People For the American Way Foundation (PFAWF) today asked Florida election officials to reverse a decision to throw out thousands of otherwise valid voter registrations simply because applicants forgot to check a box indicating that they are U.S. citizens.
The New York Times and the Orlando Sentinel reported this weekend that Secretary of State Glenda Hood’s office issued the decision, which could affect more than 4,000 voters in Orange County alone. PFAWF President Ralph G Neas and General Counsel Elliot Mincberg wrote Hood and Elections Director Dawn Roberts today, asking them to overturn their instructions to county elections officials to deny the applications, and warning they would take legal action if the decision is not reversed.
“Simply by signing the form, these voters are saying that they are citizens. They deserve the right to vote,” said Neas. “They want to make a difference in this election, and this is their last chance.”
Today was the deadline for voter registrations in Florida, and any applications that arrive later will not be valid until next year’s elections. If Hood will not reverse the decision, PFAWF will argue in court that a signed form is a signed affirmation of citizenship, and that any signed and otherwise valid registration form should be accepted and the registration processed in time for the November election.
“Some counties have been processing the applications, and we urge them to continue,” said Mincberg. “They’re taking the application of the voter in good faith, and that’s the right thing to do.”
Neas said that Hood’s decision was another in a pattern of decisions from Florida officials that “result in the disenfranchisement of many Floridians. Such a result is unconscionable.”
“Our goal is to put as many people on the rolls as possible, not keep them away. We want to bring as many people to the voting booth as we can. That’s when democracy works best. I’m hopeful Secretary Hood will agree, and change her mind,” said Neas.