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Bill Nelson calls on the Justice Department to probe new voting laws

Are new voting laws passed by Florida and more than a dozen other states the result of a coordinated effort to suppress voter turnout among millions of seniors, young people and minorities in next year’s presidential election? That's what U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson, D-Fla., is asking the Justice Department to investigate.

New voting laws signed in May by Gov. Rick Scott curtail the number of early voting days in Florida from 15 to eight. The law also makes it more difficult for third-party groups, such as the League of Women voters, to register voters. 

Nelson on Thursday asked Attorney General Eric Holder in a letter to investigate "whether new state voting laws resulted from collusion or an orchestrated effort to limit voter turnout. The Department needs to determine whether or not there was broad-based motivation to suppress the vote -- and, if so, whether any laws were violated."   

Nelson earlier this week in a speech on the Senate floor pointed out that the new, stricter voting laws are in states that make up two-thirds of the 270 electoral votes need to win the presidency. That includes Florida, where his own re-election -- and the presidential contest -- will mark the first major test of the new laws in Florida.

He already is getting a hand from the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, which in October launched an effort in Florida to strike back at whey they say are oppressive voting laws designed by Republicans to suppress turnout. 

Among the DSCC's chief jobs this election cycle will be working to keep the seat held by Nelson out of GOP hands. The committee's campaign, called the "2012 Election Protection Project," uses online advertisements on Twitter, Facebook, and Google "to both raise awareness and fight back against partisan attacks on voting rights in Florida and elsewhere," the committee said last month. The  DSCC will also be purchasing advertisements on mobile devices.

It's part of a campaign that includes an online  "Election Protection Project Action Center." Potential voters will be able to register online on the site, the DSCC said.

Nelson in September testified at a hearing about voter access in front of a Senate Judiciary subcommittee, which looked at laws the chairman, Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Ill., said were part of "coordinated, well-funded effort" to suppress voting. Durbin, who largely panned new voting laws in some Republican-led states, said he'd sent letters to the governors of Florida, Wisconsin and Tennessee about their new laws. This week, Nelson asked Durbin to hold field hearings on the matter in all or some of the 14 states with the new voting laws. 

Nelson has been particularly critical of changes to early voting that no longer allow people to vote on the Sunday before elections –- a prime time for many African-American voters who would cast their ballots following church services.

Comments

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Can't take it anymore

If AG Eric Holder is going to investigate the Republican cabal that organized this sprawling voter suppression strategy they will have nothing to fear. Holder couldn't find his own butt with both hands and would never allow powerful persons (and future potential employers) to be pestered by a competent investigation. Same reason there are hundreds of Occuppy Wall Street protestors that have been arrested but less than a dozen of the crooked bankers and investment manipulators that actually crashed the US (and European) economy. The 1%'ers at Goldman Sachs must think this is hilarious. I'm not laughing because I voted for change in 2008 but only got Bush-Lite.

Neo

They do seem to be partisan at times, but since when has the League been a "third party" ?

Perhaps your meant"non-partisan"

Michael  John McCann  -- "Streamer"

How can you try to stop voters from voting? It is a break down of the Democratic System. We as citizens should be able to block these changes. I would ask Mr Nelson legal team to advise what can be done here.

David

If you need to present a valid picture ID to register to vote, then it should be expected to present a picture ID when you vote. Only those who can not present a valid ID (which would lead most anyone to expect they do not have the right to vote) will not be allowed to vote.

We need to stop the stealing of elections!

freedomreigns

I am glad that finally Florida might have FAIR elections. I KNOW FOR A FACT that people have registered more than once in the last presidential election and voted under more than one name! I work for an adult school where the principal who is a staunch Democrat had the students sign up to vote in the cafeteria and announced over the PA system that they could register as long as they voted like he did...Democrat! Do you realize that all you need to vote in Florida is an ADDRESS? People signed up their dead relatives or even made up names with someone's address. It was so unfair! I think a driver's license or ID must be required in order to vote. That is the way it is in some states which believe in being legal!!

freedomreigns

Whoever says that ID's should not be required is probably one of the people who have voted or knows someone who has voted ILLEGALLY. If only there was a way to catch them! There isn't. So, requiring a picture ID should not worry them if they are HONEST.

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