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Florida: NAACP and Haitian group sue over "no-match, no-vote" policies

Press release: Today voting rights advocates filed suit in a US District Court to strike down a statewide election law that could disenfranchise tens of thousands of eligible citizens from registering and voting in the 2008 elections.

The law bars any Florida citizen from registering to vote if the state cannot match or otherwise validate the driver’s license or Social Security number on a registration form, an error-laden practice struck down in 2006 by a federal judge in Washington State. Plaintiffs bringing today’s suit, including the Florida branch of the NAACP and the Haitian-American Grassroots Coalition, contend that this matching law unduly delayed or denied registrations for thousands of Florida voters in 2006, and will jeopardize many more voters in 2008 if not blocked.

Florida and a handful of other states refuse to place eligible citizens on the rolls unless they clear a series of extra bureaucratic hurdles largely dependent on “matching” registration information on a new statewide voter list with information in the state motor vehicle or Social Security systems. Common database errors, however, make “matching” unreliable, jeopardizing the status of up to 30% of new voters. A 2006 study by the Brennan Center for Justice, one of the voting rights groups that brought today’s suit, found that such a procedure misinterpreted the federal Help America Vote Act (HAVA), which told states to create the statewide lists.

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