Quite a concept: Public records should be made public

Published July 1, 2004 6:14PM (EDT)

Let the sun shine in on Florida's list of 50,000 suspected felons, a state court judge ruled today:

"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."

By Geraldine Sealey

Geraldine Sealey is senior news editor at Salon.com.

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