Congressional hearing to be held in Florida on new voter lawby John Kennedy | November 15th, 2011
Illinois Sen. Richard Durbin approved Tuesday fellow Democrat Bill Nelson’s request for a congressional hearing in Florida on the state’s new voter law, which critics say is part of a Republican-driven effort to supress voter turnout in next year’s presidential election.
“In a democracy as vibrant as ours, there is perhaps no right that is so sacred or fundamental than the right to vote,” Durbin wrote Nelson. “I am deeply troubled by the disenfranchising impact of these recently passed state voting laws.”
Durbin is chairman of the Senate Subcommittee on the Constitution, Civil Rights and Human Rights. Durbin said the panel will hold a “field hearing” in the state, examining the impact of the new Florida law and those approved in nearby states.
Nelson wrote Durbin last month, seeking the hearing. He said new voter laws approved in Florida and 13 other Republican-ruled states violate “basic rights.”
Democrats and allied organizations say Republican legislators are trying to reduce turnout by limiting early voting and imposing tighter restrictions on third-party groups that register voters.
The ACLU and other voting rights groups have already sued to stop implementation of the law. A study by the Brennan Center for Justice found the new laws could keep 5 million people from voting next year.
Supporters of the measures deny any partisan motivation, instead saying the stricter standards are intended to reduce voter-fraud.