Sunday, July 25, 2004


The Miami Herald reported Friday on a curious incident at a naturalization ceremony in Jacksonville:

...Just before the new citizens left the June 29 event, an immigration official directing the swearing-in urged the them to stop by a voter registration table -- a not uncommon sight at naturalization ceremonies.

But this table was unusual: Those handing out forms were Republican volunteers -- and the party affiliation box had been checked off ahead of time to make all of the new voters members of the GOP.

All of it was suspicious to Linda Cross, who was there to watch her husband, Dario Cruz, take his citizenship oath. Cross asked one of the women sitting at the table in the foyer of the University of North Florida auditorium whether there were any forms that left the party affiliation blank.

She was told no.

"They said they didn't have any forms that weren't checked," Cross recalled. "She said, `We're a Republican organization.'"...

But who could have done such a thing? Surely no one with an official tie to the GOP, right?

While immigration officials said that the organization that offered voter registration cards to new citizens was "unknown," a story about the initial controversy in The Florida Times-Union identified one of those registering voters as being a Republican volunteer named Millie McLean.

McLean was identified last October as being in charge of voter registration drives for the Republican Women's Club of Duval County Federated, one of dozens of clubs statewide that are chartered by the Republican Party of Florida.

And surely all concerned realized the seriousness of this, didn't they?

It is a third-degree felony in Florida to alter voter registration forms without the voter's consent.

But [Dick] Carlberg, [assistant supervisor of elections for Duval County,] ... said that while the forms were pre-checked Republican, some voters had crossed it out and selected another party affiliation, indicating they understood they had a choice.

"At worst it was unethical," Carlberg said. "It depends on your point of view. But illegal, no."

Jeb Bush's Florida -- the northernmost banana republic.

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