There have been many misstatements and confusion over the recent implementation of the Voter Verification law otherwise known as the "no match-no vote" law.
The Division of Elections' mission, along with local supervisors of elections, is to register voters and make sure that they can cast a ballot on Election Day that will be counted. And just to clarify, this law will not affect the status of the 10.7-million already registered voters. The law will apply to all new applications received on or after Sept. 8, 2008.
The Voter Verification law regarding new voter registration applications became effective January 2006. It was in effect until December 2007, when a court first ordered the department to stop the almost 2-year-old process. That ruling was overturned on appeal. The law was reimplemented Sept. 8, 2008.
The law is being implemented now because the court order denying the injunction became final in July. The implementation was delayed by litigation until June 2008; waiting for U.S. Justice Department preclearance in July 2008; time needed to reprogram the system to automatically notice voters and set up revised procedures; and the time needed to prepare supervisors.
Unlike what activists are saying, obvious errors, including nicknames or typos, will be resolved and that applicant will be registered to vote. Every voter registration applicant must provide (if issued) a Florida driver's license number, state identification card number or the last four digits of his or her Social Security number.
The identification number is automatically checked against the Florida driver's license database or the Social Security Administration database. If the number doesn't match, the Bureau of Voter Registration Services manually reviews for identifiable typographical errors or a difference between a nickname and formal name based on available records and the actual voter registration application.
If the number still cannot be matched, the applicant is notified to provide a photocopy of her identification by mail, fax or e-mail; or the applicant may show her identification in person. If proof is provided before the election, the applicant becomes registered and the person is able to vote a regular ballot. If proof is not provided before the election, the person may vote a provisional ballot. The person may provide proof up until 5 p.m. of the second day after the election for the ballot to be counted.
This law does not keep any person with an unverified number from being able to vote. This law is about verifying identity at the time of registration, so that when the voter goes to the polls he or she can vote a regular ballot, not a provisional ballot.
A voter can show a driver's license, a Florida identification card, a passport, a debit or credit card, military identification, student identification, retirement center identification, neighborhood association identification or public assistance identification on Election Day.
This law does not target specific groups. The Justice Department reviewed the law in 2005, and after revisions to the law in 2007 and 2008, found that the law did not deny or abridge the right to vote on account of race, color or membership in a language minority group.
Identification required and checked at the polls is used solely to confirm the voter's identity, not to verify the voter's ID number or address. The photo on the ID is compared to the person standing before the poll worker and the signature on the ID is compared to the signature on record.
The courts have held that the Voter Verification law is valid because the state has a "compelling" interest to have accurate voter rolls. And despite what others have said, the state provided examples of fraudulent applications that had come through the system because the law had been temporarily stopped.
This is a good law that will help our voter rolls achieve more accuracy and less fraud, while creating minimal inconvenience for prospective voters. We encourage you to register now, review your application before submission, and call your local supervisor if you have any questions. See you on Nov. 4 — Election Day.
Kurt Browning is Florida's secretary of state.