Crist defends controversial "No Match, No Vote " law

09/19/08 Mitch E. Perry
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Gov. Charlie Crist is defending Florida’s controversial “No Match, No Vote” law.

Speaking to reporters Friday in Orlando, Crist said “You have to be who you are, in order to vote. It makes sense to me. I don’t want election fraud.”

But critics like Rich Templin with the Florida AFL-CIO question whether the law is needed.

The Secretary of State’s office began enforcing the law on Sept. 8, following a June court decision upholding the statute. It calls for newly registered voters to provide the number from their driver’s license, state-issued ID card or Social Security card to verify their intention. The last 4 digits of the Social Security number is then sent to the state’s Department of Highway Safety and Moter Vehicles, or else to Washington with the Social Security Administration.

Sounds simple enough, but Adam Skaggs, counsel with the Democracy Program for the Brennan Center of Law in New York, says it’s not.

The new law will not affect anybody who had registered to vote prior to Sept. 8. But it does affect anybody since then and up until the deadline on Oct. 6.

Critics say Secretary of State Kurt Browning should have implemented the law earlier this summer or waited until after the election.

Jennifer Krell Davis is the spokesperson for the Secretary of State’s office. Davis says her office in Tallahassee has “processes in place” that will correct most errors in applications that they receive; they include determining whether a nickname was used instead of the formal name, or vice versa, and overrule the No Match to put that person on the file.

It’s only after failing to find any records with Social Security or DMV that it’s sent back to the local supervisor of elections.

Florida State Department spokesperson Jennifer Krell Davis says that can be done now within 24 hours.

But Skaggs says its when that information gets to the local supervisors of elections that things can get complicated.

Elizabeth Westfall is the deputy director of the Voter Protection Program at the Advancement Project, one of the counsels representing the NAACP, one of the groups that went to court to challenge the law last year. As far as the anti-fraud procedures the Legislature says are needed, Westfall calls Florida an "outlier" state. She says only two other states take as punitive an approach when it comes to ID.

As far as the AFL-CIO’s complaint that the law is partisan, supported by a Republican-led Legislature, Krell Davis from the Secretary of State’s office says that’s simply not true.

The deadline to register in Florida is Oct. 6.

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