If Gov. Rick Scott and the Republican controlled-Legislature
thought voting rights groups would vanish after Election Day, they were wrong.
Representatives from the Florida New Majority, Advancement
Project, Florida Immigrant Coalition, the AFL-CIO and some Democratic lawmakers
announced Monday during a teleconference with reporters that they would push for
an overhaul of Florida’s election system as well as a possible investigation by
a an entity from outside of the state.
“I don’t believe the Legislature or the Republican governor
will do anything to help the democratic process here in Florida,” said Sen.
Oscar Braynon, D-Miami Gardens. “The governor putting together a task force is
like the guy who stabbed you in the heart saying, ‘Ok, let me operate on you.’”
Florida was a “voting disaster area,” said Jennifer Farmer,
a spokeswoman for the Advancement Project, a Washington D.C. non-profit. Scott
and Republican lawmakers intentionally made it harder to register voters and
allow them to vote by cutting access to early voting poll sites, Farmer said.
About 250,000 fewer people cast ballots in early voting compared
to 2008, Farmer said, making it causing the longer regular voting lines that
plagued counties like Miami-Dade.
A new law passed last year limiting early voting was a “wish
list of things to do to make sure Barack Obama doesn’t get reelected,” said
Rep. Darren Soto, D-Orlando who was elected state senator last week. The group will push for nine reforms, but if they
aren’t followed, “we’ll end up back in court,” Soto said.
Here’s the list:
We are calling for a Florida Voter Bill of Rights that
1. Reinstate Early Voting days cut by Governor Scott and
members of the Florida
early voting for at least 14 days, including weekends and the last Sunday
before Election Day, as well as ensure voting for 12 hours
2. More early voting sites.
There should be at least one early voting site plus one additional for
every 65,000 registered voters in the each county.
3. Local discretion in determining early voting sites. Supervisors of Elections should have
discretion to choose the best sites for Early Voting and
Election Day based upon local needs.
4. Increased polling place resources. A formula should be used to ensure an
of voters, poll workers, machines, privacy booths, scanners,
printers and translators per polling
5. Better voter assistance and bilingual access. Improved voter assistance and translation at
the polls is necessary to ensure every voter has the right
to vote a complete ballot with full
6. Ensure provisional ballots are counted. Provisional ballots cast in the wrong
polling place should be counted for non-precinct related
elections i.e., countywide, statewide and
8. Provide adequate notice of polling location. Voters should be informed of polling
at least 30 days before an election. Ultimately, on Election Day voters should be
able to cast a
ballot in any polling location within their county of
9. A representative Community Advisory Board including
voters of color, low-income
voters, persons with disabilities, and the elderly. Rather than the state changing voting laws in
ways that decrease access and discriminate, the people of
Florida should have open channels to
government officials to communication what is needed to
ensure free, fair and accessible
elections so all eligible citizens can vote.