Florida Department of State
Kurt S. Browning
Secretary of State
For Immediate Release
July 28, 2008
Court Decision Upholding Florida’s Voter Verification Law Final
A federal court decision refusing to block implementation of Florida’s “matching” law became final as the deadline for an appeal passed last week. The decision represents an important victory for all Florida voters and for the integrity and accuracy of Florida’s improved election process.
The lawsuit -- brought in Gainesville in September 2007 -- challenged a Florida law designed to verify the identity of voter registration applicants. The law requires applicants to provide their driver’s license number or the last four digits of their social security number with their applications. Election officials then verify the number through state and federal databases, and, if the number is not verified, the applicants are contacted by the Supervisors for additional information. This safeguard protects the right to register and vote to legitimate applicants and secures Florida’s voter rolls -- and the ballot box -- from fraudulent registration practices.
On June 24, 2008, the District Court Judge Stephan P. Mickle entered an order upholding the law, finding that the law “enhances the accuracy of Florida’s voter registration rolls and contributes to securing to lawful voters the exercise of the rights to which registration gives admittance.” The law, he continued, “decreases the likelihood that individuals who are not eligible to register will improperly exercise the rights secured to lawful voters and dilute valid and legitimate votes.” In affirming its constitutionality, the Court concluded that the challenged law “is justified by the state’s compelling interest in fair and honest elections.”
Earlier in the case, the Court had enjoined the enforcement of the law, but that injunction was overturned by the Federal Appeals Court in Atlanta.
The Court’s latest opinion clears the way for the reimplementation of this vital anti-fraud component of Florida’s recent election reforms. Secretary of State Kurt S. Browning praised both the Legislature and the Court’s decision, stating, “This law makes Florida a leader in preventing voter registration fraud so that every legitimate vote is fairly counted.”
Browning announced that the new law and operating procedures would be implemented over the next few weeks, together with Florida’s 67 Supervisors of Elections, in a manner that does not interfere with the upcoming primary and general election.