Saturday, May 26, 2018
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
Carlton: Sometimes taxpayers pay for not doing the right thing

Carlton: Sometimes taxpayers pay for not doing the right thing

I may have cracked the code. Found a way to sell doing the right thing. Discovered a method of persuasion in certain matters of fairness, conscience and the greater good.Like giving our fellow Americans a second chance.When morality-based arguments d...
Published: 05/26/18
North Korea demolishes nuclear test site as journalists watch

North Korea demolishes nuclear test site as journalists watch

PUNGGYE-RI, North Korea — North Korean leader Kim Jong Un made good on his promise to demolish his country’s nuclear test site, which was formally closed in a series of huge explosions Thursday as a group of foreign journalists looked on. The explosi...
Published: 05/24/18
Trump violated the Constitution when he blocked his critics on Twitter, a federal judge rules

Trump violated the Constitution when he blocked his critics on Twitter, a federal judge rules

President Donald Trump’s decision to block his Twitter followers for their political views is a violation of the First Amendment, a federal judge ruled Wednesday, saying that Trump’s effort to silence his critics is not permissible under the U.S. Con...
Published: 05/23/18
All those city services that fuel Lightning fever? Team, not taxpayers, foot the bill

All those city services that fuel Lightning fever? Team, not taxpayers, foot the bill

TAMPA — All those public watch parties during the Tampa Bay Lightning’s postseason run? And how about the rally at Joe Chillura Courthouse Square Park with the big white Lightning logo spray-painted on the grass? You need police to prote...
Published: 05/23/18
Romano: A pathetic legacy for Florida’s all-or-nothing Democrats

Romano: A pathetic legacy for Florida’s all-or-nothing Democrats

Explain this to me: In the world of partisan politics, how is being an independent thinker a bad thing? When it comes to general elections, we seem to like rogues and mavericks. We want outsiders and swamp scrubbers. Folks appreciate a good finger-...
Published: 05/22/18
‘World’s most expensive Witch Hunt’: Trump lashes out at New York Times, Democrats

‘World’s most expensive Witch Hunt’: Trump lashes out at New York Times, Democrats

WASHINGTON - President Donald Trump lashed out Sunday at "the World’s most expensive Witch Hunt," trashing a new report in the New York Times that said an emissary representing the governments of Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates offered help...
Published: 05/20/18
Obama’s education secretary: Let’s boycott school until gun laws change

Obama’s education secretary: Let’s boycott school until gun laws change

Former Education Secretary Arne Duncan pushed a radical idea on Twitter: Parents should pull their children out of school until elected officials pass stricter gun control laws.His tweet came hours after a shooting rampage at a Houston-area high scho...
Published: 05/20/18
China offers to buy more US products to reduce trade imbalance

China offers to buy more US products to reduce trade imbalance

WASHINGTON - China offered to boost its annual purchases of U.S. products by "at least $200 billion" Friday as two days of talks aimed at averting an open breach between the two countries ended in Washington, a top White House adviser said.Larry Kudl...
Published: 05/19/18
Hillsborough candidate falsified contract for fund-raising gospel concert, lawsuit says

Hillsborough candidate falsified contract for fund-raising gospel concert, lawsuit says

TAMPA — A concert organizer is accusing Hillsborough County Commission candidate Elvis Piggott of falsifying a contract and prompting the headline act to pull out of a gospel show.In a lawsuit filed in Hillsborough Circuit Court, Corey Curry claims h...
Published: 05/18/18
Gina Haspel confirmed as CIA chief despite scrutiny of her role in interrogation program

Gina Haspel confirmed as CIA chief despite scrutiny of her role in interrogation program

WASHINGTON - The Senate voted Thursday to confirm Gina Haspel as the next CIA director after several Democrats were persuaded to support her despite lingering concerns about her role in the brutal interrogation of suspected terrorists captured after ...
Published: 05/17/18