Saturday, December 16, 2017
Politics

PolitiFact: MSNBC's Chris Matthews gets details of Florida voting law wrong

Count MSNBC's Chris Matthews among those who think a new voting law passed in Florida in 2011 is bad public policy.

On his show Hardball, Matthews discussed the law — in particular, a requirement that voter registration groups return signed applications within 48 hours or face fines — with Lenny Curry, the Republican Party of Florida chairman, and Judith Browne-Dianis, co-director of a civil rights group called the Advancement Project.

Matthews and his guests were discussing U.S. District Judge Robert Hinkle's decision last month to deem the 48-hour rule unconstitutional.

"He said — quote — 'If the goal is to discourage voter registration drives, and thus also to make it harder for new voters to register, this may work. Otherwise, there is little reason for such a requirement,' " Matthews said, quoting Hinkle.

From there, Matthews dressed down Curry, saying the law makes it impossible, in some cases, for voter registration groups to meet that deadline.

Matthews: "Lenny Curry, you're the chair of the Republican Party down there. Was the intention to suppress the vote down there, as Judith says, or it had some other purpose? Why would you set a requirement you got to get your petitions in, in 48 hours? Why did you set such a requirement and a law?"

Curry: "No, there was no intention to suppress the vote."

Matthews: "Well, why would you make such a deadline, a two-day deadline to get the petitions in?"

Curry: "In my view, the deadline seemed reasonable. The judge struck that part of the law down. A majority of the law stands, which will create …"

Matthews: "Well, wait a minute. I'm going to call you there because everybody watching can figure this one out. If I'm working in front of a Safeway somewhere and I'm collecting registrations — I'm registering people who aren't registered — and it's Friday afternoon at 5 p.m., I can't even technically turn those in until Monday. That means it's already elapsed, the 48 hours.

"So, under the law, nothing I get done late Friday afternoon is of any value and probably some of the stuff early Saturday morning. The 48-hour rule basically makes it impossible to meet the deadline if you're working right to the end of the week, right, Lenny?"

Matthews was relentless about his point. But he is also incorrect.

We read the bill (HB 1355) that passed the Legislature in 2011 and was signed into law by Gov. Rick Scott.

The 158-page bill does indeed create a 48-hour deadline for voter groups to turn in completed registrations. But there's a caveat.

According to the law, a completed application "shall be promptly delivered to the division or the supervisor of elections within 48 hours after the applicant completes it or the next business day if the appropriate office is closed for that 48-hour period."

Put plainly, if someone is registering voters on a Friday evening — as Matthews said — he or she would have until Monday to turn in the completed forms. If Monday was a holiday, the deadline would be extended until Tuesday. And so on.

There's no doubt the deadlines were deterring groups from going out to register voters. After the law's passage, the League of Women Voters said it wouldn't conduct its usual voter registration drives because the requirements were too difficult to meet.

But Matthews said that Florida's 2011 voting law made it impossible for third-party groups to register voters on Friday afternoon, because a 48-hour deadline to turn in those applications would expire before the elections office opens Monday morning.

That's not correct. The law factored in weekends and holidays and gave voter registration groups until the next business day. We rate Matthews' claim False.

PolitiFact Florida is partnering with 10 News for the 2012 election. See video fact-checks at PolitiFact.com/Florida.

Comments
Trump defends tax plan, proclaims economy set ‘to rock’

Trump defends tax plan, proclaims economy set ‘to rock’

WASHINGTON — Closing in on the first major legislative achievement of his term, President Donald Trump on Saturday defended the Republican tax cut as a good deal for the middle class while boldly suggesting it could lead to explosive economic growth....
Updated: 3 hours ago
Romano: Some bullies survive beyond the schoolyard

Romano: Some bullies survive beyond the schoolyard

Sometime soon, members of the Florida House will be asked to consider a solution for bullying in public schools. It’s a dubious idea based on the premise that students should flee their tormenters, and use voucher funds to attend a private school of ...
Updated: 4 hours ago
CDC gets list of forbidden words: ‘fetus,’ ‘transgender,’ ‘evidence-based’

CDC gets list of forbidden words: ‘fetus,’ ‘transgender,’ ‘evidence-based’

Trump administration officials are forbidding officials at the nation’s top public health agency from using a list of seven words or phrases - including "fetus" and "transgender" - in any official documents being prepared for next year’s budget.Polic...
Updated: 12 hours ago
Female congressional candidate leaves race after sexual harassment allegations resurface

Female congressional candidate leaves race after sexual harassment allegations resurface

A Democratic candidate hoping to flip a hotly contested congressional seat in Kansas has dropped out of the race after allegations that she sexually harassed a male subordinate resurfaced amid her campaign.Andrea Ramsey, 57, who was running to unseat...
Published: 12/16/17
Highlights of GOP compromise bill to overhaul tax code

Highlights of GOP compromise bill to overhaul tax code

WASHINGTON — Republicans in Congress have blended separate tax bills passed by the House and Senate into compromise legislation that seeks to achieve a sweeping overhaul of the nation’s tax code. GOP leaders are looking toward passage of the final pa...
Published: 12/15/17
Updated: 12/16/17
With Rubio, Corker back on board, GOP speeds ahead with tax plan

With Rubio, Corker back on board, GOP speeds ahead with tax plan

WASHINGTON — Republican lawmakers on Friday secured enough votes to pass the most sweeping tax overhaul in decades, putting them on the cusp of their first significant legislative victory this year as party leaders geared up to pass a $1.5 trillion t...
Published: 12/15/17
Experts chart path for Hillsborough to grow smarter before sprawl takes over

Experts chart path for Hillsborough to grow smarter before sprawl takes over

TAMPA — Nearly 600,000 more people will live in Hillsborough County by 2040, and if elected officials and county planners don’t take bold steps now, the population boom will turn the county into the soulless sprawl of Anywhere, U.S.A.That’s the messa...
Published: 12/15/17
Tillerson retreats on offer of unconditional N. Korea talks

Tillerson retreats on offer of unconditional N. Korea talks

WASHINGTON — America’s top diplomat stepped back Friday from his offer of unconditional talks with North Korea, telling world powers that the nuclear-armed nation must earn the right to negotiate with the United States. Secretary of State Rex Tillers...
Published: 12/15/17
Judge signals release of ex-Trump chair Paul Manafort to Florida home under curfew and GPS monitoring

Judge signals release of ex-Trump chair Paul Manafort to Florida home under curfew and GPS monitoring

A federal judge Friday said a bail package has been put together that would release former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort from home confinement in his condominium in Virginia and allow him to reside at his house in Palm Beach Gardens, but unde...
Published: 12/15/17
The meta-soap opera of Omarosa Manigault’s White House exit

The meta-soap opera of Omarosa Manigault’s White House exit

WASHINGTON — As the spooling drama of Omarosa Manigault Newman’s White House departure spun into its 36th hour, Washington began asking itself: "Does it actually matter whether Omarosa quit or was fired?"Dumbest story ever," tweeted John Harwood, the...
Published: 12/15/17