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March 12, 2014

Florida legislators announce two new bills to protect the right to vote

The Florida Voting Rights Act and the Florida Right to Vote Act comprehensively uphold democracy from different angles of Florida law

Live Oak —

Pushing back against repeated state actions to restrict voting, today a group of Florida legislators announced two new bills to comprehensively protect the right to vote:

The Florida Voting Rights Act (SB 1246 and HB 1079), co-sponsored by Senator Geraldine Thompson (D-Orlando) and Representative Reggie Fullwood (D-Jacksonville), would prohibit any voting procedures that discriminate on the basis of race, gender, age, income level, sexual orientation, language, religion or disability. It would also allow the Florida Attorney General to petition the Florida Supreme Court to review changes in voting procedure (including but not limited to changes in redistricting plans, early voting, absentee voting, language access, list maintenance and voter registration) before they go into effect, to determine if they have a discriminatory impact.

The Florida Right to Vote Act (SB 1132 and HB 1073), co-sponsored by Senator Oscar Braynon (D-Miami Gardens) and Representative Victor M. Torres (D-Orlando), would make voting a fundamental right in Florida – requiring voting policies to fall under strict scrutiny, the highest standard of judicial review. This would require lawmakers and election officials, including Supervisors of Elections, to demonstrate a compelling reason before they can enact policies that make it harder to vote, show that the measure is narrowly tailored, and prove that it will advance its stated goal.

“As lawmakers in the world’s greatest democracy, we should make voting easier for our citizens, not harder,” said Sen. Thompson. “Yet over the past few years, Florida politicians have passed and pursued a veritable kitchen sink of measures to restrict access to the ballot, including onerous constraints on registration drives, cuts to the early voting period, and repeated attempts to kick off eligible citizens from the voter rolls. I am proud to join my colleagues in introducing comprehensive, multifaceted legislation that will firmly protect the right to vote in Florida.”

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