Federal Judge Rules Against Democrats in Florida Voter ID Verification Case

early voting Florida AP PhotoLynne Sladky
AP/Lynne Sladky

A federal judge Thursday ruled against a Democratic initiative in Florida that sought to allow individuals to take advantage of early voting even if their registration eligibility is not yet verified.

United States District Judge Mark Walker ruled against this so-called rapid verification process, preventing it from taking place during early voting in Florida, which starts Monday in several key counties.

After the three-hour hearing, Judge Walker sided with Florida Governor Rick Scott’s Secretary of State Ken Detzner against the Democratic party’s request.

During the hearing, Hillsborough County top voting official Craig Latimer’s testimony was cited by Walker. According to the Tampa Bay Times, Latimer testified by phone, saying, “If a voter whose identity can’t be confirmed is allowed to cast a regular ballot, it wouldn’t be legal and it couldn’t be corrected. You’re not going to get that ballot back and that could lead to some real issues.”

Walker also highlighted Maria Matthews‘ testimony, the director of the state’s Division of Elections. Matthews testified that “State workers are being ordered to work ‘mandatory overtime’ of up to 16 hours on weekends to process forms as fast as possible.” Matthews went on to emphasize,”We are devoting all the resources that we have.”

On Tuesday, the Florida Democratic Party had filed a motion to allow anyone to show up at a polling place with an ID and vote, even if they are not on the state’s official voter rolls. This motion came on the heels of an unprecedented number of new voter sign-ups in the state, after the voter registration deadline was extended due to the impact that Hurricane Matthew had on Floridians’ ability to register during the final days of the original voter registration period.

Judge Walker decided that there was “absolutely no basis” to the Democratic Party’s claim that Detzner and election officials were “dragging their feet” when it came to processing new voter registrations.

Gary Fineout, an Associated Press reporter, was live tweeting from the courtroom as Walker’s ruling came down:


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