WINS LAWSUIT AGAINST STATE ON FELON LIST - Mitch Perry

07/01/04

A Leon County Circuit Court judge today struck down a state law that prevents copying a state list with names of more than 47,000 registered voters who may be deleted from the voter rolls because the state has identified them as possible ex-felons.

At issue was a Florida Statute that substantially restricts access to public voter registration records. Although the list technically is a public record, the statute broadly prohibits people and organizations from copying the records or taking notes from them. Only certain people and groups, such as political parties or candidates, have access to the records.

Larry Spaulding is Legislative Counsel for the ACLU in Florida. (roll tape#1 o.q."Judge Clarke found")

A month ago, CNN filed suit against the state's Division of Elections , saying that the list might dis-enfranchise the 47,000 plus people whose names are on the list.

While the felons have been flagged in the database, state officials argued that none would be purged from rolls unless county supervisors determine through further research that the convictions are valid.

Florida is one of seven states where convicted felons lose their right to vote. Felons may apply to have that right restored once their sentence is served.

The CNN lawsuit was filed after a public-records request for the list was denied in May. Florida U.S. Senator Bill Nelson later joined in the lawsuit.

Tampa attorney Gregg. Thomas is from the law firm Holland & Knight, which is representing the news organizations, including CNN, the New York Times, Media General, ABC and Gannett.(roll tape#2 o.q."you get to vote")

Later this afternoon, Florida Secretary of State Glenda Hood announced that the state would NOT appeal, meaning the news organizations could have access to the voter list by this evening.

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