Across Florida
What's happening on other political blogs?

voter registration’

Democrats chide Scott even after state drops plans for voter purge

Thursday, March 27th, 2014 by John Kennedy

The Gov. Rick Scott administration’s decision Thursday to drop a controversial plan to remove noncitizens and other ineligible voters from state rolls drew revived attacks from Democrats who had long opposed the effort dubbed Project Integrity.

“This was a mistake from the beginning, and part of a pattern of throwing up roadblocks for Floridians attempting to hold government accountable,” said Charlie Crist, the former Republican governor turned Democrat, who is Scott’s leading re-election rival.

Florida Democratic Party Chair Allison Tant said, “”While this move is clearly an act of damage-control from a campaign in chaos, this represents a major victory for the people of Florida who have suffered so many voter suppression efforts under the Rick Scott administration.”

Florida Secretary of State Ken Detzner said Thursday that he was delaying plans to conduct the voter review before this year’s election because of technical issues  involving the U.S. Department of Homeland Security SAVE list — the Systematic Alien Verification for Entitlements.

Minority organizations and voter rights groups for months have been urging Scott’s office to drop the review, accusing the governor of trying to shed black- and Hispanic-voters from state rolls.

Detzner, though, said the decision was only made after Homeland Security officials began revamping the data base in an effort not expected to be finished until next year.

 

 

Clemens files automatic voter registration bill

Wednesday, January 9th, 2013 by Dara Kam

Freshman Sen. Jeff Clemens, D-Lake Worth, filed a bill that would make the state responsible for registering eligible voters instead of leaving the onus on voters themselves.

Clemens’s proposal (SB 234) is one of a slew of bills filed by Democrats in the aftermath of the 2012 presidential election where some voters, including some in Clemens’s home county of Palm Beach, waited in line up to eight hours to cast their ballots during early voting.

His proposal would require the state to automatically register eligible U.S. citizens when they reach age 18 using Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles driver’s license data.

“The original purpose of the voter registration system was to disenfranchise women and African-Americans,” Clemens said in a press release. “It’s time we ditched the archaic scheme and realize that every adult American citizen should be automatically registered. There simply is no good reason to make people jump through hoops.”

Assistant U.S. Attorney General Thomas Perez, the country’s leading civil rights prosecutor, also wants the country to join the majority of other democratic nations regarding voting by making the government – instead of the voter – responsible for signing up voters.

Clemens’s proposal gives adults the ability to opt out of getting registered, a twist on the current “Motor Voter” law that requires DHSMV workers to ask those applying for a driver’s license or state ID if they want to register to vote.
(more…)

League of Women Voters and Rock the Vote get back to work in Florida

Wednesday, June 6th, 2012 by Dara Kam

After a federal judge last week blocked portions of a controversial new election law signed by Gov. Rick Scott last year, the League of Women Voters of Florida and Rock the Vote will get back to work registering voters, the groups announced Wednesday.

“Failure was never an option in this battle against voter suppression,” said LWVF President Deirdre Macnab. “Now it’s time for our volunteers to work overtime to make up for lost ground. Our goal? To make sure every eligible Floridian has the opportunity to have their voice heard and their vote counted.”

On May 31, Tallahassee federal judge Robert Hinkle stopped a 48-hour turnaround requirement in the new law for third party groups to turn in voter registrations to elections supervisors and halted a requirement that the organizations submit to the state the names of all “registration agents,” including those who simply hand out fliers. Hinkle wrote that portions of the law dealing with third party voter organizations likely violated at least two federal laws.

While Hinkle’s preliminary injunction was not a final ruling on the law, he wrote that the League of Women Voters and Rock the Vote, two of the plaintiffs in the case, were likely to succeed on the merits of their lawsuit, opening the door for the nonpartisan groups to resume their work. The LWVF had registered voters in Florida for more than seven decades prior to the passage of the law, now being challenged in a federal lawsuit in Washington.

Rock the Vote registered more than 100,000 new voters before the 2008 election, the group’s president Heather Smith said last week.

“Florida is an important youth vote state,” Smith said today. “This decision enables us to get back to the work of encouraging a new generation of engaged voters and future leaders.”

Moveon.org targets Gov. Rick Scott over non-citizen voter purge

Tuesday, June 5th, 2012 by Dara Kam

Activists at Moveon.org have launched a campaign demanding that Gov. Rick Scott drop a controversial non-citizen voter purge, calling it “the worst attack on voting rights in the country.”

The e-mail to Moveon.org members asking them to contact Scott’s office comes a day before a deadline set by the Justice Department last week telling Scott’s administration that the scrub appears to violate at least two federal elections laws. The Department of Justice gave Secretary of State Ken Detzner until tomorrow to tell them whether he will comply. Detzner and Scott gave no indication that would halt the program, and elections supervisors last week said they would drop the effort until the feds and Scott – or a court – resolve the issue.

“We have just 24 hours to make sure Governor Rick Scott stops his all-out assault on Florida’s Latino voters. It’s the worst attack on voting rights in the country,” the e-mail from Moveon.org organizer Garlin Gilchrist II begins.

In April, Detzner sent Florida’s 67 elections supervisors a list of more than 2,600 “non-citizens” culled from a grand list of more than 183,000 flagged by matching the state voter registration database with driver’s license records. The supervisors found that the list was riddled with errors. U.S.-born voters – including at least one Brooklyn-born war hero – and naturalized citizens were among those flagged. Many of the names on the list are Hispanic.

“We have to stop Governor Scott today—he is embarrassing Florida and corrupting the electoral process. His reckless acts have local and national implications. So let’s ring his office’s phones off the hook until he stops his racially-targeted attack on voting rights,” Gilchrist’s message goes on. “Will you call Gov. Scott right now? Tell him, ‘Stop illegally purging Florida voters.’ Here’s where to call. Governor Rick Scott:
(850) 488-7146.”

Federal judge blocks ‘harsh and impractical’ Florida voter registration restrictions

Thursday, May 31st, 2012 by Dara Kam

A federal judge has issued an injunction barring enforcement of part of Florida’s controversial new election law, ruling that a 48-hour deadline for third party groups to turn in voter registration forms is “harsh and impractical.”

Tallahassee federal Judge Robert Hinkle left intact much of the rest of the law, passed by the GOP-controlled legislature and signed by Gov. Rick Scott last year. Portions of that law are also being challenged in federal court in Washington.

The new law and associated rule “impose burdensome record-keeping and reporting requirements that serve little if any purpose, thus rendering them unconstitutional” even if they do not violate the National Voting Rights Act, Hinkle wrote in a 27-page ruling issued today.

The League of Women Voters filed the lawsuit against former Secretary of State Kurt Browning last year after the law went into effect. The league said the new law forced them to stop voter registration drives in Florida after more than seven decades because of the onerous time requirements punishable by up to $1,000 in fines. A variety of other groups, including the ACLU of Florida, joined the lawsuit.

In granting the preliminary injunction, Hinkle ruled that “the plaintiffs are likely to prevail on the merits of their challenge” to some of the provisions of the law and the rules and that voter registration was “working well” before the law was changed last year. Republican lawmakers insisted the new law was designed to discourage fraud.

But Hinkle, wrote, “allowing responsible organizations to conduct voter-registration drives—thus making it easier for citizens to register and vote—promotes democracy.”

Fla Dems edge out Republicans in voter registrations last month

Friday, April 13th, 2012 by Dara Kam

Florida Democrats are picking up steam heading into the general election, beating the GOP in lassoing new voters last month by 8 percent, according to data released by the Florida Democratic Party today.

Registered Democrats in Florida now total 4,955,094 – 40 percent of Florida’s 12,328,235 registered voters – as of April 1, holding a 4 percent lead of the GOP, with 4,408,461 registered voters. Twenty-four percent – 2,964,680 – of Floridians are registered with no party affiliation. And independents grew by a larger percentage than either party last month, with 41 percent of new voters, or 23,333, shunning both the GOP and the Dems.

While the Democrats are crowing about the new registration numbers, they’re still down overall from earlier this year. Figures released by the Division of Elections in January showed 40.5 percent of Floridians registered as Democrats and about 36.2 percent as Republicans.

And Democrats still hold a smaller lead over Republicans than four years ago, when the gap favored Democrats by 5.8 percent heading into the 2008 presidential elections.

But that didn’t stop Democratic party officials from bragging about the March registrations.

“The Republicans’ Tea Party extremism and their continued assault on women and the middle class is turning off Florida voters,” FDP executive director Scott Arceneaux said in a press release. “The Democratic message of economic fairness and helping businesses create jobs — coupled with our strong grassroots organizing across the state — set the stage for us to out-register Republicans yet again and maintain our overall registration advantage. Florida Democrats are entering the general election season strong.”

More Hispanics, the subject of intense outreach by the GOP, also registered as Democrats in March, beating out Republicans by 46 to 17 percent.

ACLU takes on Florida’s new elections law; Scott says drug tests OK

Thursday, June 2nd, 2011 by John Kennedy

Only a day after suing Gov. Rick Scott over his executive order requiring drug testing of state employees, the ACLU looked poised Thursday to fire another legal challenge his way — this time over the state’s new elections law.

A pair of Tampa Democrats, Sen. Arthenia Joyner and Rep. Janet Cruz are expected to join ACLU executive director Howard Simon and others Friday in announcing the latest effort, aimed at slowing down the implementation of HB 1355.

The legislation has been criticized by Democrats in Florida and across the nation for imposing tough standards on voter registration organizations, while making it more difficult for voters to cast ballots after they move from one county to another.

Scott, meanwhile, said he is confident the ACLU’s challenge to his ordering random drug testing of state workers.

“It’s common sense,” Scott said. “The private sector does it. They do it to make sure they have a productive workforce. So we should be doing it at the state. It makes all the sense in the world. It’s constitutional.”

Elections rewrite taking shape in Senate

Wednesday, May 4th, 2011 by John Kennedy

A rewrite of elections law in the nation’s largest presidential toss-up state edged closer to completion Wednesday, with the Senate moving closer to the House on a package derided by Democrats and vote-gathering organizations.

The Senate positioned the legislation (CS/HB 1355) by adding some of its early voting priorities to a measure that puts tight restrictions on so-called third party voter organizations — making the League of Women Voters, unions, the NAACP and others submit lists of prospective new voters to elections supervisors within 48 hours, or face $1,000 fines.

The Senate had earlier proposed shortening the time allowed for early voting. But Wednesday, Sen. Don Gaetz, R-Niceville, came up with what he cast as a compromise that would maintain the current 96-hours of early voting allowed, but shorten the number of days available to vote before Election Day.

Gaetz’s provision — adopted by the Senate — would reduce the current two-week early voting period to 10 days, but extend the daily hours. The full measure still awaits a Senate vote — and must return to the House, which is likely to accept the changes.

County elections supervisors have questioned the change. Palm Beach County Elections Supervisor Susan Bucher estimated the changes could cost county taxpayers $941,000, by forcing officials to open more early voting locations and pay poll-worker overtime costs.

The measure coming out of the Senate coincides with the House approach on allowing only voters who’ve moved within a county to cast regular ballots at their new precincts on Election Day. Voters who’ve relocated from another county, but haven’t changed their registrations, could cast only provisional ballots in their new counties.

Democrats argue the change will make it harder for Democratic-leaning college students to cast ballots.   Some counties also tend to eliminate substantial numbers of provisional ballots because voters cannot submit proof that they’re eligible voters, opponents said.

Ruling Republicans, however, have argued that the changes are only designed to stamp out voter fraud and assure that only eligible voters cast ballots.

Florida political tweeters
Video: Politics stories
Categories
Archives