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Hillsborough voter cards to return to old design

TAMPA — Hillsborough County's voter information cards will return to an old design that includes polling place addresses.

Kathy Harris, general counsel for Supervisor of Elections Buddy Johnson, made the announcement at a voter education forum on Thursday, two days after Johnson faced criticism for the new design.

"You all wanted it changed back to the old way? Okay. Done," Harris said.

Her comments drew applause and a sigh of "Thank you, Jesus," from the audience at the College Hill Church of God in Christ, where Johnson's African-American Advisory Board hosted a meeting to field questions about voting and elections.

Johnson introduced the revamped cards last year, sending them to newly registered voters and people in precincts where polling places had changed.

But the cards, often carried in wallets, no longer included polling locations. Instead, that detail was included on an accompanying letter outside the detachable card.

Harris explained earlier in the week that the addresses were removed because voting sites frequently change.

But some voters complained the change might create confusion or suppress voter turnout.

Those concerns were voiced to Johnson Tuesday night, and included comments from state Sen. Arthenia Joyner, D-Tampa.

She said some of her constituents threw out the letter that had the polling place on it, aren't sure where to vote and aren't able to check Johnson's Web site to correlate the precinct number on the card to the polling place address.

Johnson said he was happy to go back to the old look after hearing from the community.

"This is the way it ought to happen," he said. "I want to think you for helping me understand how to listen better."

Harris also discussed the state's "no match, no vote" law with the group.

The law prohibits voter registration if the state can't match applicants' Florida driver's license numbers, Florida identification numbers or the last four digits of Social Security numbers with state and federal databases.

Those without a proper match can vote with a provisional ballot, and have up to two days after the election to provide necessary documentation.

Harris said currently about 770 of nearly 80,000 voter applications in Hillsborough County are on hold because of identity matching problems.

Those people will receive notification letters, and possibly a phone call or personal visit from elections workers to help resolve the matter, she said.

Janet Zink can be reached at jzink@sptimes.com or (813) 226-3401.

Hillsborough voter cards to return to old design 10/09/08 [Last modified: Monday, October 13, 2008 12:54pm]
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