by Jeremy Leaming
Unless the Department of Justice and civil rights groups are able to block or greatly minimize Florida’s onerous new restrictions on voting and kill the state’s tawdry attempt to purge voter rolls, the constitutional right to vote for many will face serious obstacles in the sunshine state.
Florida is by no means the only state bent on making the right to a vote a major pain. Wisconsin, South Carolina, Texas, and other Republican controlled states have been working feverishly to ensure that turnout among Latino voters, African American voters, low-income voters, the elderly, and college voters is greatly reduced in this year’s general election. Because Florida is deemed a swing state by political reporters, it garners more attention than some of the other state actions. But Fla. Gov. Rick Scott has also helped attract attention with his staunch defense of the voter suppression tactics.
The DOJ and a string of civil rights groups, such as the Advancement Project, the Brennan Center for Justice, NAACP Legal Defense Fund, the League of Women voters, and others, are fighting the purge and the state’s onerous new voter restrictions.
Co-Director of the Advancement Project Judith Browne blasted Gov. Scott’s purge as a partisan effort to “suppress the vote.”
Ryan P. Haygood, director of the Political Participation Group at NAACP Legal Defense Fund, in a press statement about a lawsuit challenging changes to Florida’s voting laws, said his group is battling an attempt to “discourage political participation” especially of the state’s minority voters.
“Implementation of these additional discriminatory changes to Florida’s voting laws would be devastating for Black and other minority voters in the state,” Haygood said.
The groups’ efforts may irk the state’s right-wing politicians and their apologists in the media, but they are likely the only hope for salvaging the right to vote for scores of Latinos, African Americans, the elderly and many others.
The Brennan Center for Justice and the League of Women Voters, among other groups, have sued to scuttle portions of Florida’s new voter suppression law, such as the rigid requirements on voter registration drives and stringent requirements for voter identification. As noted here they have had some success with a federal judge blocking the provision against third-party voter registrations.