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From the staff of the Tampa Bay Times

Greer says supervisors need to follow law

27

October

Republican Party of Florida Chairman Jim Greer is calling out local elections officials, including Pinellas County supervisor Deb Clark, who are deviating from guidelines under the controversial "no match" voter verification law.

From a Greer news release: "Despite the clear language of the law, the practices outlined on the Pinellas Supervisor of Elections website call for regular ballots, not provisional ballots, to be issued to voters whose information has not been verified before they arrive at the polling place. According to the Pinellas Supervisor of Elections, “If a citizen with a pending application brought identification to the polls that matches the identification number that he/she has on the application, the application would be considered completed, and the voter would be given a regular ballot." (full release below)

News release:

Republican Party of Florida Chairman Jim Greer today called on Florida’s Supervisors of Elections to follow the law when determining voter verification in order to ensure a free and fair elections process.

“By and large, County Supervisors of Elections are doing their jobs and working to ensure the utmost integrity to our elections process,” noted Chairman Greer. “Some Supervisors, however, are inappropriately taking matters into their own hands and implementing indiscriminate procedures that may ultimately threaten the legitimacy and very results of this critical election.”

Questions have arisen regarding provisional ballots and the simple requirements voters must verify in order to vote. 

“Quite simply, if a person has not provided the necessary evidence before arriving to vote, that voter will cast a provisional ballot,” said Chairman Greer. “The law is clear here, identification must be verified prior to a voter entering a polling location on Election Day. Why? Because every single Florida voter deserves to rest assured that the voter casting a ballot in the next booth over is really casting a legal, legitimate vote and not canceling out our own legal, legitimate votes.”

Florida’s Voter Verification Law, Section 97.053 (6), F.S., states, “If the applicant has not provided the necessary evidence or the number has not otherwise been verified prior to the applicant presenting himself or herself to vote, the applicant shall be provided a provisional ballot.”  In a memo dated October 21, 2008, an attorney for the Supervisor of Elections Association confirmed this reading, stating “It is clear from the language in the statute that if the applicant presents himself or herself to vote and has not had the information verified prior to that time, he or she is to be provided a provisional ballot.”

Despite the clear language of the law, the practices outlined on the Pinellas Supervisor of Elections website call for regular ballots, not provisional ballots, to be issued to voters whose information has not been verified before they arrive at the polling place. According to the Pinellas Supervisor of Elections, “If a citizen with a pending application brought identification to the polls that matches the identification number that he/she has on the application, the application would be considered completed, and the voter would be given a regular ballot.”

“I am calling on the Supervisors to follow the clear letter of the law which, as stated by the Supervisors’ own lawyer, means provisional ballots for unverified voters at the polls,” said Greer. “This is a common sense law that has been reviewed an upheld by the courts. Voters whose identity could not be verified have received notification and have had several weeks to verify with the local supervisors that they are eligible to vote. Therefore, those who have not done so will cast a provisional ballot until their status can be verified by the supervisor as the law provides,” continued Greer.

The Seminole County Supervisor of Elections has developed a streamlined procedure that allows voters whose ID doesn’t match either the state Social Security or driver’s license database to verify their information while casting a provisional ballot. Unmatched voters can provide a copy of their identification and include the copy in an envelope with their provisional ballot. A provisional ballot is still used, as the law requires, but the process is streamlined, saving the voter an additional trip to the Supervisor’s office.

“Giving voters the opportunity to verify their information, while still remaining consistent with the law is the right road for our supervisors to take as we continue with early voting and move forward towards Election Day. This compromise ensures that we have a free and fair elections process, in which the Voter Verification Law is enforced uniformly across the state, rather than an arbitrary system in which supervisors enforce their own definitions of the law, even allowing voters who have not previously matched their identification to cast regular ballots at the polls,” said Greer. “This is a compromise the Supervisors’ own lawyer has agreed to.”

“Republicans continue to encourage new voters to get involved in our political process, and we suggest that voters check their status with their local Supervisor of Elections and to pay close attention to the forms they are filling out. Voting in our elections is one of the most important things we as Americans can do, and Republicans want as many legal, legitimate voters involved in the process as possible,” concluded Greer.

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[Last modified: Tuesday, September 14, 2010 5:40pm]

    

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