Tickets on Sale for Play Based on the Life of Clarence Darrow Following the Award Presentation

May 6, 2008

Brandon Hensler, Director of Communications, 786-363-2737 or

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. – The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) Foundation of Florida will present the 2008 Nelson Poynter Civil Liberties Award to the four founders of the Florida Voters Coalition at its annual event. The Coalition led the charge to reform Florida’s voting systems in 2007 with the replacement of electronic paperless voting machines with paper-based optical scan systems. The Coalition founders, including Pam Haengel of St. Petersburg, will receive the award at a ceremony at the Palladium Theater in St. Petersburg on Saturday, May 17, 2008.

The Nelson Poynter Civil Liberties Award is the highest honor bestowed by the civil liberties organization. The Poynter award will be shared by Pam Haengel, Dan McCrea, Kindra Muntz and Susan Pynchon. In addition, the civil liberties organization will be recognizing the work of Florida’s several non-partisan grassroots voting integrity organizations, including the Miami-Dade Election Reform Coalition, Broward Election Reform Coalition, Palm Beach Coalition for Election Reform, Volusia County-based Florida Fair Elections Coalition, Sarasota Alliance for Fair Elections and Voting Integrity Alliance of Tampa Bay.

Following the award ceremony, Gary L. Anderson, the renowned portrayer of America’s most famous, celebrated and hated attorney – Clarence Darrow – will be featured in a special performance. Clarence Darrow: The Search for Justice recounts the lawyer’s life and greatest trials, including the Scopes “Monkey” Trial, murder, civil rights trials, and his defense of the most hated in our society.

Prior to the performance there will be a cocktail reception in honor of the Poynter recipients beginning at 6:00PM, followed by the show at 7:15. The events will take place at The Palladium, 253 Fifth Avenue North, in St. Petersburg, FL. For more information, sponsorships or ticket sales, contact Monique Lebron at

The ACLU Foundation of Florida’s Nelson Poynter Civil Liberties Award is presented each year to an individual or group of individuals whom have made an outstanding contribution to the advancement of civil liberties. 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.

“It is time to recognize and honor the work of citizen watchdogs to guarantee all citizens of Florida fair, accessible, re-countable, accurate and reliable elections,” said Howard Simon, Executive Director of the ACLU of Florida. “We are grateful to the four awardees and the voting reform groups throughout Florida for efforts to ensure the integrity of our elections. As problem filled as our elections have been in Florida, imagine how much worse things would have been were if not for the efforts of non-partisan watchdog organizations.”

“There is nothing more vital to democracy than citizens being able to exercise their right to vote and knowing their vote counted. Floridians known too well it doesn’t always work that way. To get it right, we— the voters—must claim ownership of the process, get involved, and stay involved,” said Pam Haengel, vice president and co-founder of Florida Voters Coalition (FVC), and president of Voting Integrity Alliance of Tampa Bay, both non-partisan, grassroots citizens' groups dedicated to election reform. “We’re working hard, but Florida has a long way to go.” FVC brings the voter’s voice to the legislative process by staying abreast of the issues and being in touch with voters and lawmakers at the local, state and federal levels. FVC also partners with academics in computer science, statistics and election law, other interested organizations, and elections officials all over the country.

Dan McCrea, president and co-founder of FVC and Florida Voters Foundation, works with coalition members and partners to provide public education, research, lobbying, litigation, and other programs to improve elections in Florida and nationally. In October 2007, Dan helped organized the first ever Post Election Audit Summit held in Minneapolis. Before co-founding FVC, Dan was Florida Director of Voter Action and Government Relations Chair of the Miami-Dade Election Reform Coalition.

In January 2006, after spending two years researching the problems of electronic voting, Kindra Muntz formed the Sarasota Alliance for Fair Elections (SAFE). As president of SAFE, she led the Sarasota County citizens’ petition drive that resulted in the November 2006 win for voter-verified paper ballots and mandatory audits of election results.

Susan Pynchon of De Leon Springs was a volunteer investigating voting irregularities in Volusia County’s 2004 elections when she went through the Elections Office trash to uncover weaknesses in the security and equipment. Her volunteer work earned her national recognition as an investigator of the pitfalls of electronic voting systems. She has been featured in national print and broadcast media outlets. Together, Pynchon was a founder of the Florida Fair Elections Coalition. “I am truly honored and humbled as one of the 2008 recipients of the Nelson Poynter award,” said Pynchon.

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, two Florida Planned Parenthood leaders, and author and columnist Carl Hiaasen.

About the ACLU of Florida
The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of Florida is freedom's watchdog, working daily in the courts, legislatures and communities to defend individual rights and personal freedoms guaranteed by the Constitution and the Bill of Rights. For additional information, visit our Web site at:

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2008 Press Releases