Florida Democrats discuss legislative game plan after GOP blocks federal voting rights bill


Congressional Democrats may have stumbled last week when Senate Republicans blocked the Freedom to vote: John R. Lewis Actbut the fight is far from over, according to the US representative. Lois Frankelsays the senator. Tina Polski and others.

During a Zoom press conference on Monday, attendees highlighted the importance of federal legislation, which passed the US House last year but stalled in the Senate. They also highlighted state bills that could further ease voting access in Florida.

“There are so many good things about our country, but for me, something that trumps everything is that when you are an eligible voter and you can vote, your vote can add as much as no one’s. anyone else,” Frankel said. . “It’s interesting. (Authorities in) the whole country said the 2020 election was fair. And even our attorney general at the time, Bill Barre, said there was no fraud. (But) Republican legislatures across the country, including here in Florida, have enacted laws that we believe endanger the right to vote.

Such a measure (SB 90), that the governor Ron DeSantis signed into law at a Fox News press conference in Mayincreased barriers to mail-in voting and a limited number of people who can distribute items, including food and water, to people queuing to vote in person, among other restrictions.

“These are unnecessary changes that have been made to the law,” Polsky said. “What really happened, from a political standpoint, was for the first time the Democrats beat the Republicans in a mail-in vote. And suddenly the original bill was to require someone to register to vote by mail every year. This was eventually changed to now every two years, but that was four years ago. And it was good when Republicans voted more by ballot. correspondence. Now the Democrats are. They want to make it a lot harder, create a barrier as much as they can.

This legislative session, Polsky is sponsoring SB 1586which would allow people to confirm on their current mail-in ballot that they wish to continue voting by mail the following year and would require special elections to be held within 180 days of a vacancy occurring.

representing Ben Diamond of St. Petersburg introduced the bill Home version.

DeSantis did not move set dates for elections to replace the U.S. Representative. Alcaeus Hastingsdied in April, until trial asked a judge to compel him to act. Some analysis has revealed that the time between Hastings’ death and the start of early voting to replace him on New Year’s Day 2022 was represented longest congressional vacancy in U.S. history.

Elections to replace three state lawmakers who resigned to run for the Hastings seat in July did not take place until this month.

“We went nine months without holding an election, to the contradiction of our local election supervisors,” Polsky said. “Currently, there are two State House districts and one Senate district that are unrepresented in session. This means no one is working on credits for their towns except those of us who hired them to help out. There is no one representing nearly 70,000 people in the state of Florida, all because the governor decided to play politics and call special elections much later than they were supposed to. to be.

Abdelilah Skhirvoting rights policy strategist for the American Civil Liberties Union, and Rich Bartholomewmember of the Voting Rights Coalition and the Palm Beach County League of Women Voters, also participated in the virtual presser.

Skhir pointed to other “common sense measures” running through the legislature.

There are SB 368 by senator Lori Berman of Delray Beach, which would allow Floridians to choose to be automatically registered to vote when they get their motor vehicle registration — a process known as “motor voting.”

There is also HB 1353 by Rep. Geraldine Thompson of Windermere, which would also allow the registration of motorized voters. In addition, Thompson’s bill allows same-day voter registration, requires unregistered voters to be notified of their status by mail, and changes the role of Florida’s secretary of state to an elected position.

Sen. Annette Taddeo from Miami, which is run to knock down DeSantis in November, filed a Senate Version of the bill this month.

“At a time when states across the country are creating deliberate barriers to voting, Florida can and should lead by example in protecting our freedom to vote,” Skhir said. “By passing these bills, we can finally deliver on the promise of democracy for Floridians.”

Last year, 49 states across the country introduced more than 440 voting restrictions. Nineteen states, including Florida, Texas and Georgia, passed 34 of these bills in the law.

Earlier this month, the U.S. House of Representatives passed the Free Suffrage Act and a measure named after the late Rep. john lewis of Georgia to thwart the new laws. The bill, which the House combined into one invoicethen went to the Senate.

The measure would set national standards for ballot access. Among its changes: establishing Election Day as a public holiday, setting a mandatory period of 15 consecutive days of early voting, requiring all voters to be able to access voting-by-mail provisions, and creating new automatic voter registration programs.

The bill would also restore aspects of the historic Voting Rights Act of 1965 – which the U.S. Supreme Court gutted in 2013 – including a requirement that the US Department of Justice or federal courts must approve vote changes in jurisdictions with a history of discrimination.

Senate Republicans blocked passage of the bill on January 19, with all 50 Republicans voting against the bill. In a separate vote, the Democratic senator. Joe Manchin of West Virginia and Kirsten Sinema of Arizona sided with Republicans in defeating a motion by Democrats to change Senate rules so that a simple majority could pass the bill.

Senate Majority Leader chuck schumer then voted with Republicans on the voting rights bill for a vote of 51 to 49 in an effort to allow the bill to be reconsidered later.

The House passed several other bills that “remained in the Senate” awaiting review, Frankel said.

Monday marked the 58th anniversary of the 24th Amendment to the US Constitution, eliminating discriminatory poll tax. As Americans still celebrate the passage of the amendment today, Frankel said, it is also a reminder that no law is set in stone.

“You can’t turn your back and think all the rights are there forever,” she said. “We see voting rights threatened today as never before.”

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