Secretary of State Kurt Browning has decided to step down from his position at the end of February.
According to a press release from Gov. Rick Scott’s office, “Browning will continue to serve as Secretary of State until February 17, after Florida’s Presidential Preference Primary on January 31.”
Browning has been key in the state’s implementation of its controversial elections law passed last year.
As the state waits for five counties to receive federal preclearance to implement the new law, as required by the Voting Rights Act of 1965, Browning filed a lawsuit claiming that the preclearance requirement is “unconstitutional.” The Voting Rights Act was written to outlaw discriminatory voting rules.
Browning had served as Secretary of State from 2006 till April 2010, before being reappointed by Scott last year. After leaving his position in 2010, Browning led a group called Protect Your Vote, a political committee largely bankrolled by the Republican Party of Florida that aimed to defeat Florida’s so-called “Fair Districts” amendments, which somewhat ties the Legislature’s hands when redrawing congressional districts. Fair District amendments were created to prevent legislators from protecting incumbents and giving an edge to one party over another.
The Florida Independent’s Bianca Fortis reported back in October 2010 that Browning had a controversial past in as secretary of state during Charlie Christ’s governorship, as well.
Fortis reported that he “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.
Browning also made the controversial decision to have a D.C. court preclear the more controversial aspects of the state’s new elections law, as opposed to asking for U.S. Department of Justice approval.
The Miami Herald reports that “there has been talk that [Browning’s] considering running for the elected post of Pasco County superintendent of schools next fall.”