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From the staff of the Tampa Bay Times

Obama's 'voter protection' effort in Florida



Barack Obama's Florida campaign brought Michelle Obama to the phone Tuesday to call attention to its voter protection effort, with a toll-free number to help voters (1-877-2FLOBAMA) and a list of all Florida early voting sites on the campaign site, "We need to reverse the trend of past elections when millions of Americans stayed home on Election Day and they miss their chance at shaping history," Mrs. Obama said.

Obama Florida director Steve Schale and Boston lawyer David Sullivan, head of the voter protection program in Florida, said the push to steer people to the campaign for voting help should not be seen as a lack of confidence in Florida election supervisors. In fact, Sullivan said the Obama campaign has lots of confidence in the recently-restructured Palm Beach County elections operation, headed by a deputy county administrator.

The Republican Party of Florida has praised the Obama campaign for its effort, but urged the Democrat to do more, such as condemning the use of the "no match, no vote" term as "a scare tactic by left-wing advocacy groups." RPOF spokeswoman Erin VanSickle said: "This law is about verifying identity, not prohibiting someone from voting." (The GOP voter-assistance site is

Secretary of State Kurt Browning has criticized the aggressive lawyering by both presidential campaigns in Florida, and has predicted it will lead to lawsuits. "Both parties (are) flying in, busing in, trucking in attorneys," Browning said Tuesday.

"Our lawyers are not about filing lawsuits," Sullivan said. "We care about protecting the right to vote." He said the campaign will be watching closely when the polls open at early voting sites Monday for long lines, and he again debunked a couple of persistent (and false) rumors: that campaign paraphernalia is prohibited at the polls and that a voter's driver license address, if presented at the polls, must match the voter's voting address in the precinct register. (A license is used for identification, nothing else). 

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


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