Tallahassee, Florida – In the wake of the resignation of the Florida state director of Elections, Ed Kast, People For the American Way Foundation (PFAWF) called for renewed efforts to restore voters wrongly purged from the voting rolls in 1999 and 2000, and called on Florida Secretary of State Glenda Hood to delay implementation of a new purge list for the 2004 elections.
“When the key election official for the state resigns with just five months to go, it’s a sign of serious disarray and instability,” said Sharon Lettman, PFAWF’s state director for the Election Protection voter education and advocacy program. “Just when county supervisors are looking for clear leadership, here comes another curve ball. We call on the Secretary of State to withdraw her demand for immediate implementation of the new voter purge list, and to make the restoration of voters’ rights the state’s highest priority.”
People For the American Way Foundation has offered to help county supervisors contact people on the 2004 list who are at risk of being wrongfully purged, but the state has instructed supervisors not to release the lists. PFAWF has also protested the Secretary of State’s instruction to county supervisors to develop a quick, “required” implementation plan for the new 2004 list, when thousands of voters wrongfully purged in the infamous 2000 election have not been restored to the rolls.
The county election supervisors are meeting this week in Key West at their annual convention, discussing the purge problem and other issues surrounding the 2004 election. PFAWF called on Hood today to take four key steps:
- Reverse the state’s priorities to make restoration of voters wrongfully disenfranchised in 1999 and 2000 the top priority for the next director of elections, Dawn Roberts.
- Put a hold on implementation of the 2004 list unless and until county supervisors are given clear instructions for implementation that does not place the burden of proof on the voters.
- Refrain from sending letters to voters on the purge list until an independent investigation and verification of their status can be made.
- Provide county supervisors with funding and other resources they need to put disenfranchised voters from 2000 back on the rolls, and to conduct independent inquiries before removing voters from the 2004 rolls.
“The state should be doing all it can to put voters back on the rolls, not take more off. And the county supervisors deserve clear instructions and resources so that the massive disenfranchisement of 2000 is not repeated in 2004,” said Lettman.
With offices in Miami and Tallahassee, People For the American Way Foundation is part of a coalition of nonprofit, nonpartisan organizations operating the “Election Protection” program in Florida and other states to educate voters about their voting rights; to provide legal assistance and advice to voters who encounter difficulties in registering to vote and gaining access to polling places; to guard against instances of voter suppression and intimidation; and to help resolve problems before election day.