On January 20, a group that wished to qualify a local ballot initiative in Fort Myers, Florida, asked the U.S. Supreme Court to hear its case, Citizens for Police Accountability Political Committee v Browning, 09-861. The issue is Florida’s discriminatory law concerning polling places on election day. Florida law says exit pollsters may talk to voters on their way out of the polling place location, within 25 feet of the entrance to the polling place. But petitions cannot talk to votes on their way out of the polling place location, any closer than 100 feet. UPDATE: here is the cert petition filed by Citizens for Police Accountability.
Petitioning at the polls is very successful, because virtually everyone leaving the polling place is a registered voter. The U.S. District Court, on August 22, 2008, had granted an injunction against the Florida law for petitioners. But the U.S. Court of Appeals had reversed that on June 25, 2009. The 11th circuit said it would bother voters to be approached by circulators, but didn’t really explain why exit pollsters are treated better than petitioners. Neither exit pollsters nor petitioners wish to talk to voters on their way in to vote. They only wish to approach people leaving. Exit pollsters typically ask voters to fill out a questionaire that contains between 20 and 30 questions. That takes longer, and is more intrusive, than a petition circulator asking a voter to sign his or her name and address to a petition. Thanks to Paul Jacob for this news.