A Notable Victory for Democracy Advocates Among Continuing Anti-Democracy Efforts by Republicans and the DoJ Around the Country
Court Decision May Ease Concerns Shared with BRAD BLOG by a Noted Sunshine State Election Official…
By Brad Friedman on 12/18/2007, 3:33pm PT  

More good news out of Florida, where a judge has tossed out an outrageous anti-voter law which, critics charge, could well have disenfranchised thousands of Sunshine State voters (again) just in time for the 2008 Presidential Election. We spoke just last week with Ion Sancho, Leon County (Tallahassee)'s legendary Supervisor of Elections, who expressed grave concerns about this very law, even as Republican's promise to appeal the judge's decision, and continue other anti-voter related efforts about the country.

According to the Miami Herald's breaking coverage this morning...

TALLAHASSEE --- A federal judge ordered state election officials to stop enforcing a 2-year-old voter registration law, ruling Tuesday that there is already proof that the change put in place by the GOP-controlled Florida Legislature has resulted in ``actual harm to real individuals.''

About 14,000 people have not been able to register because of Florida's ''no match'' law that requires a citizen's name on a voter registration form be matched with a Social Security number or driver's license number. The law has been challenged by the NAACP and other groups that say the law unfairly blocks blacks and Hispanics from being able to register to vote.
...
U.S. District Judge Stephan Mickle rejected arguments from the state that the law is needed to deter possible voter fraud, pointing out that the state has not been able to prove that the 14,000 voters now in limbo engaged in voter fraud. He said the requirements put in place by Florida lawmakers apper to conflict with federal voting rights laws.

''The disenfranchisement, however unintentional, causes damage to the election system that cannot be repaired after the election has passed,'' Mickle wrote in the order.

The article goes on to report that FL's appointed Republican Secretary of State, Kurt Browning, says the state will appeal the ruling, about which he says, "in my view the Legislature appropriately enacted this important anti-fraud provision as part of Florida's Election Code."

Browning's comments, unfortunately, come as little surprise for a number of disturbing reasons...

In an arguably related point, Browning, the former Pasco County, FL Supervisor of Elections, was one of the state's most ardent supporters of unverifiable, inaccurate, easily manipulated touch-screen voting machines, until forced by his new boss, Republican Gov. Charlie Crist, to support Crist's largely successful campaign to rid the state, once and for all, of such unreliable touch-screen voting systems.

For his part, Tallahassee's Sancho (one of the good guys, as seen in HBO's seminal documentary Hacking Democracy) told us last week that he was gravely concerned about the law which would have given anybody the right to challenge a voter's legitimacy, without recourse for the voter.

"We're gonna have problems in Florida. We've gonna have major problems next year" in regard to the law which was reversed today, and which Sancho told The BRAD BLOG he sees as part of a "continuing conspiracy to suppress 3% of the vote across the entire country" in next year's election.

Florida's law is one of several recently enacted by Republicans around the country making it harder to register legal voters to vote, and for registered voters to be able to cast their legal vote without obstacle on Election Day.

The Republican legislature in Ohio recently enacted a similar law to Florida's, while the DoJ's now-thankfully-former voting section chief, John Tanner, had recently upped the ante by sending notices to 10 different key states, threatening them with lawsuits if they did not carry out draconian and immediate purges of their voter registration databases.

More recently, the DoJ filed an amicus brief in the upcoming Supreme Court battle over draconian Photo ID restrictions at the polling place, meant largely --- in the absence of any notable evidence of voter fraud --- to keep Democratic-leaning voters from being able to cast a vote at all. Needless to say, by now, the Bush Administration's DoJ came out in favor of the Indiana law which will be coming before the high court in January.