So how is it that this particular teacher is still allowed to walk the streets like a citizen or something?
The teacher who heads up New Smyrna Beach High School's student government association could face thousands of dollars in fines. Her transgression? Helping students register to vote.Yeah. We know what you're thinking, what are these kids doing in a student government association when they should be in a test prep class? FCAT is coming don't you know? No, not that FCAT. This FCAT. But let's set that aside for the moment and examine how this viper came to strike at the breast of the Florida Public School system.
When Jill Cicciarelli organized a drive at the start of the school year to get students pre-registered, she ran afoul of Florida's new and controversial election law. The new rules require that third parties who sign up new voters register with the state and that they submit applications within 48 hours.Well of course it does. You think we want just anybody out there telling people they can vote? Is that what they're teaching in Civics classes these days?
Republican lawmakers who backed the rules said they were necessary to reduce voter fraud."You'd be surprised how many people will say they're going to vote for you, but then when they get in that booth, go ahead and vote for someone else," said one republican lawmaker who declined to be identified.
Fear of violating the new rules prompted the League of Women Voters to suspend voter registration efforts in Florida. Local political activists in both parties have been similarly stymied, Volusia County Supervisor of Elections Ann McFall said. "It's bizarre," McFall said of the law. "I haven't found one person who likes this law.""I like it,"said Florida governor Rick Scott who signed the law. "How long do you think I'd be in office if I let everybody vote?"
Shannon Miller, a 17-year-old senior who serves as co-president of the student government association along with classmate Crystal Merrick, said she was glad she had the chance to register at school. She wonders how many of her peers will participate if the process is too formalized. "It may discourage some students (from registering) if it's more difficult," she said. "We're more apt to get involved, but (some students) won't go to the trouble if they think it's hard.""What's your point?" Scott asked.
Supporters said it was necessary to prevent voter fraud, though elections supervisors like Volusia County Supervisor of Elections Ann McFall said they haven't had a problem. "I don't see it," she said in a telephone interview last week from her office in DeLand. "I truly don't see it.""Oh, like the County Supervisor of Elections would know about fraud going on in her district," said state Rep. Dorothy Hukill, a Republican from Port Orange who backed the bill.
"There are reasons for the law," said Hukill. "Part of the reason is to protect people like (the students), so they know they're being registered properly."When asked how someone could be registered to vote improperly Hukill referred reporters to the local Democratic Party Headquarters. "Every voter they register is improper in my view," she added.
For the students involved in the voter registration drive, the incident has proven an unsolicited lesson in real-life civics, New Smyrna Beach High Principal Jim Tager said."Grab power any way you can, and when you get it, do everything you can to keep the other side down." he said. "Is it any wonder why kids don't trust adults?"