Laura Markwardt, senior communications associate at the Alliance for Retired Americans, sends us this.
Hundreds of Florida seniors and others turned out for a rally in Tampa Friday against voter suppression. The rally was followed by a hearing inside the courthouse about the new law chaired by Illinois Sen. Dick Durbin who came to investigate whether the state law denies voters their constitutional rights. Durbin is chairman of the Senate Judiciary Subcommittee on the Constitution, Civil Rights and Human Rights.
Recent changes in Florida’s election rules will have a dramatic impact on Florida’s seniors and other voters. The new law passed in the Florida legislature cuts early voting from 14 days to seven days before the election, which hurts many seniors who vote early because they are physically unable to stand in a long line or make it to the polls on Election Day. Limiting the ability to vote early will indeed impact Florida’s seniors and will disproportionately affect African Americans, Latinos, working families and young voters.
Florida Alliance for Retired Americans President Tony Fransetta spoke at the rally about his concerns about voter suppression saying,
The law is an effort to limit voter turnout – and it shouldn’t stand.
In addition to his senior peers, who will be severely impacted by the new law, Fransetta, a retired autoworker, Korean War veteran, and grandfather, expressed disgust that “our black brothers and sisters had their last day of voting taken away from them.” He was referring to the law’s elimination of early voting the Sunday before an election, which disproportionately impacts African American and
Hispanic voters, who make up the vast majority of those who vote the Sunday before an election.
The changes were made in the name of reducing voter fraud have less to do with fraud and more to do with restricting certain groups of people from voting. Between January 2008 and last March, for example, there have only been 31 election fraud cases being investigated – nationwide.
Florida Gov. Rick Scott, who signed the bill into law and is one of its most popular supporters, did not accept an invitation to speak at the hearing on Friday.
Sen. Durbin (Chair of the Senate Judiciary Subcommittee on the Constitution, Civil Rights and Human Rights) said in a statement after the Florida hearing:
Over 30 states have new or pending changes to current voting laws. States seeking to change their laws have passed or proposed provisions that significantly reduce the number of early voting days, require voters to show restrictive forms of photo identification before voting and make it harder for volunteer organizations to register new voters. Supporters of these laws argue that they will reduce the risk of voter fraud. The overwhelming evidence, however, indicates that voter fraud is virtually non-existent and that these new laws will make it harder for hundreds of thousands of elderly, disabled, minority, young, rural, and low-income Americans to exercise their right to vote.
Florida Sen. Bill Nelson said the law will have to be changed by the courts because the state legislature would not do it.
The Florida Alliance for Retired Americans and countless advocacy groups in the state will continue to push for justice and the reversal of the law.