Groups held rallies in seven counties across the state pledging to fight for a Florida for All.
On the day that flawed midterms results were certified and new state legislators sworn in, Florida groups protested the voter suppression that led to the failed process and announced their efforts for a 21st century voting rights act. The groups also expressed their concerns as Florida prepares to have Ron DeSantis as its new Governor and vow to protect their communities from attacks to marginalized Floridians. At the rallies, they chanted, “we do not concede” to bigotry or division and demanded a state where everyone can thrive, pledging to continue to defend a Florida for all.
“While Florida’s flawed election results are devastating, we will continue to organize to resist hateful policies, register one million new voters, and reach for the best of what we know we can be as a state,” explained Andrea Cristina Mercado, Executive Director of the New Florida Majority at the Broward County rally. “The voters who previously did not engage with elections before were inspired to get involved this year and we’re not stopping now. We’re raising the bar for friends and foes and saying ‘you have to do better.’ You have to do better because we won’t tolerate being a state with one of the largest gaps between rich and poor any more. You have to do better because whether you believe it or not climate change is hitting you in the face. You have to do better because the people of color and progressive coalition that came together in this election have felt our power and seen our possibility and we won’t stop until we have a state that works for all of us.”
Despite the narrow election results, they point to more than 250,000 voters joining the electoral process who sat out 2016 and the record numbers of midterm turnout to show that the coalition for a Florida for All of us is growing. With the passage of Amendment 4 re-enfranchising 1.4 million returning citizens, they say they will do the work to register those voters and make it easier for all Floridians to have their vote counted.
“Even in the best functioning counties,” explains Sen. Dwight Bullard, political director of the New Florida Majority, “Florida’s elections are inheriting the legacy of more than a decade of Rick Scott’s voter suppression campaign. Every single supervisor of elections and state legislator has to be looking at the flawed 2018 elections and ask themselves, ‘how can I making voting easier, not harder. It’s that simple.”
In total, seven counties across the state held rallies calling on elected officials to address the deep issues of voter suppression and ill-equipped processes exposed in the 2018 election.
At the Palm Beach rally, Laura Goodhue, Executive Director, Florida Alliance of Planned Parenthood Affiliates“Too often Florida politicians don’t represent the people they serve, especially when it comes to decisions about reproductive health care and our own bodies. That is why Planned Parenthood will work to ensure that every vote is counted and politicians don’t end up making our choices without us,”
Ammar Ahmed, Political Director of Emgage Action, summarized his reason for being at the Palm Beach rally, “that government of the people, by the people, for the people requires that people have access a functioning voting system.”
Stephanie Porta, executive director of Organize Florida, added, “while we were looking forward to a new era in government in Florida, where justice through equity and inclusion become our new guiding stars, we remain steadfast in our commitment to those ideals and will continue to work to create a Florida that is fair and representative to all. “
The groups are expected to present a plan for voting rights to undo the negative impact of past voter suppression policies in the weeks to come and plan further mobilizations to counter the racial hostility that marked the 2018 campaigns.