Thursday, July 01, 2004

Judge rules for media on Florida voter list

Upholds both 'right to inspect' and 'right to copy'

Thursday, July 1, 2004 Posted: 2:13 PM EDT (1813 GMT)

(CNN) -- A state court judge in Florida ordered Thursday that the board of elections immediately release a list of nearly 50,000 suspected felons to CNN and other news organizations that last month sued the state for access to copies of the list.

The list is used to determine who will be eligible to vote in November's presidential election in the state.

Florida is one of a handful of states that bar people convicted of felonies in that state from voting.

In 2000, a similar list was the center of controversy when state officials acknowledged after the election that it contained thousands of names in error, thus barring eligible people from voting.

Many of the barred voters were African-Americans, who traditionally tend to vote Democratic.

Bush won the state by a 537-vote margin and, with it, the presidency.

The lawsuit, filed by CNN and joined by other news organizations, challenged a 2001 statute passed by the Republican-controlled legislature that limited the public's access to the list.

News organizations were allowed to inspect the list, but not make copies of it or take notes from it. (CNN asks Florida court for ineligible voters list)

"The right to inspect without the right to copy is an empty right indeed," said Leon County Circuit Judge Nikki Clark, in her six-page order.

condt .......................

This could prove to be a turing point.


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