January 17, 2013 –

Restoring early voting is only the first step in securing our fundamental right to vote

Florida New Majority’s Executive Director Gihan Perera released the following statement in response to  Gov. Rick Scott’s endorsement of three major changes to election procedures in Florida.

“We are glad that Governor Scott has joined groups like Florida New Majority, Mi Familia Vota, the Advancement Project, Florida Immigrant Coalition, SEIU and many others in focusing his attention on the issue of voting rights.

But it’s not enough.

The issue is more than just repealing HB 1355 and restoring the number of early voting days to 14. This is about doing something once and for all to fix the structural ways that prohibit people from carrying out one of the most basic functions of citizenship.

In fact, there is no better time to take bold and decisive action to secure democracy. Our fundamental human and American right to vote must be enshrined into the law and into our state constitution. We owe it to past and future generations to ensure that no elected official or party can take away those rights because of politics or popularity.

To structurally secure our fundamental right to vote, legislation has to ensure equal protection, facilitate access and provide mechanisms for enforcement.  This  should include:

– Automatic voter registration upon turning 18.

– Use of the statewide voter database to allow voters to update their voter registration at the polls despite the county they are registered in.

– Restoration of a felon’s right to vote upon completion of their sentence.

– Enhancement of voter protection laws to include gender, income levels and age in addition to race.

– Criminalization of deceptive practices in elections or by election administrators.

Floridians deserve a voting system that takes into account the realities and resources of the 21st century and one that provides  election supervisors the flexibility in setting  hours and locations that will encourage  participation. Most of all, we deserve a government that will use this historical opportunity to work together and make Florida a model state to vote in.”

FNM is a statewide civil rights organization that has been working since 2009 to connect and empower Florida’s diverse communities. For more information on Florida New Majority, please visit our web site at newfloridamajority.org.