Nelson tells Senate new voter laws violate ‘basic rights’by John Kennedy | November 1st, 2011
Democratic U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson called Tuesday for the Senate to hold hearings across Florida and other states where Republican-led legislative majorities approved strict new voting standards.
Nelson first made his request last week, in a letter to Illinois Sen. Richard Durbin, the Democrat heading a judiciary subcommittee overseeing the constitution and civil rights. But he echoed his demand Tuesday before the full Senate.
“No state should have the right to make a law if it abridges people’s basic rights,” said Nelson, who wants the hearings held in Florida and 13 other states that have enacted new voting laws.
Boca Raton Democratic U.S. Rep. Ted Deutch last summer called for congressional hearings into the changes, which Democrats and their allies say are designed to block and disenfranchise voters, particularly minorities and Democratic-leaning college students.
The goal of these Republican-ruled state legislatures is to reduce voter turnout in next year’s presidential contest, critics say. 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 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.