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12,165 now on Florida's 'no match' vote list

TALLAHASSEE — More than 2,000 new Tampa Bay voters are on the state's "no match" list of unverified identities, and their votes in next week's election may not count as a result.

Those people, part of more than 12,000 statewide, must cast provisional ballots unless they can quickly resolve discrepancies between their completed voter registration forms and driver license or Social Security numbers in government databases.

The election is Nov. 4, one week from today.

The state released a new and larger "no match" list Monday of 12,165 names, compared with 8,867 on an earlier list released Oct. 16.

The new list includes unverified names from the previous list, and is again disproportionately made up of African-Americans, Hispanics, Democrats and residents of South Florida.

African-Americans and Hispanics combined account for 55 percent of would-be voters on the latest list, which includes 6,194 Democrats and 1,440 Republicans.

The new list reflects unverified new voters from Sept. 8 through Oct. 18, the last day county election supervisors could process registration forms.

Hillsborough County's list of unmatched voters has spiked to 1,452, while another 501 are in Pinellas. Pasco has 49 and Hernando has 40.

Miami-Dade is the county with by far the most unverified voters at 2,944, and Broward is second with 1,602.

Pinellas Supervisor of Elections Deborah Clark said her employees are trying to rectify mismatched voter information by calling people at night and on weekends and sending them up to three letters.

A showing of "no match" voters on Election Day will make things run more slowly.

"We don't want to have them in pending status when they show up to vote," Clark said.

Clark said some people did not list a phone number on their forms, and some who did gave an invalid number.

The list includes 135 people named Rodriguez, 90 people named Jones, 67 named Jackson and 60 named Martinez. There are 13 Smiths in Hillsborough alone.

Florida has 11.2-million voters, of whom 438,000 have registered to vote since Sept. 8 when Secretary of State Kurt Browning decided to enforce the "no match" law.

Under unrelenting criticism by the law's critics, Browning has said the "no match" law is necessary to ensure the integrity of the voter rolls. His office notes that the list of unverified voters is less than 2.7 percent of all new voters in the state.

But watchdog groups say the figure is still too high, considering that the list covers about a five-week period.

"The law places an unacceptable burden on thousands of voters," said attorney Adam Skaggs of the Brennan Center for Justice at New York University, which sued but did not succeed in striking down the law.

He referred to the people on the "no match" list as "placebo voters."

Skaggs said those facing a hard time proving their identity are those without Florida drivers' licenses. The only other acceptable evidence is a state-issued ID or Social Security card, and Skaggs said some people carry neither.

He said a number of newly enrolled Alachua County voters who are University of Florida students are on the "no match" list.

"They can vote a provisional ballot, but it won't be counted," Skaggs said.

12,165 now on Florida's 'no match' vote list 10/27/08 [Last modified: Thursday, October 30, 2008 3:06pm]
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