Florida Voting Laws Challenged by Justice Department

U. S. Attorney General Eric Holder has now voiced his opposition to Florida’s new voting laws that restricts voter registration drives and limits early voting.

According to reports, the Department of Justice filed court papers last week requesting a trial for new voting laws in Florida. The new laws could drastically disrupt the state’s primary election schedule. Mr. Holder said that Florida has not met its burden on behalf of its covered counties, that the two sets of proposed voting changes are entitled to preclearance under Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act.

Florida is one of more than a dozen states that have passed recent legislation that requires voters to show state-issued photo identification at the polls, places restrictions on third-party voter registration groups such as the League of Women Voters, who, bcause of the new laws, are no longer pushing early voting.

One of the things that will truly affect voters is the requirement for a state ID. When applying for a state drivers license or ID, a female, for example, must show every name change from birth. So suppose you are an elderly lady and
have had more than one husband. You were born a Jones but now is a Johnson because you have lost three husbands. In this situation, you must provide proof of every name change since birth. This will require you to pay marriage and
death record fees. A serious disadvantage for a 70 year old.

The new regulations in Florida impose burdensome administrative requirements, onerously tight deadlines and heavy penalties for mishandling or not turning in voter registration forms on time. In addition, individuals who help people register to vote must be certified by the state and must submit each completed voter registration form within 48 hours as opposed to the 10 days previously allowed. The risks under the new laws include fines and criminal charges.

Prior to the 2008 presidential election, many churches held “Souls to the Polls Campaigns.” In this situation, the church would take vans and buses with their members and other church attendees to the polling places on the Sunday before Election. This would be the last day for early voting. Now, under the new laws, early voting on the Sunday prior to election day has been eliminated.

In 2008, Florida’s large Black and Latino population went out in masses to vote. Now many voter registration drives have ceased because of the new laws.

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