The High Court’s decision in Shelby v. Holder a step back in the fight for free, fair and accessible elections in the Sunshine State

Category: Press Releases

WCTV - Tallahassee's Whitney Ray interviews FNM's Angie Nixon, as Jacksonville leaders spend the last hours of legislative session advocating that Florida protect our fundamental right to vote. 

....A group of voting rights activists were leaving nothing to chance. They walked the halls and wore shirts in support of a voting fix.

“We feel that everyone should be heard," said Angie Nixon of Florida New Majority. "A Democracy works best when everyone can participate in it.”

 

See the video at http://www.wctv.tv/news/headlines/Election-Reform-Heads-to-Gov-Scotts-Desk--206033481.html#.UZ49GrWG2So

See more video of Tallahassee at: http://www.youtube.com/playlist?feature=plcp&list=PLrek-bz6WCStLRTU1JTav6OI5Tgw0D_Nz 

Category: FNM in the News

Proposed Bill's Failure to Fully Restore Much-Needed 14 Days of Early Voting, or Increase Polling Place Resources, Will Lead to Long Lines Again

Category: Press Releases

The Florida Senate voted Wednsday in favor of an election reform omnibus bill, SB600/HB1713. Before the vote, Sen. Jack Latvala removed a harmful amendment that would have created new restrictions to voter assistance at the polls. Among other provisions, the final measure includes only partial reinstatement of the early voting period by allowing supervisors of elections to offer early voting for between eight to 14 days at their own discretion, and allows voters who move across county lines to vote a regular ballot if they move to a county that has electronic poll books. The bill also creates new restrictions on the use of emergency absentee ballots.

"We applaud the bold efforts of our state and national partners, who united to oppose the election bill's amendment that would have drastically limited assistance for voters who require translation and literacy help at the polls," said Florida New Majority Executive Director, Gihan Perera. "Thanks to our collective letters, demonstrations, op-eds, phone calls and tweets demanding that the amendment be withdrawn, those harmful restrictions were removed from the bill. However, while the bill ultimately passed by the Senate today offers a start toward election reform, these changes do not go far enough. It is insufficient to give all 67 Florida counties the mere option to expand early voting. To avoid long lines again, the state must restore the mandatory 14 days of early voting, including the Sunday before Election Day. The right to vote is not a discretionary item. It is the most fundamental element of our democracy and should be strongly protected."

"This omnibus bill falls short of protecting Florida's voters," said Advancement Project Co-Director Judith Browne Dianis. "To truly fix the problems from the last election, Florida needs a mandatory 14 days of early voting. Smaller counties can simply have their Supervisor of Election's office open during this period, as they typically are, with one poll worker and one voting machine. Early voting is too important to leave up to 67 individual counties' discretion – especially when more than 200,000 Floridians ultimately gave up on waiting in the long lines of 2012, and walked away without voting. These continued problems further underscore the need for an explicit, fundamental right to vote in Florida law, which unfortunately has not yet received attention in the Florida legislature. 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, and to finally guarantee that every citizen can vote in elections that are free, fair and accessible."

Category: Press Releases

Despite all that went wrong in Florida during the 2012 elections, there were also moving displays of determination that inspired. Latino voters throughout the state made a historic showing at the polls. In response to the elimination of the last Sunday of early voting, African-American churches doubled down on their “Souls to the Polls” campaign — an initiative that’s been especially helpful for elderly voters, who receive mobility assistance from church volunteers — making history with a larger-than-ever early voting turnout.

If Florida’s omnibus elections bill passes, however, some of these Cubans, Puerto Ricans, other Latinos and Haitian-American citizens are likely to have a harder time voting. A recent amendment to the legislation, tucked in by Senate Ethics and Elections Committee Chairman Jack Latvala, R-Clearwater, threatens to change the rules for voters who require help at the polls, including the elderly and people who do not speak English as their primary language. The proposed modifications would create new barriers specifically for these vulnerable citizens.

Under current Florida law — and under the federal Voting Rights Act — voters who need assistance at the polls may bring somebody into the voting booth. This right also extends to people with disabilities, those who are visually impaired, and voters who are unable to read or fully understand complex ballot language. Section 208 of the Voting Rights Act expressly allows voters to make their own choice about whom to bring with them, to ensure that they are comfortable with the process and can have a meaningful voice.

Sen. Latvala’s amendment interferes with this federally protected right by doing two things. First, in order to receive help, the voter would be required to know the assistor before the day the vote is cast. In a one-two punch of voter suppression, the amendment also limits the number of voters whom an assistor may help to no more than 10 during any election.

Voters who don’t understand how a machine works, or do not know how to read and write in English, should never feel that they cannot ask for help. Yet these provisions essentially tell citizens that, if they don’t have an assistor available whom they personally know, or if someone they do know has already helped 10 others, then they’re on their own. This is unnecessary, unacceptable and undermines the essence of our democracy. 

The omnibus bill has especially dire consequences for communities of color, such as Latino and Haitian-American citizens who routinely depend on language assistance from community-based poll monitors and voter protection advocates. During the 2012 early voting, for example, SEIU 1199 trained 20 volunteers to provide Creole translation help in South Florida — assisting approximately 4,000 voters in the end.

But even with the number of voters they were able to help, the demand for language and literary assistance still exceeded what volunteers and election staff could provide. Had there been an arbitrary limit of 10 voters per translator, or a baseless requirement for them to know each other beforehand, these policies would have resulted in thousands of disenfranchised voters, overburdened election staff and longer lines for everybody.

Year after year, we see barriers erected to voting in Florida. It is time to stop these tactics with bold, forward-looking measures that ensure all eligible citizens can cast a ballot — it’s time to get politicians out of the way and enshrine the fundamental right to vote into state law.

We are joined by a broad coalition — including Advancement Project, Mi Familia Vota, the Florida State Conference of the NAACP, the American Civil Liberties Union of Florida, Progress Florida, the Haitian-American Grassroots Coalition and the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, among others — who also want to enshrine an affirmative right to vote.

At the very least, the Legislature must withdraw the amendment that limits voting assistors from the omnibus election bill. Voting is the one time when we are all equal. This is the American dream. Whether rich or poor, young or old, and regardless of what language a person speaks, we all have the same power when we enter the voting booth. Our lawmakers should want voters in need to have more support, not less, for exercising their right.

 

Full Article: http://on.tdo.com/12h4B1g 

 

Category: FNM in the News

Several Awake the State chapters, FCAN, FNM, and other local activists will be taking action to protect voters tommorrow, April 23, 2013.

Help spread the news by sharing this information with your friends and families. 

Clearwater
Time: 2:00pm
Located at: Sen. Latvala's Office, 26133 U.S. Highway 19 North, Suite 201, Clearwater, FL 33763
For more information, contact: Tim Heberlein at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or 813-532-9846

Fort Myers
Time: 3:30-5:00pm
Located at: Intersection of Victoria & US41 (just west of Benacquisto's district office)
For more information, contact: Michelle Guerin at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or 239-839-6118

Palm Beach
Time: 4-6pm
Located at: Rep. Hager's District Office, 301 Yamato Road in Boca Raton
For more information, contact: Tom Conboy at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or 561-412-6997
https://www.facebook.com/events/545553752154174 

Miami
Located at: Sen. Miguel Diaz de la Portilla's District Office, 2100 Coral Way, Suite 505, Miami, FL 33145
For more information, contact Danilo Balladares at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or 786-253-6407

Category: Updates
 
Coalition of Civil Rights Organizations, Legal Groups & Immigrant Justice Advocates Oppose Elections Bill Amendment That Would Create Barriers for Voters who are Elderly, Disabled, Unable to Read or Write, or Do Not Speak English
Category: Press Releases

Coalition of state leaders call for new measures to fix Florida’s broken election system, affirm support for enshrining the right to vote into state law

 

Category: Press Releases

Activists and workers in 23 cities across Florida laced up their boots, grabbed their picket signs, and took to the streets on March 5 to protest the state’s now-infamous voter suppression laws. Read more 

Category: FNM in the News

The long lines of Nov. 6 showed the need for change...

FNM's Executive Director, Gihan Perera and Advancement Project's Judith Browne Dianis were quoted in the Tallahassee Democrat arguing for voting as a fundamental right.  Read the full story here: http://on.tdo.com/13UiaH8

 

 

Category: FNM in the News
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