TALLAHASSEE — Seven weeks before Election Day, the watchdog group Common Cause warns that "serious problems" in Florida's election system could disenfranchise voters.
Common Cause and the policy research group the Century Foundation studied potential voting problems in 10 swing states, the largest of which is Florida.
Their study zeroes in on Florida's "no match, no vote" law, passed by the Legislature in 2005 and recently upheld by a federal judge. The law invalidates a voter registration in the state's automated system if a driver's license number or last four Social Security digits on the voting application do not match the numbers on other databases.
"Only one state — Florida — is persisting in using an exact match standard," said Tova Wang, author of the report. "They're taking extra steps that will result in many people having their voter registration applications rejected."
Secretary of State Kurt Browning, the state's top elections official, reacted with frustration to the report's criticism.
He said he has taken steps to make sure voters with defective paperwork can still vote. Those steps include an official notice from a county elections office, the ability to cast a provisional ballot in the election and a two-day grace period after the election to give verifying evidence.
"I stand by my decision to ensure that Florida has accurate voter registration rolls," Browning said. "I am not in the business of suppressing voters."
Referring to Common Cause and other advocacy groups that are critical of the "no match, no vote" law, he said, "These folks won't be happy until they keep everybody in total turmoil."
The full report can be viewed online at www.commoncause.org.
Steve Bousquet can be reached at [email protected]