Florida's history of discrimination against African Americans should force the Democratic National Party to count all of the state's delegates at its national convention, a federal lawsuit filed Thursday claims.
The suit, filed by Senate Democratic Leader Steve Geller and two other Democrats in federal district court in Fort Lauderdale, claims that Section Five of the federal Voting Rights Act prohibits the national party form stripping the state of its convention delegates.
The Civil Rights-era law requires the U.S. Justice Department to approve any significant voting change in Florida to make sure it doesn't disenfranchise minority voters and, Geller argues, that includes the Democratic National Committee's demand that Florida switch "from a state-run primary to party run caucus system.''
"The purpose of this lawsuit is not to support one candidate over another; it’s to enforce one of the most basic tenets of our democracy: Count the votes as they were cast," Geller said in announcing the lawsuit.
Geller, a Cooper City lawyer, said the Democratic National Committee has repeatedly argued that the reason it is stripping Florida of its delegates is because it held its primary before the February date
authorized by the party and then refused to conduct a post-primary caucus to designate delegates.
But, Geller argues, a caucus would have replaced the vote by 1.75 million Floridians with an event that was expected to capture only about 100,000 voters at 120 polling sites.
That not only would also have disenfranchised Florida Democrats serving in U.S. military based outside Florida and would "would hardly provide a representative sample of the millions who voted or the rich diversity of the state," he argued.
Geller also argues that Florida’s attorney general, Republican Bill McCollum, would have had to seek special permission from the U.S. Justice Department called “pre-clearance” to change the method of the election in order to comply with the Voting Rights Act requirements.
"It is doubtful Florida would have received this pre-clearance in a timely fashion," he said. Download geller_lawsuit.pdf