MEDIA CONTACT: Elbert Garcia
MIAMI - Less than a month before the start of the 2013 Legislative session, Florida New Majority (FNM) and a coalition of groups released recommendations to correct electoral dysfunction in Florida. The recommendations will ensure future elections are free, fair and accessible for all people.
Other community organizations that signed onto the recommendations sent to the Florida House and Senate Committees on Ethics and Elections include: Progress Florida; the Miami Workers Center (MWC), the Florida Immigrant Rights Coalition (FLIC), FANM/Haitian Women of Miami, Organize Now, Florida Rights Restoration Coalition, the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC), Catalyst Miami, AFSCME, Mi Familia Vota, Florida State Conference of the NAACP, A Philip Randolph Institute, the Advancement Project, PowerU and the ACLU of Florida.
"A majority of Florida voters experienced, heard, or read about long lines at the polls. Now is the time to signal to all Floridians, and the rest of the country, that voting is not just a privilege for the few, but a fundamental human and constitutional right," said FNM Executive Director Gihan Perera.
"There are serious flaws in the way that our state manages elections that need to be addressed to make sure our democracy is free and fair," stated Howard Simon, Executive Director of the ACLU of Florida. "If all we do is address the problems voters endured in November, we will have lost the opportunity to address badly needed reforms. Just undoing restrictions imposed by the Legislature and returning to the way it was before the governor signed H.B. 1355 into law is not a program for election reform."
"If our legislative leaders truly support a vibrant and inclusive democracy, they must eliminate unnecessary barriers put in place by their colleagues in years past that caused so many Florida voters to wait an unconscionable length of time to cast a vote in 2012," said Mark Ferrulo, Executive Director of Progress Florida.
True election reform will improve the early voting process, modernize the voter registration system and protect voters against discrimination based on gender, race, age, income level, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, or disability. Florida needs rules that are consistent and easy to understand. This will allow an eager public to exercise their civic responsibility and most basic democratic right.
Now more than ever, voters are ready for basic standards and legislative changes that bring convenience, choice, freedom, opportunity and mutual responsibility. The path to accomplish this is through adopting the following legislative actions:
- Create a pathway to restore voting rights for persons convicted of a crime who have served their time. This is a reform that is supported by law enforcement because restoring voting rights gives people a stake in their communities and reduces the chance of recidivism;
- Provide automatic voter registration for all individuals who are eligible to vote under current law;
- Ensure that all eligible voters can register to vote online;
- Allow voters to update their voter registration address at the polls when they move across county lines, and cast a regular ballot rather than a provisional ballot;
- Restore early voting to 14 days (including weekends and the last Sunday before Election Day) and ensure voting for at least 12 hours each day;
- Provide Supervisors of Elections the flexibility to choose early voting locations consistent with the selection of sites on Election Day;
- Provide Supervisors with the resources they need to improve the voter experience at the polls; and
- Ensure that any violation of voting rights by the state or any institution is punishable under the full extent of the law.
"Florida has all too often been the poster child for non-effective electoral practices, and often at the cost of violating civil rights," said Perera. "This legislative session the Legislature has a major opportunity to not just restore the public confidence in our voting system, but also ensure that democracy works for all."
FNM is a statewide civil rights organization that has been working since 2009 to connect and empower Florida's diverse communities. For more information on Florida New Majority, please visit our web site at http://www.flnewmajority.org.