Saturday, October 02, 2004

Gaffs Could Prevent Voting in Florida

Saturday, October 02, 2004

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. — Florida officials say thousands of Floridians who think they're registered to vote could be turned away at the polls November second because their voter registration forms weren't completely filled out.

Secretary of State Glenda Hood says some groups registering voters are turning in application forms with information missing, such as unchecked boxes asking whether applicants are citizens, mentally incompetent or felons.

A group that's been seeking copies of the incomplete applications in an effort to help people complete them said Hood's office — citing state law — has begun blocking them.

Hood recommends that people who were registered by a group instead of at their county elections office check to make sure they are actually registered.

The dispute has resulted in at least one legal challenge.

If you have recently filled out a voter registration form, check with your local Supervisor of Elections to see if you are able to vote. If there is a problem, you have a chance to get it corrected now. Election day is not the time to worry about it. If there is a problem with my registration, I want to change it, not someone else.

Something smells fishy to me. If the only missing information relates to citizenship, mental competency or whether the registrant is a felon whose rights have not been restored, it sounds to me like some group or groups are trying to get people who are not eligible to vote registered. This could have one of two reasons behind it.

1. Getting more people to vote for a specific candidate. If their votes are not disputed, the candidate could win.

2. If the candidate loses, Florida will be in for another post election cycle of people screaming that they were disenfranchised, refused their right to vote and so on. We'll be in for six to eight weeks of re-counts just like what happened in 2000.

In either case, our voting process is the loser. The first shows that those who are for one reason or another ineligible to vote circumvented the system.

I don't want people who are not citizens to vote in our elections. I don't care if they are here legally or not. I don't care if they pay taxes or not. I don't care if they own property or not. They are not American citizens.

I don't want people who are not mentally capable of understanding what they are voting for to vote. There is too much possibility of someone influencing them or telling them how to vote. Each person has to be informed enough to make their own decision. My own father needed help the last time he voted to read the ballot. I went with him and read the ballot to him and helped him mark the ballot as he wanted. His votes did not agree with mine, but did I say anything, or "help" him vote? Not on your life. His eyesight was poor, but his mind was sharp enough that I knew he knew what he wanted. He wouldn't have known if I had "helped" him vote my way. But I would have. I tend to trust people, but I don't trust people well enough to believe that everyone is as honest as I was.

I don't want people who have not had their civil rights restored to vote. Sorry folks. It's part of what goes with being a convicted felon. Once their rights are restored, they should register, mark the appropriate box and if necessary prove to the elections personnel that their rights have been restored. Then vote.

By the way, after all the smoke cleared, there was no proof that anyone in Florida, who was legally registered to vote, was disenfranchised or refused the ability to vote on 2000. Some minority groups are still trying to beat that drum. They can beat it as loud as they want. Saying it don't make it true.

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