Fla. Court: No Voting in Wrong Precincts

People who cast a provisional ballot at the wrong precinct aren't entitled to have their votes counted, the state Supreme Court unanimously ruled Monday, rejecting an argument by labor unions that the rule wrongly disenfranchises voters.

The court said that the law clearly states that provisional ballots must be counted only if the person was entitled to vote "at the precinct," and that the constitution gives the Legislature the authority to dictate voting rules.

Under Florida law, if voters show up at a polling place but officials there have no record they are registered, they are given provisional ballots. Those ballots are then held until officials determine if the persons were entitled to vote at that precinct and hadn't already voted.

If they should have been allowed to vote at that precinct, the ballots count; if not, they are thrown out.

But a group of labor unions sued over the ballot law, saying that it unconstitutionally disenfranchised voters who may not know their polling place. They argued that many people have new polling places because of redistricting, may have moved, or may have been displaced by a hurricane.

The court disagreed, saying that requiring provisional voters vote at the correct precinct is no more unreasonable than requiring that everyone else vote at the right polling place.