Gov. Rick Scott yesterday announced his appointment of Kurt Browning as Florida’s secretary of state, a position filled by Browning from 2006 till April 2010. After resigning, Browning led Protect Your Vote, a political committee largely bankrolled by the Republican Party of Florida that sought to defeat Florida’s so-called “Fair Districts” amendments.
The Florida Independent’s Bianca Fortis investigated Browning’s tenure as secretary of state last year:
[Browning] came under fire in 2008 when he enforced Florida’s Voter Registration Verification Law — which was nicknamed “No Match, No Vote.” The law, first approved by the Florida legislature in 2005, requires new voters to submit an identifying number, usually a driver’s license number or the last four digits of a Social Security number, so the state can confirm an applicant’s identity.
If a match could not be found, the applicant was considered ineligible to vote.
The state was releasing lists of unmatched names as late as a week before the Nov. 4, 2008 election. ”African-Americans and Hispanics combined account for 55 percent of would-be voters on the latest list [released Oct. 28, 2008], which includes 6,194 Democrats and 1,440 Republicans,” reported the Times. The law is still in effect today.
In April 2010, Browning resigned to avoid violating the legislature’s new “double-dipping” rules, which
“narrowed a loophole that allowed highly paid state workers to retire and return to their old jobs and draw two salaries,” in the words of the St. Pete Times. The law forced Browning to retire before it took effect on July 1, 2010 — denying him a chance to oversee the 2010 elections.
After resigning, Browning spent the remainder of 2010 leading Protect Your Vote, a political action committee largely bankrolled by the Republican Party of Florida that agitated for the defeat of Amendments 5 and 6, the so-called “Fair Districts” amendments that limit the legislature’s ability to draw district lines to protect incumbents and ensure one-party control.
Now named secretary of state for a second time, Browning will oversee Florida’s 2012 elections, the first races that will take place in the newly drawn districts that will be required to adhere to the “Fair Districts” standards.
In a YouTube clip posted before the election that has since been yanked, Browning said that Amendments 5 and 6 would create impossible standards for the legislature to follow in the redistricting process and that there is no doubt the battle over district lines will end in litigation.
“The last thing that Florida needs is another election season filled with litigation,” Browning said. “I believe it’s just not good for Florida.”
Of course, the first legal action taken as a result of the passage of Amendments 5 and 6 came from Reps. Corrine Brown, D-Jacksonville, and Mario Diaz-Balart, R-Miami, filed suit the day after both amendments passed.
Both Brown and Diaz-Balart served as “honorary national chairs” for Browning’s Protect Your Vote.