To the editor:
Some outrageous voter registration rules inflicted on Florida citizens by the current legislature have thankfully been blocked by a federal judge - but not before they did their damage, tilting what was a level playing field unfairly in favor of one side.
The ill-conceived law discouraged even highly respected nonpartisan groups such as the League of Women Voters from performing an essential function, registering voters of all stripes - lest the League face harsh penalties if they were unable to meet the petty deadline demands of the new law.
Still, for the period the law was in effect, our Legislature managed to shut out the registration of many voters, with a tilt that clearly favors the GOP - minimizing the number of people who might otherwise take part in democracy's most sacred duty.
Here are the numbers. According to a recent analysis in the Florida Times-Union, for a 13-month period before the 2004 election, about 159,000 new voters were registered as Democrats. For 2008, that figure was almost 260,000. But for the same period this year, after the anti-democratic (and anti-Democratic) law took effect, only about 11,000 Democratic voters were registered.
The numbers for Republicans, meanwhile, show no such damage: For 2004, the GOP figure was more than 111,000; for 2008, more than 95,000; and this year, 128,000.
No matter what you believe politically, I pray that as Americans, we all believe at least that as many citizens as possibly should vote in each and every election. If you're not registered, please do so now - the deadline is Oct. 9. You can find a voter registration form at leeelections.com (click on "Voter Reg." menu) or can call 239-533-VOTE (533-8683) for information.