Friday, October 17, 2008

Disenfranchising Likely Obama Voters Heats Up in Florida

Florida's late-enacted "No Match, No Vote" law is controversial because it puts all of the burden of an absolute match between voter registration cards and state records on the voter. It does not compensate for typos or data problems.

And on top of that, the majority of registrations disqualified under the law in Orange County (FL) were those of Democrats, Hispanics, and college students:
Newly released records obtained by the Orlando Sentinel show that areas around the University of Central Florida and Rollins College are where the most voter registrations were rejected. Many had predicted that locally, minority precincts with strong voter drives would face the greatest registration problems. In fact, registration applications from college areas are being kicked out because of mismatched IDs under Florida's controversial "No match, no vote" measure. The law, which took effect Sept.8, calls for drivers-license and Social Security numbers to match those in government databases.

Not only is students' handwriting "horrible," said Orange County Supervisor of Elections administrator Margaret Dunn, the office also has a more difficult time matching IDs when applicants have out-of-state drivers licenses and officials have to rely on matching Social Security numbers instead ....

Though 46 percent of the 846 rejected Orange County residents were Democrats, only 9 percent were Republicans, and the rest generally had no party affiliation. Those numbers generally reflect statewide data obtained by the Orlando Sentinel on Thursday showing 8,867 would-be voters whose registrations remained unresolved.

In addition, more than a third rejected in Orange County were Hispanic, which is double the proportion of Hispanic residents.

"The major problem is the name confusion because so many Hispanics use hyphenated names because that's their culture," said longtime Orange County resident Patti Sharp, operations and finance director for Democracia USA. Elections officials agreed with that assessment.

Few whites were rejected ....

The Division of Elections has received more than 376,000 voter registrations since Sept. 8 — 56,807 of those were initially flagged for ID mismatches, and 13,339 went to county election supervisors to resolve.

Just as in Orange County, rejected voters statewide were also disproportionately minorities. Slightly more than 27 percent were listed as Hispanic, and 26.8 percent of those rejected were black.

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