In a victory for Florida voters, Circuit Court Judge Nikki Clark ruled today that the list of 47,000 "potential felon matches" who the state claims may be purged from the voter polls must be made available to the public. This is a huge step forward in heading off potentially massive voter disenfranchisement the likes of which occurred in 2000.
"This is great news for democracy and for the state of Florida," said Ralph G. Neas, president of People For the American Way Foundation. "We encourage the state to accept Judge Clark's order, forgo an appeal, and make the list public immediately. An appeal will only delay justice for voters who have been wrongly placed on the list."
Neas added that the process of determining the legal status of individuals on the list is a long and difficult process, and the sooner the list is made public, the sooner the county election officials and civil rights groups will be able to act. "The counties should independently verify the list so that voters wrongly placed on the list are not be purged at all, and those who have recently received clemency should be informed of the need to register again to vote," added Neas.
People For the American Way Foundation has been working with Tallahassee City Commissioner Andrew Gillum to assess the list for Leon County, where they have discovered at least one voter whose name should not have been on the purge list. The Election Protection hotline, 1-866-OUR VOTE, is available to assist voters who find their names wrongfully on the list and want to make sure they have the right to vote, Neas said.
"There's a primary election coming up in just two months in Florida, and of course, the general election in November. We want to help every voter in Florida cast a vote that counts this election year," said Neas. "I hope any voters in Florida who feel their rights are at risk will call our hotline.
Individuals whose names wrongfully appear on the voter purge list can call the Election Protection toll free hotline at 1-866-OUR VOTE. Election Protection 2004 is the nation's most far-reaching program to protect voter rights from now through Election Day and beyond. The nonpartisan voter information, advocacy and protection program is carried out by a coalition of nonprofit organizations dedicated to ensuring that every citizen has the opportunity to cast a vote that will be counted on Election Day.