PFAW Urges Florida Legislature to Reject Restrictive Registration and Voter ID Rules

Bill would ban ID frequently used by seniors, force voters who have recently moved to vote on ballots that often go uncounted, and make it harder for groups registering voters

Tallahassee, FL—With two weeks left in the legislative session, members of the Florida Legislature are working hard to pass a bill that could suppress the vote of hundreds of thousands of Florida voters, and criminalize well-meaning activists who want to bring more people to the polls. The bill, SB 956, would ban retirement center and neighborhood association ID cards that are currently accepted at the Florida polls; would force voters who have recently moved to vote by provisional ballots, which often go uncounted, instead of simply changing their address at the polls as they do now; and would make it harder for third-party groups and individuals registering voters by implementing rules requiring groups to turn in signed voter applications within 48 hours of the signature, which could impede groups' process of fixing incomplete registrations and ensuring that they are filed, as well as their accurate tracking of successful registrations.

Sharon Lettman, a registered Florida voter and Executive Vice President of External Affairs at People For the American Way, spoke out against the bill, and urged the legislature to work on real election reform that focuses on increasing access to the ballot for eligible voters:

"Republicans in the Florida legislature are trying desperately to ram through this unnecessary, controversial bill that will make it harder for hundreds of thousands of Floridians to vote. And this is coming just in time for a critical election next year for the Senate seat held by retiring Senator Mel Martinez. The unfair and arbitrary rules contained in SB 956 could make the difference in a close election. This isn't reform, its politics, pure and simple. For decades, civic organizations have registered voters and helped get out the vote in the state of Florida. These rules would mean fewer volunteers and fewer registrations, gutting voter registration in the state of Florida as we know it.

"We are solidly in favor of election reform in Florida and across the country. Unfortunately, we do not believe this bill is an effective remedy to the problems in the system, and instead may actually discourage eligible voters from going to the polls. We urge the legislature to go back to the drawing board. Let's begin a dialogue on real election reform to bring more voters to the polls, not conjuring up unnecessary hurdles that could keep their constituents away. Our country is stronger when more people do their civic duty and vote."

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