Voter Registration Effort Draws Controversy

With Election 2006 just six months away, Florida’s elected leaders have a major push underway to make it easier for folks to register to vote.

The Supervisors of Elections announced a partnership with Walgreen’s, and a bill awaiting the governor’s signature would also put voter registration forms in some hunting and fishing shops. But not everyone’s on board.

At Rivers Bait & Tackle, you can pick up just about anything you need for your outdoors experience except a fishing or hunting license.

Owner Johnny Rivers says he specifically does not sell the licenses because he doesn’t want to do the state’s business on his time. That’s the same reason he thinks a recently-passed bill requiring busy hunting and fishing shops to offer voter registration forms is a stupid idea.

“Let them do their job and register the voters in the state of Florida, don’t throw the responsibility for registering the voters in the state of Florida off on people who don’t need any more responsibility.”

Jeb Bush still has to decide whether to sign the hunter/fisher voter bill into law. But in the meantime, several other new places are popping up where you can register to vote.

Walgreen’s just announced a partnership with the state’s elections supervisors to offer voter registration forms to its shoppers. Secretary of State Sue Cobb says it’s all about making it easier for you to make your voice heard.

“We hope to ensure that this precious right to vote is available and understood by all of the citizens of the state of Florida.”

Walgreen’s is voluntarily participating in the get-out the vote effort, and Johnny Rivers says that’s fine. But the hunter/fisher voter bill would be a mandate, and he thinks businesses already have too many mandates.

The Florida Retail Federation joined the announcement of Walgreen’s participation in the state’s voter registration efforts. But spokesman Rick McAllister says the trade association is asking Jeb Bush to veto the hunter/fisher voter bill because it is not a voluntary program.