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From the staff of the Tampa Bay Times

Voting rights groups to Scott: We need to fix that -- or else

12

November

TALLAHASSEE -- 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 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 Senator-elect Darren Soto, D-Orlando. 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 includes:

1. Reinstate Early Voting days cut by Governor Scott and members of the Florida

legislature.  Require early voting for at least 14 days, including weekends and the last Sunday

before Election Day, as well as ensure voting for 12 hours each day.

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 adequate number

of voters, poll workers, machines, privacy booths, scanners, printers and translators per polling

place.

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

understanding.  

6. Ensure provisional ballots are counted.  Provisional ballots cast in the wrong precinct or

polling place should be counted for non-precinct related elections i.e., countywide, statewide and

federal offices.

8. Provide adequate notice of polling location.  Voters should be informed of polling locations

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 residence.   

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.

[Last modified: Monday, November 12, 2012 3:49pm]

    

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