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. Coming to Hulu in August: 'Bill & Ted's Excellent Adventure,' 'Saw' movies and more


    Hello, binge-worthy new additions to Hulu. Clue, Clueless and five Saw movies? You spoil us, Hulu.

    Alex Winter and Keanu Reeves in Bill & Ted's Excellent Adventure.
  2. Whitman: Hollywood whitewashing raises questions about Jesus' depiction


    I grew up believing in white Jesus.

    A painting on my grandma's wall depicted a blonde, blue-eyed Christ.

  3. Special sorority seeks ways to help their Green Berets and themselves during St. Leo summit


    ST. LEO — Julie Huynh-Rusk lies down on the floor of a St. Leo University conference room, covered by a blanket and a pink eye-pillow.

    Julie Huynh-Rusk, 31, of Seattle, takes advantage of a meditation session at Saint Leo University on Wednesday as part of the Steel Mags Summer Summit. 
The Steel Mags Sorority was founded to help spouses, daughters, mothers, and sisters of  Green Berets. [ALESSANDRA DA PRA  |   Times]

  4. Watch: Sarasota vlogger goes on viral rant against MTV's 'Siesta Key'


    Looking forward to MTV’s Siesta Key? Well, this Florida native definitely is not.

    Vlogger Louie Carey posted his reaction to MTV's "Siesta Key" in a viral video.
  5. On the Camino de Santiago, Day 23: Of tiny towns, wonderful naps and dreamlike ice cream bars


    Day 23: Murias de Rechivaldo to Foncebadon: 20.8 km, 6 hours. Total for Days 1-23 = 541 km (336 miles)