2008 Nelson Poynter Award for Advancement of Civil Liberties
The prestigious Nelson Poynter Award for 2008 was given to Dan McCrea, Pamela Haengel, Susan Pynchon and Kindra Muntz, Co-Founders of Florida Voters Coalition, for their outstanding work in the field of election integrity for "efforts to, successfully, bring about major reforms in Florida voting systems resulting in the replacement of the paperless DRE voting technology with optical scan equipment; continuing efforts to ensure the integrity of Florida elections by, among other things, securing equal voting rights for disabled and language minority voters as well as changes in state law to require meaningful auditing of voting systems; efforts to forge a statewide voters coalition out of the many local voting reform coalitions; to honor your efforts as a way of emphasizing the important role that citizen watchdog groups have in ensuring fair, accessible, recountable, accurate and reliable elections."
The award is named for the former crusading editor of the St. Petersburg Times, who was never afraid to stand up for unpopular causes. He fought racial segregation, defended the right of a free press, exposed corruption in government and supported the rights of the elderly and the poor. He also led the fight for the Sunshine Law, opening Florida's government to public scrutiny and accountability.
The first recipient of the Nelson Poynter Civil Liberties Award was the late Florida Governor LeRoy Collins in 1978, who was recognized for his courageous leadership in upholding racial justice and opposing the death penalty. Past recipients have also included State Senator Jack Gordon, Judge Richard Yale Feder, Florida and American Bar Association Bar President Chesterfield Smith, Congressman William E. Lehman, Judge Rosemary Barkett, Miami-Dade County School Board Member Janet McAliley, Florida Supreme Court Chief Justice Gerald Kogan, Miami-Dade County Public Defender Bennett H. Brummer, Immigrant Rights Attorney Cheryl Little, Congressman Alcee Hastings, and Planned Parenthood Directors Mary Capobianco and Lillian Tamayo.