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From the staff of the Tampa Bay Times

Friction persists over verifying voters



In a sometimes-contentious conference call Friday morning, Secretary of State Kurt Browning and his staff said the state voter verification law does not allow election supervisors to verify identities at early voting sites that are not election offices.

The state's reading of the so called "no match, no vote" law brought criticism from Pinellas Supervisor of Elections Deborah Clark in the conference call with large-county election supervisors.

"If we say we want to let as many people vote as possible that we can verify . . . I would think that we would be encouraged to do that," Clark told Browning.

"I have concerns about uniformity," Browning said, referring to a set of procedures he sent supervisors Sept. 5 after a federal judge upheld the law. Clark remains skeptical.

"I think the state has gone way beyond the intent of the law," Clark said.

Clark wants Pinellas poll workers to try to resolve any matching issues at the precinct or early voting sites so those people can avoid having to cast provisional ballots.

The state says the law requires that step to be done only by elections employees in an elections office and that a paper "audit trail" be created so that any changes to the voter database has corroborating evidence.

On another topic, Sarasota Supervisor Kathy Dent said she is having trouble finding space for a stampede of poll watchers at voting sites. She said 487 people have signed up to monitor voting at seven sites. Poll watchers for both parties watch voting and can challenge a voter's eligibility to cast a ballot.

Steve Bousquet, Times Capital Bureau Chief


[Last modified: Wednesday, September 15, 2010 8:55am]


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