Make us your home page
Instagram

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Jesse Jackson coming to Florida to rally against new voter law

In another sign of the national implications of Florida's new voting laws, the Rev. Jesse Jackson is holding rallies in Tampa and Orlando next week to criticize changes approved by the Legislature and Gov. Rick Scott.

Jackson, president of the Rainbow PUSH Coalition, said the new law is aimed at making it harder for people to vote in Florida. The civil rights leader called on the Justice Department to block implementation of the law by refusing to grant "preclearance" in Hillsborough and four other counties, a process required by the federal Voting Rights Act.

"I think Florida may be ground zero for the voter suppression movement," Jackson said in a conference call Friday with Florida reporters.

Jackson criticized provisions of the law that have been strongly attacked by many Democrats.

They include reducing early voting from 14 days to eight and excluding the Sunday before the general election; imposing fines on third-party groups that register voters if they do not submit applications within 48 hours; and requiring voters who change counties to cast provisional ballots if they haven't updated their voting addresses.

For four decades, voters in Florida were allowed to update their addresses on Election Day. Only voters who have moved within the same county will be allowed to do that in 2012.

Jackson said that change is particularly unfair to college students, who move frequently.

The American Civil Liberties Union of Florida has filed a legal challenge to the law, and Scott's attorneys have asked a U.S. District Court to dismiss the governor as a defendant.

Florida, with its 29 electoral votes, is considered a crucial swing state in 2012 to the re-election prospects of President Barack Obama, who carried the state in 2008. In that race, former Gov. Charlie Crist extended the hours of early voting, an act that was widely viewed as helpful to Obama.

Scott received more citizen opposition to the election bill than any other that passed in the spring lawmaking session.

The new law is currently undergoing review by Justice Department lawyers, and a decision is expected by Aug. 8. Opponents have asked the federal government to reject the law, arguing that it would harm the voting rights of racial and ethnic minorities.

Rep. Dennis Baxley, R-Ocala, who championed the law in the House, said during the 2011 legislative session that the changes were necessary to preserve the integrity of the voting system in Florida and to make fraud more difficult. He gave as an example a voter trying to cast more than one ballot in the same election. That view was echoed by Scott when he signed the bill into law May 19.

County election supervisors, who oversee the casting of ballots, say Florida's voter registration database is highly reliable, and they have warned that the changes could cause chaos and confusion at the polls next year.

Jackson's three "voter empowerment rallies" will be held in churches in the I-4 corridor, an area traditionally seen as pivotal in any statewide election.

The rallies are at 9 a.m. Monday at Life Center Church in Orlando; 7:30 p.m. Monday at New Covenant Baptist Church in Orlando; and 2 p.m. Tuesday at the 34th Street Church of God in Tampa.

Steve Bousquet can be reached at bousquet@sptimes.com or (850) 224-7263.

Jesse Jackson coming to Florida to rally against new voter law 07/22/11 [Last modified: Friday, July 22, 2011 10:33pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Review: Mark Bowden's 'Hue 1968' a gripping, and timely, history

    Books

    More than 40 years after it ended, America's war in Vietnam is still contentious, still misunderstood, and fast slipping into the fog of history.

     On Feb. 15, 1968, U.S. Marines carry out an assault on Dong Ba Tower in Hue, South Vietnam. In the battle for the tower, six men died and 50 were wounded.
  2. Florida education news: Athletic trainers, signing bonuses, student vaccinations and more

    Blogs

    SAFETY FIRST: Pasco County school district leaders decide to retain high school athletic trainers, which had been slated for elimination, amid pleas from …

  3. Rays morning after: Why Alex Cobb was out of the game and Alex Colome was in

    Blogs

    Alex Cobb obviously did a really good job pitching the first eight innings for the Rays on Tuesday.

  4. Police commander among 6 charged in deadly 1989 UK soccer deaths

    World

    LONDON — British prosecutors charged six people Wednesday in the 1989 Hillsborough stadium disaster where 96 soccer fans were crushed to death.

    Police, stewards and supporters tend and care for wounded supporters on the pitch at Hillsborough Stadium, in Sheffield, England, on April 15, 1989. British prosecutors on Wednesday June 28, 2017, are set to announce whether they plan to lay charges in the deaths of 96 people in the Hillsborough stadium crush _ one of Britain's worst-ever sporting disasters. [Associated Press]
  5. Supreme Court term ended much different than it began

    Courts

    BC-US—Supreme Court, 1st Ld-Writethru,899

    AP Photo WX109

    People visit the Supreme Court in Washington, Monday, June 26, 2017, as justices issued their final rulings for the term, in Washington.  The Supreme Court began its term nine months ago with Merrick Garland nominated to the bench, Hillary Clinton favored to be the next president, and the court poised to be controlled by Democratic appointees for the first time in 50 years.  Things looked very different when the justices wrapped up their work this week. [Associated Press]