Legislative Black Caucus Calls on Scott to Halt Voter Suppression
State Senator Arthenia Joyner (D-Tampa), Chair, Florida Legislative Black Caucus on Monday called on Republican Governor Rick Scott to heed the recent federal court ruling preserving early voting in Florida’s 5 protected counties, and halt the voter suppression efforts still underway in the rest of the state by restoring early voting to its previous time period throughout Florida.
“The Court found that implementation of the 2011 election law would disproportionately affect African American voters in these five counties. If that would occur in five counties, then there is a high likelihood of active voter suppression in Florida’s remaining 62 counties,” said Joyner who currently chairs the Florida Legislative Black Caucus and travelled to Tallahassee to meet with the governor. “I call on Governor Scott to stop his party’s blatant attempt to influence an election by denying a fundamental right black and white Floridians have fought and died for.”
At issue is the governor’s adherence to a 2011 Republican-sponsored change in Florida’s elections law that reduced early voting days by half. The move came 3 years after the 2008 election in which Barack Obama not only won Florida, but the White House, propelled in part by record voter turnout among blacks casting early voting ballots. In fact, the lines were so long in some African American communities that Scott’s predecessor was compelled to issue an executive order extending early voting to accommodate the historical demand.
“Targeting early voting had only one purpose: to stack the deck in a presidential election by limiting minority turnout and Democratic votes at the polls,” said Joyner, who has been part of ongoing litigation fighting the election law changes. The governor needs to acknowledge the obvious: it would be amoral to address voter suppression in 5 counties and ignore the exact same misconduct in the remaining 62 counties.
“The Florida Legislative Black Caucus calls on the governor to immediately act to restore the full early voting time period throughout the entire state and commit to expanding hours even further through Executive Order if the limited hours are unable to suitably accommodate Floridians who seek to early vote.”