NAACP Florida State Conference Opposes Florida Voter Suppression Bill Passed by the State House

Legislation Would Disenfranchise Florida Voters by Restricting Registration, Cutting Early Voting Opportunities and Severely Limiting Non-Partisan Voter Registration Activities

(Baltimore, MD.) – The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) announced support for the NAACP Florida State Conference in its strong opposition to HB1355/SB2086, a bill that, if enacted, will disproportionately disenfranchise racial and ethic minorities, women, the working poor, and young voters among others.

“This bill is a blatant and malicious attack on the voting rights of Florida’s citizens,” remarked NAACP President and CEO Benjamin Todd Jealous. “It is unthinkable that the Florida House would pass a bill that unduly suppresses participation in the electoral process for voters that most need to have their voices heard.”

The legislation seeks to restrain voting rights on multiple fronts. First, the bill would limit voters to only casting provisional ballots if they wish to change their address or name at the polls.

Adora Obi Nweze, President of the Florida State Conference NAACP and member of the NAACP Board of Directors, notes that this radical change will have an overwhelmingly negative effect on minority participation in upcoming elections. “This bill forces young voters and the working poor – two groups whose residences often change because of economic circumstances – to cast provisional ballots which are much less likely to be counted even when they are valid,” stated Adora Obi Nweze, President of the Florida State Conference of the NAACP.

Second, HB1355/SB2086 would half the amount of days available for early voting from 13 to 5. More than 2.6 million people voted early in the 2008 elections.

“Even with 13 days available for early voting in 2008, lines on Election Day were exceptionally long with waits at the polls up to 8 hours,” said Leon Russell, Chairman of the Political Action Committee of the Florida State Conference of the NAACP, and Vice Chair of the NAACP National Board of Directors, “If early voting is reduced to just 5 days, waiting times at Florida polling sites could double or triple by the 2012 election and potential voters could become frustrated and prevented from casting their ballots.”

Additionally, the bill seeks to inhibit voter registration efforts by non-partisan community based organizations by increasing the amount of information to be filed with the election board and limiting the number of days to submit the information from 10 to 2. This not only curtails voter registration and participation in Florida, but also creates an additional and unnecessary burden on an already overly taxed election system.

“Clearly, rather than protect voter’s rights, some legislators have instead chosen to suppress voter opportunity, thereby undercutting the very integrity of our democratic electoral system” noted Russell.

The Florida State Conference NAACP has put out a call to action to its members to contact their Senators in opposition to the bill, which is currently being considered by the Senate Budget committee.

“Every voter needs to know that their right to vote and our democratic system are in jeopardy if this bill is allowed to become law,” said Obi Nweze.

Founded in 1909, the NAACP is the nation's oldest and largest civil rights organization. Its members throughout the United States and the world are the premier advocates for civil rights in their communities, conducting voter mobilization and monitoring equal opportunity in the public and private sectors.

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