On April 19th, a New York Times article was published that brought light to a recent legislation many know nothing about. Why is this off the radar? Legislators are pushing to pass the bill (known as the Senate Bill 956) quickly, with as little notice from both the public and organizations that lobby against such laws. Some of the provisions of the latest bill include a prohibition of anyone to get within 100 feet of voters, a prohibition of voters to use IDs issued by retirement centers and local associations and unnecessary rules on voter registration drives. It is clear that this would mostly hurt the communities that need these resources the most: the elderly and minorities throughout the state. One of the most evident violations of voters’ rights is that this bill would prevent Election Protection groups from reaching voters in line at the polls. These groups educate voters on the process itself and protect them from violations of their rights. If the bill passes, ACLU and others have already stated that they would fight the constitutionality of the legislation.
Not all elected officials stand behind this legislation. Pam Iorio, a Democrat and mayor of Tampa, has already issued a letter to Governor Charlie Crist (R-FL) in response to the dangers that the bill would impose on communities. Let’s hope that others share her perspective, for our voters’ sake. This may not be likely considering that Senate Bill 956 has already passed the Florida Senate Ethics and Elections Committee.
– Marianne Peterson