Make us your home page

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Fla. teacher may be fined under new election law

TALLAHASSEE — A Florida Panhandle teacher who registered students to vote but turned in their applications late may be fined for violating the state's new election law, which has drawn fire from critics who say it will suppress voting.

Secretary of State Kurt Browning asked Attorney General Pam Bondi to investigate and seek applicable fines in a letter Thursday.

Browning wrote that election officials in Santa Rosa County have documented 76 registration applications collected by the teacher that appear to have violated the law that went into effect this year.

It requires third parties to turn in applications to the county Supervisor of Elections Office within 48 hours of being collected. The old law had a 10-day deadline.

Each violation can result in a $50 fine, but no single individual or organization can be fined more than $1,000 in a year.

The letter says the unnamed Pace High School teacher has a history of violations.

"The circumstances of this case greatly concern me," Browning wrote.

He noted that the teacher reportedly said applications collected in April 2009 were not turned in until five months later because they were in her file cabinet over the summer break.

In 2008, one of her students was turned away from a polling place because she had not submitted his application before the registration books closed for that election, Browning wrote.

He added that the teacher registered with the state as a third-party voter registration organization in 2009 under the old law, which demonstrated an awareness of the law. Her registration, though, was canceled in August because she had not reregistered as required by the new law, he said.

Santa Rosa County superintendent Tim Wyrosdick did not return messages seeking comment that were left on his cell and home phone Friday night.

Browning spokesman Chris Cate said a teacher in New Smyrna Beach who also is suspected of violating the law likely will get only a warning because she has no prior violations.

As a result of that case's publicity, Democratic U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson urged Gov. Rick Scott in a letter to seek repeal or modification of the law.

"After this incident with the teacher, can anyone actually say we aren't taking a step backward in Florida when it comes to protecting one of our most fundamental rights?" Nelson wrote.

Cate said that teacher, Jill Cicciarelli, would have been in violation even of the previous 10-day requirement because she had let more than a month pass before turning in applications.

He noted that the fines were not changed by the new law.

More than two-dozen individuals and organizations have intervened in a federal court case opposing approval of four sections of the law, including the voter registration provision. They contend the law discriminates against minorities, students and the elderly.

Fla. teacher may be fined under new election law 10/29/11 [Last modified: Saturday, October 29, 2011 9:41pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

Copyright: For copyright information, please check with the distributor of this item, Associated Press.

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. What to watch this week: 'Still Star-Crossed' on ABC, 'House of Cards' Season 5



    Robin Wright and Kevin Spacey in House of Cards Season 5.
  2. Trump hails the fallen and their families at Arlington


    ARLINGTON, Va. — President Donald Trump expressed his nation's "boundless and undying" gratitude Monday to Americans who have fallen in battle and to the families they left behind, hailing as heroes the hundreds of thousands buried at Arlington National Cemetery.

    President Donald Trump participates in a wreath-laying ceremony at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier at Arlington National Cemetery on Memorial Day, May 29, 2017 in Arlington, Virginia. [Photo by Olivier Douliery - Pool/Getty Images]
  3. Tiger Woods arrested in Florida on DUI charge, released

    Public Safety

    Tiger Woods was arrested early Monday on a DUI charge in Jupiter, Florida, and spent nearly four hours in a county jail before he was released.

    Tiger Woods has been arrested on a DUI charge in Florida.
  4. Review: The Underwoods bring the political terror in 'House of Cards' Season 5


    The ruthless Frank and Claire Underwood are back, continuing their own form of terror inside and outside of the White House.

    Kevin Spacey and Robin Wright in House of Cards Season 5 on Netflix.
  5. French president attacks Russian media outlets; Putin says Moscow didn't try to influence French election


    VERSAILLES, France — UPDATE, 11:57 A.M.: French President Emmanuel Macron has made an extraordinary attack on two Russian media outlets, saying they acted as "propaganda" organs during France's election campaign.

    French President Emmanuel Macron, right, speaks to Russian President Vladimir Putin in the Galerie des Batailles (Gallery of Battles) at the Versailles Palace as they arrive for a joint press conference following their meeting in Versailles, near Paris, France, Monday. [Stephane de Sakutin/Pool Photo via AP]