Make us your home page
Instagram

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

New voter registration law snares mostly minorities

TALLAHASSEE — Hispanics and blacks account for more than half of the people in Florida whose voter registration forms were rejected in recent weeks under the state's controversial new voter verification law.

Democrats were four times as likely to be tripped up by the law as Republicans, and more than half of the people affected are 30 years old or younger. One of every four unmatched voters lives in Miami-Dade, the state's largest county and the one with the largest Hispanic population.

Between Sept. 8, when the law took effect, and Oct. 10, a total of 8,867 people were placed in a separate database, their voting status in limbo for the moment, according to state records released Thursday.

They are a subset of the 376,450 new registrations submitted statewide since Sept. 8.

Of the rejected registrations, 2,403, or 27 percent, said they were Hispanic; 2,382, or 27 percent, identified themselves as African-American; and 1,727 listed their race as white.

A total of 1,902 did not disclose their race.

Nearly half, 4,383, were Democrats, while 1,136 were Republicans. Most of the rest identified with no party.

The state released the database to news organizations and advocacy groups that sought it under Florida's public records laws.

The law, labeled as "no match, no vote" by its critics, was enacted by the Legislature three years ago, suspended during a lengthy lawsuit and implemented Sept. 8 after a federal judge upheld the law.

The law requires that new voters provide a driver's license number or the last four digits of a Social Security number on a registration form, which is cross-checked against government databases. If the numbers or the name doesn't match, the voter is placed in limbo while county elections supervisors resolve the discrepancies.

The racial and ethnic composition of the first "no match" list came as no surprise to a lawyer who was involved in the challenge, a case known as Florida NAACP vs. Browning.

"Just as when the law was initially enforced, it has a wildly disproportional effect on black and Latino voters," said Adam Skaggs of the Brennan Center for Justice at the New York University School of Law, which represented black and Haitian political groups in an unsuccessful lawsuit to strike down the law. "This is no surprise."

Advocates say black and Hispanic voters experience higher error rates because they use hyphenated surnames or first names with nontraditional spellings.

Skaggs said there's no reason to conclude that the law targets people according to party affiliation, other than the possibility that blacks and Hispanics are more likely to register as Democrats.

Elections officials expect about 70 percent of the discrepancies will be resolved before next month's election because they are the result of clerical or typographical errors, or conflicts with names.

Secretary of State Kurt Browning told the governor and Cabinet on Tuesday that the law is necessary to maintain the integrity of the state's voter file. At the same time, he said, it is his agency's policy "to err on the side of the voter."

Steve Bousquet can be reached at bousquet@sptimes.com or (850) 224-7263.

New voter registration law snares mostly minorities 10/16/08 [Last modified: Monday, October 20, 2008 4:45pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Pinellas deputies go door-to-door before dawn to arrest unlicensed contractors

    Crime

    Pinellas County deputies have never conducted a widespread operation to arrest suspects who use hammers, saws and promises of majestic craftsmanship to swindle homeowners out of thousands of dollars.

    That changed Tuesday.

    Pinellas Sheriff deputies J. Short, left, and T. Festa, right, arrest suspect Randy Ronchi, center, in Largo early Tuesday, as part of a joint roundup of unlicensed contractors. [SCOTT KEELER | Times]
  2. New Florida driver's licenses available in Tampa Bay

    State Roundup

    The new Florida IDs are beginning to roll out across the state, with some locations in Tampa Bay already carrying the cards.

    The Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles announced it will begin to issue the new Florida driver license and ID card this month in various locations across the state. [Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles]
  3. Come on down, former 'Price Is Right' announcer Rich Fields; you're the new afternoon DJ on Q105

    Blogs

    There's a new afternoon drive host on classic hits radio station WRBQ-FM, better known as "Q105."

  4. From the food editor: Five things I'm enjoying in the food world right now

    Cooking

    Sometimes your notebook is scribbled with little thoughts here and there, things you come across in the food world and want to share but aren't sure how or when. Well, folks, I need to get some of this off my chest. Here is a somewhat random collection of culinary things I am really enjoying right now:

    Espresso Sea Salt Cookie Sandwiches with a cooked buttercream frosting, from St. Petersburg home bakery Wandering Whisk Bakeshop. Photo by Jennifer Jacobs.
  5. In Syria's Raqqa, IS makes last stand at city's stadium

    World

    BEIRUT — U.S.-backed, Kurdish-led forces battling the Islamic State group in Syria captured the city hospital in Raqqa on Tuesday, leaving IS militants holed up at the local stadium, their last stand in the fight over what was once the extremists' de facto capital.

    This frame grab from video released Sunday, Oct. 15, 2017 and provided by Furat FM, a Syrian Kurdish activist-run media group, shows Syrian Islamic State group fighters who surrendered entering a base of the U.S.-backed Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), in Raqqa, Syria. A spokesman for the SDF in Syria says it will be in control of the northern city of Raqqa "within a few days" after attacking the last pocket held by the Islamic State group. SDF fighters launched an operation to retake the last IS-held pocket of Raqqa after some 275 militants and their family members surrendered. [Furat FM via AP]