Democrats have a long and proud history of fighting for voting rights that continues to this day. One of the most important rights of American citizens is the right to vote—the right to have a say in who our leaders are and how our government should work. But the path to full voting rights for all American citizens was long and often challenging, and for far too many people, obstacles to voting remain even today.
The expansion of voting rights did not happen overnight; it was the product of a continued struggle by many people over many years. To this day, many voters still face difficulties at the polls, from registering to casting a ballot to having their votes counted. Those particularly vulnerable are minority, young, elderly, poor, and disabled voters, as well as military members and veterans. And in many parts of the country, voters are underserved by a lack of polling places, outdated voting machines, and unnecessarily complicated laws.
With the recent Supreme Court decision to discontinue the Voting Rights Act of 1965 Floridians are left without Federal protections to ensure voter suppression laws are not being implemented. It now becomes more important than ever that Democrats be vigilant in their position of ensuring access to all Floridians to the voting booth. Broward Democrats are committed to giving as many people the opportunity to legally cast a ballot as possible, regardless of their party affiliation.
In the elections of 2012, Florida Republicans made a concerted effort to suppress the vote of many in Florida for their own political gain. In an exclusive report by the Palm Beach Post, several prominent Florida Republicans admitted that election law changes were geared toward suppressing minority and Democratic votes. Republicans used their control of the State Government through a variety of tactics.
2012 Voter Suppression in Florida
- Limitations were placed on what type of locations could be used as polling places.
- There were fewer early voting days, traditionally used more by Democrats.
- Sunday early voting days were discontinued, traditionally used by African American church groups.
- The lack of early voting contributed to some of the longest lines and waits in the Country, undoubtedly discouraging many from casting a ballot at all. NY Times Infographic: How Long it Took Different Groups to Vote
- Republicans also enacted laws and policies which erroneously purged voter rolls, a tactic that Governor Scott has resumed for 2014 elections.
- Limitations were placed on registering people for voting.
- Laws were passed that made it harder for young and more transient people to register and vote.
- It became harder for felons to have their right to vote reinstated.
- Despite the Fair District Law that was passed by a State-wide ballot initiative, gerrymandering continued to protect those in power.
We are making progress, but we won’t stop working to promote a system of elections that is accessible, open, and fair—a system that ensures that every eligible person can cast a vote and that every lawfully cast vote is counted.
“My personal experiences in Florida in recent elections testify to a simple fact: Voter suppression remains a serious threat to civil rights in 21st Century America. Marathon voting lines for low-income and minority groups, reduced early voting hours, voter purges, and voter registration restrictions, remain endemic. While our nation has made progress since the passage of the Voting Rights Act, voter discrimination remains a reality, “said Congresswoman Wilson.
“Congress must act to preserve the provisions at the heart of the Voting Rights Act. This is not a Democratic or Republican issue; it’s not a white or black issue; it’s an issue that’s central to safeguarding the fundamental rights of each and every American. 390 Members of the House of Representatives, 98 Senators, and President George W. Bush all acknowledged this fact in 2006 when they came together to reauthorize the law.
I will work with my colleagues on both sides of the aisle to restore the core protections offered by the Voting Rights Act. ”