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Some Florida Election Supervisors stand up to No-Match law

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Florida's first caging; the aim (perhaps) of McCain's misleading mailers; and other voter suppresion updates from FL

Just as Florida Gov. Charlie Crist declares a voting emergency and extends early voting hours because of record turnout and widespread machine malfunctions, a hodge-podge of election suppression activity has been brewing for the past week in Florida.

Chief among them are voters, such as Marilyn Fielding featured in this Naples Daily News story, who was forced to cast a provisional ballot because she applied for an absentee ballot in Connecticut, even though the voter says she never made such a request.

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Could this be the aim of the misleading McCain mailers sent out in September across the country and Florida?

"We are receiving many, many reports from poll watchers that provisional ballots are given out much too often to our voters in Lee County," said Nancy Troy, a Democratic Party activist. "The poll watchers in Lee County are telling us it's hard to keep up with all of them."

Other issues include a vigilante sheriff candidate who marks the first story of GOP caging in the state; a dispute over amending registration records at the polls; and blocked (temporarily) federal poll watchers.

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In Glades County, it's sheriff candidate Robert Wilson who broke the ice for the GOP caging effort. But Wilson says he took it upon himself to crunch voter registration records against things such as home foreclosures to form the basis for a challenge. As the Miami Herald notes today, the list is almost all Democrats, "save a dead Republican or two."

The dispute over provisional balloting pertains to a legal opinion in a letter by the lead attorney for the Florida Association of Supervisors of Elections. In a letter last week Robert Labasky basically told every election supervisor in the state to ignore Florida Secretary of State Kurt Browning's directions for how to handle new voters unverified due to the state's controversial "no-match" law.

Labasky said election supervisors could allow voters to amend their registration records at the polls. This just in: Broward County announced it will follow Labasky's advice.

Browning said voters have to cast a provisional ballot regardless what they could show an election judge at the polls, forcing voters to return to an election office within 48 hours. He even threatened legal action against the election supervisor in Pinellas County who wanted to actually (bless her heart) make voting easier. The opinion by Labasky did, however, give discretion to election supervisors if they chose to follow Browning's advise.

More than 12,000 voter registrations were "unverified," according to the St. Pete Times today. The matches are done against the Social Security Administration database, which has an acknowledged error rating of 28.5 percent.

Last week Browning showed a soft side in another matter when he came around and decided to "encourage" four county election supervisors to allow a team of federal observers at polling sites.

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Independent freelance journalist with more than 10 years of experience writing for newspapers

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Some Florida Election Supervisors stand up to No-Match law