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Ruling revives challenge of voter form rejections

By wire services
Published September 29, 2005

MIAMI - A lower court should not have rejected a lawsuit from voters who wanted their partly filled-out voter registration forms approved for the 2004 presidential election, federal appeals judges ruled Wednesday.

The three-judge panel of the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Atlanta cleared the way for lawyers representing three voters and AFL-CIO unions to again challenge Florida's voter registration forms.

A lawsuit was filed in October 2004 against Secretary of State Glenda Hood and election supervisors in Duval, Orange, Palm Beach, Broward and Miami-Dade counties. It claimed that missing information that disqualified the forms was unnecessary.

The suit was thrown out by U.S. District Judge Lawrence King, who ruled that those suing had no legal standing. But the 11th Circuit panel said there was legal standing, and a new complaint could be filed in light of recently passed Florida election laws.

The rejected forms were from people who signed to affirm their voting eligibility, but failed to provide an identification number - such as from a driver's license or a Social Security card - or check boxes affirming their citizenship, mental capacity and felony status.

Attorneys with the Advancement Project argued that the rejections disqualified more than 10,000 people across the state, with a disparate effect on minorities.

Navy to save some historic buildings damaged by Ivan

PENSACOLA - The Navy, pressured by preservationists, agreed Wednesday to spare nine of its most historic buildings in Pensacola that it had planned to demolish after they were damaged by Hurricane Ivan last year. Seven others will be torn down.

The buildings removed from the hit list at Pensacola Naval Air Station include five of seven officers' quarters built in the 1880s on Admirals' Row and one of the Navy's only two surviving World War I-era seaplane hangars.

"That's nine more than the Navy was willing to save, so I'm very happy about that," said Florida Historical Commission chairwoman Judith Bense, who also chairs the University of West Florida's anthropology department.

She was among a number of preservationists who had criticized the Navy's plans to demolish buildings that remained structurally sound after the Sept. 16, 2004, storm because they no longer were needed and would cost too much to repair.

Navy officials said in a news release that preservation interests were taken into account along with the base's military mission and cost. Earlier estimates for fully rehabilitating six of the nine buildings totaled more than $9-million.

Second man convicted in police officer's slaying

TAMPA - A federal jury found a man guilty Wednesday in the slaying of a Polk County police officer more than seven years ago.

Andre T. Paige, 26, was the second man convicted in the March 1998 slaying of rookie Haines City Officer Christopher Todd Horner.

Paige, also convicted of seven other counts in the indictment stemming from a series of robberies, faces life in prison at sentencing Jan. 6.

Christopher B. Gamble, 30, who pleaded guilty in Horner's slaying, was sentenced to life in prison last year. He testified against Paige.

Prosecutors said Horner, 35, was checking out a car with no visible license plates he saw parked in a cemetery. Several men in the car had just robbed a hotel, prosecutors said.

They forced Horner to his knees and one of them shot him in the back of the head with his own gun, prosecutors said.

[Last modified September 29, 2005, 01:18:09]

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