FL Legislators Don't Go Far Enough On Protecting the Right to Vote

May 03, 2013 –

A Statement from Florida New Majority and Advancement Project

The Florida State Legislature ended their session on Friday by passing an omnibus elections bill that does not do enough to truly fix the problems from the last election in the Sunshine State. Among other provisions, the final measure includes only partial reinstatement of the early voting period previously enjoyed by voters. Florida New Majority, Advancement Project and partner organizations have encouraged lawmakers to fully restore 14 days of early voting for a minimum of 12 hours each day.

“The right to vote is a fundamental part of full engagement and participation in our democracy,” said Gihan Perera, Executive Director of Florida New Majority. “The election bill that came out of the House and Senate may be a step in the right direction, but it ultimately falls short of the standard that all Floridians demand and deserve. The truth is that the right to vote is not an optional benefit whose enforcement and accessibility should be left solely to localities. It is a fundamental right of all people who live in a democracy. If we are truly committed to the kind of nation that our forefathers dreamed of, then we must start with ensuring that free, fair and accessible elections are a reality, starting here in Florida.”

“Half-baked measures are not enough to fix the long lines and other obstacles that stopped so many Florida citizens from voting last November,” said Advancement Project Co-Director Judith Browne Dianis. “Under a fully restored 14 days of mandatory early voting, smaller counties could simply have their Supervisor of Election’s office open during this period, as they typically are, with one poll worker and one voting machine. The cutting of early voting in this bill further underscores the need for an explicit, fundamental right to vote in Florida law. Passing the right-to-vote bill that community groups proposed is the best way to protect citizens from the barriers that we see to voting, year after year.”