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Civil liberties group offers Election Protection hotline to help Miami-Dade voters

Voting in Miami David Santiago elneuvoherald

@ByKristenMClark

Worried that poor and minority voters might be disenfranchised because of the impacts of Hurricane Irma, a national civil liberties group is promoting its Election Protection hotline in advance of Tuesday's special elections for open House and Senate seats in Miami-Dade County.

The Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law -- a nonpartisan, nonprofit organization that runs the hotline -- was among the groups that supported the Florida Democratic Party's request to Gov. Rick Scott for him to delay the special elections for Senate District 40 and House District 116.

Scott denied the request, ensuring the elections would happen as originally planned. Voting early in person and by mail is already underway. Tuesday is Election Day.

The organization said Scott postponed elections in Lee County -- also scheduled for Tuesday -- to Oct. 3, but "he did not provide the same relief for Miami-Dade voters."

"By choosing to delay some elections and not others, Governor Scott will deny minority voters who have been uniquely impacted by the destruction from Hurricane Irma, the opportunity to elect representatives of their choice," Kristen Clarke, president and executive director of the Lawyers’ Committee, said in a statement.

Scott's office noted that Miami-Dade County Supervisor of Elections Christina White did not ask for the elections under her supervision to be re-scheduled, while local officials and elections supervisors overseeing city elections in Cape Coral and Fort Myers had.

“We rely on the independent supervisors of elections to guide decision-making on elections in their counties. Supervisor of Elections Christina White has requested to move forward with this election, and we will accept her guidance,” Scott spokesman McKinley Lewis had said last week.

Nonetheless, the committee has its concerns about storm victims not being able to make it to the polls.

The group wants eligible voters who have voting-related questions to call its hotline, 1-866-OUR-VOTE (1-866-687-8683).

Photo credit: David Santiago / El Nuevo Herald

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