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Election 2004

Disallow wage amendment, suit asks

Amendment-favoring petitions were fraudulent, claims one of three new actions accusing ACORN.

By LUCY MORGAN
Published October 30, 2004

TALLAHASSEE - Two lawsuits and an elections commission complaint were filed Friday against a group backing a constitutional amendment to increase the minimum wage in Florida.

The Association for Community Organizations for Reform Now, or ACORN, was accused of fraud in the Leon Circuit Court suit by Carolyn Hart of North Florida.

Attorney Warren H. Husband of Tallahassee asks the court to block elections officials from counting the votes on Amendment 5, which would increase the minimum wage from $5.l5 to $6.15.

ACORN has already been named the target of an investigation of election fraud by the Florida Department of Law Enforcement.

The Leon lawsuit alleges that ACORN violated state election laws and turned in fraudulent petitions to get the amendment on the ballot. It asks the court to set aside approval of the ballot issue and prohibit the counting of votes.

The second lawsuit was filed in Broward County for 11 people who signed voter registration cards distributed by ACORN.

The plaintiffs say they filled out registration cards in Broward and Miami-Dade counties and thought they were going to be able to vote until an anonymous ACORN employee turned up 179 registration cards that were never given to election officials. The cards were turned over to lawyers for a former ACORN employee who has already sued the group.

All of the would-be voters say they have tried to get officials in Broward and Miami-Dade to let them vote Tuesday, but they have been turned down because their cards were not returned in time.

The suit wants ACORN permanently barred from collecting voter registration cards or signatures for petitions because it contends the group illegally paid for voter registrations, a felony under Florida law, and defrauded those who thought they would get to vote.

The lawsuit was filed by Stuart Rosenfeldt and William R. Scherer, Fort Lauderdale lawyers.

ACORN spokesman Brian Kettenring said Scherer is a longtime supporter of President Bush and on his legal team.

"These are obviously a last-ditch attempts by somebody who knows they are losing," said ACORN spokeswoman Meghan Scott. "With every poll that comes out, it's clear this is something the people of Florida want. They are trying to get in the way of an extremely democratic process."

The Florida Elections Commission complaint was filed by Susan Powers, a Tallahassee political consultant. She asked the commission to look at election fraud allegedly committed by ACORN. The commission could fine ACORN for each violation of the election law if it finds the group guilty.

[Last modified October 30, 2004, 01:56:24]


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