Local Leaders Welcome Home Desilene Victor

February 15, 2013 –

Voting Rights Groups Unveil Electoral Reform Agenda for Florida

County Commissioner Edmonson, County Commissioner Monestime,
Community Officials and Family Greet North Miami Resident As she Returns Home From the State of the Union

Miami – Miami Dade County Commissioner Audrey Edmonson, Miami Dade County Commissioner Jean Monestime and a coalition of groups including Florida New Majority (FNM), the Haitian Grassroots Coalition, Haitian Women of Miami, the Miami Workers Center welcomed home 102-year old North Miami resident Desiline Victor as she returned home Wednesday from last night’s State of the Union address.

“The voters of Miami-Dade County reminded us (the elected) that their journey has been a hard one. They (the voters) let their voices be heard by participating in a very tedious election process which included long lines and long hours, ” said Commissioner Edmonson. “Voting is a fundamental right and Desiline Victor is a true example of exercising that right.”

Victor’s determination to vote this past November – two separate trips to the polls and waiting on line for at least three hours – became a national story that led to her journey to DC. FNM and the DC-based Advancement Project found Ms. Victor while supporting voters at the poll last election cycle. The group, as part of a broad coalition of civil and human rights organizations, unveiled a set of policy recommendations that will address the fundamental and structural problems with Florida’s election system.

“Ms. Victor embodies the very essence of a true American citizen,” said Commissioner Monestime.. “Despite the challenges she faced at the polling place, she persevered. She braved the long lines to exercise the most precious and fundamental right of every American – the right to vote. May her example strengthen our resolve to fix our voting system in Florida, so that no one will ever again have to wait hours to cast a ballot.”

Edmonson applauded Miami Dade Mayor Carlos Jimenez’s convening of an election advisory group that has forwarded a number of recommendations to the state. She and Commissioner Monestime also presented Ms. Victor with a Proclamation from the County, pronouncing the day “Desiline Victor Day” much to the joy of nearly two dozen gathered family and friends.

“I feel proud, I feel proud, I feel so proud, so proud,” said an energized Victor.

Her impact on Washington was still reverberating among lawmakers.

“I stand in awe of Mrs. Desiline Victor whose determination to vote was steadfast and unwavering , despite voting restrictions imposed by Florida officials in recent years that have led to long lines and wait times at the polls,” said Congresswoman Federica Wilson from the Capital. “The 102-year-old represents the will of the people of the country to exercise their constitutional right to vote. These restrictions are an affront to our democracy and evidence of the need for voting rights legislation that thwarts efforts to discourage and disenfranchise voters.”

Fundamental Reform Needed

Chief amongst their recommendations was the enshrinement of the right to vote in state law that is protected from any sort of discrimination. The groups also call to improve the early voting process and modernize the voter registration to include submitting required information online.

“Ms. Victor represents the kind of heroines and heroes that we had in Florida, who despite the legislatives obstacles put in their way, came out in droves and exercised their human and constitutional right to vote” said FNM Executive Director Gihan Perera. “What needs to be done now is to honor those efforts by restoring the public confidence in our voting system and ensuring that democracy works for all.”

“This is a very strong women, we all saw her yesterday in Washington DC and we were all cheering for her because she represented all of us, there in Washington. ”

“We know that our Mayor already had a task force working on voting changes. We know that the Governor is also considering changes. Now is the time for change so that voters can exercise their most sacred right, the right to vote. The time for change is now, and I’m glad that we have a leader, a “sHero” like Desiline to show us the way.”

“We know that thousands of American citizens were kept from casting their ballots because of long lines and other unacceptable barriers. In a democracy, we have a responsibility to keep voting free, fair and accessible with equal access to the ballot for al,” said Judith Browne Dianis, co director of Advancement Project. These problems could be fixed with federal voting standards that include early voting, modernized registration and other measures that protect our right to vote. Currently, we have 13,000 different jurisdictions who run elections 13000 different ways.”

FNM is a statewide civil rights organization that has been working since 2009 to connect and empower Florida’s diverse communities. Their 2012 Election Cycle mobilization effort reached more than 250,00 Floridians statewide, most of whom were low-propensity voters. For more information on Florida New Majority, please visit our web site at http:www.newfloridamajority.org .