Sarasota News Leader

09/28/12

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Sarasota News Leader September 28, 2012 "In terms of fraud prevention," he said, "it's really the cat's meow" — which explains why he and other supervisors of election were shocked, he said, when the Florida Legislature began meddling with voting rights during its 2011 session. Lawmakers voted to limit early voting hours, crack down on third-party voter registra- tion groups and make it harder for voters to change their addresses at the polls, all despite a dearth of evidence that voter fraud was any kind of real problem in the Sunshine State. The real problem with the system? It was "too accessible," Sancho said, and the Republican Party, which controls the Legislature as well as the governor's office, wanted to depress turnout for the 2012 election. But such actions are hardly new, Sancho ar- gued. He went back to the early years of the republic and described a chaotic, discrim- inatory voting system that disenfranchised Page 23 whichever groups happened to be the coun- try's chief object of scorn at the time. "This is not new. Florida is not inventing voter suppression," Sancho said. "This is our true electoral history." He brought the story up to 2000, mentioning Katherine Harris (a name that drew hisses from the assembled Democrats) and the deci- sion to place the Florida Division of Elections within the office of the secretary of state, who is directly appointed by the governor. Sancho called for depoliticizing the division, without which "our system is suspect of manipula- tion." "Let's make this election about the will of the people," he concluded, acknowledging the tough fight ahead. "All I can do in my county is open the door as wide as possible." VISIT SARASOTA HIRES SPORTS DIRECTOR Visit Sarasota County, the official destination marketing organization for Sarasota County, recently added Nicole Rissler to its staff as director of sports. Prior to joining the VSC, Rissler worked for The American Red Cross as director of finan- cial resources and community relations and with the Sarasota Y as the director of market- ing and communications, a news release says. As director of sports, Rissler will be responsi- ble for attracting new sports business to the county and serving existing sports businesses, the news release says. Sports tourism is a major economic engine in Sarasota County, bringing in more than $42 million in economic impact from 61 events last year, the release adds. SarasotaNewsLeader.com

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