Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Citizen Groups Urge Legislative Leaders to Halt Voter Suppression Bills

On Monday, FHCA attended a press conference during which numerous nonpartisan public interest organizations called upon Florida Speaker of the House Larry Cretul and Senate President Jeff Atwater to prevent two election bills from reaching the floor of the state legislature’s chambers. The groups stated the legislation (SB 956/HB 7149) passed despite the lack of opportunity for public input and also objected to the bills’ content.

Among the public interest groups calling for defeat of the bill during Monday’s press conference were the League of Women Voters, AARP, AFL-CIO, NAACP, Advocacy Center for Persons with Disabilities and Miami-Dade Election Reform Coalition. Joining them were more than a dozen Democratic legislators who cited a critical New York Times editorial titled "Suppressing the Vote in Florida."

FHCA is particularly concerned about the proposed changes to Florida’s voting and elections laws outlined in SB 956, which further limits acceptable IDs for voter registration and identification at the polls. Retirement center identification would no longer be valid with this bill, which is likely to disenfranchise many elderly voters, including those in nursing homes, who no longer have a driver’s license. Additionally, the bill eliminates the only free forms of ID that are currently valid and proposes no acceptable alternatives. Several FHCA member nursing homes currently serve as election polling places, and the limitations that SB 956 imposes on acceptable IDs would prohibit facility residents from the ability to exercise their right to vote in person.

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