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Vote myths are hard to kill in this election

TALLAHASSEE — Before you vote, remember: Don't believe everything you hear.

Widespread myths bouncing around the Internet claim Florida voters will be turned away at the polls for wearing candidate garb such as an Obama T-shirt or McCain cap, and that the address on a voter's driver's license must match the one on a voter registration card.

Neither is true.

Younger voters in particular are alarmed about the falsehoods. An e-mail distributed to students and employees from an employee in the financial aid office at Florida State University wrongly blamed Gov. Charlie Crist and said: "The Republicans are using every trick in the book to prevent change from taking place."

But it's not true. Secretary of State Kurt Browning's office sent clarifying letters to all 67 Florida election supervisors: "Merely going to the polls wearing campaign paraphernalia is okay," it said.

State elections chief Donald Palmer issued a memo on the address issue. "It does not matter what their ID says with respect to their address. … The voter must vote in the precinct where they live, regardless of whether that address is on their ID."

Neither memo was issued publicly at the time, but Browning's spokeswoman said the address issue was highlighted in an op-ed piece by Browning that ran in several major Florida newspapers, and that the state has sent the memos to many schoolteachers.

"We're doing everything we can," spokeswoman Jennifer Krell Davis said. "It won't die. It's the weirdest thing."

Leon County Supervisor of Elections Ion Sancho said sending those warnings to all of the media might have defused the false rumors faster.

"This is a statewide issue. Where's the statewide reaction?" Sancho asked.

Florida has a voter assistance hotline, 1-866-308-6739, to handle election law questions.

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

Vote myths are hard to kill in this election 10/01/08 [Last modified: Sunday, October 5, 2008 9:38am]
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