Right now in Florida, a battle is raging over the voting rights of several thousand Floridians. State officials there want to throw them off the voting rolls, claiming they are not citizens. But county elections officials are refusing to comply, saying they don’t trust the government’s list. Indeed, out of a list of 2,700 names, only 40 had been identified as non-citizens. So far, more than 500 who are on the government’s list actually have been identified as citizens, with full voting rights.
Florida officials, like so many state lawmakers across the nation have devised a solution to a problem that doesn’t exist – and in the process, are creating a huge problem. The constitutionally-protected rights of eligible voters – most of them minorities, senior citizens, students, service members and the disabled – are being shoved aside by restrictive voter ID laws, shrinking poll hours and unnecessary barriers to registration.
It’s no accident that voter suppression efforts target the very same people who stand to lose the most in the ongoing effort to dismantle the social safety net.
Legislation pending in Congress could go a long way toward reversing this dangerous trend. We support the Voter Empowerment Act, a comprehensive remedy to modernize registration, protect equal access to the ballot box and prohibit deceptive practices that keep people from voting. Find out more at our Occupy The Vote elections center