#InaugurationDay2021: Florida Voting Rights & How to Take Action
by Lakey Love, January 20, 2021 - The Good, the Bad, & the Ugly of Florida 2021 Voting Rights & Election Bills and How You Can Help
TALLAHASSEE, FL - Nothing is more fundamental to democracy than fair elections and the right to vote. Which is precisely the reason those who promote corporate control fight so hard against it. The historical legacy of white supremacist groups and the use of corporate dark money influence to shut down voting rights and disrupt democratic election processes were amped up throughout the 2020 election. President Donald Trump was joined by the Koch brothers' dark money backed Honest Elections Project in a strategically planned attack on voting rights across the nation. Trump’s own lies about election fraud culminated in his support of an armed insurrection at the Capitol Building that has continued to rock the nation.
In Florida, Honest Elections Project facilitated a letter to election officials in February of 2020 accusing the state of bloated voting rolls in 34 counties and threatened to bring civil action. After the election results came in November, Florida’s Governor Ron DeSantis and Florida Congressman Matt Gaetz joined Trump’s campaign to overturn the election resultsand Florida Senator Rick Scott voted to overturn the certified Electoral College votes in Pennsylvania. In 2019, DeSantis signed into law a piece of legislation put forward by Republicans in the Florida Legislature that “gutted the biggest voting rights victory” (Amendment 4) in recent US history despite the fact that 65% of Florida voters approved of the constitutional amendment to give back the right to vote to people with felony convictions.
It is clear that the conservative majority leadership in Florida backs voting restrictions and is promoting anti-democratic corruption at the highest levels. That same leadership has put forward HJR61, “Percentage of Elector Votes Required to Approve Constitutional Amendment or Revision” to increase the percentage of elector votes necessary to pass a Florida constitutional amendment. This will make it even harder for Floridians to create law through public vote and Florida’s constitutional amendment process is already one of the most difficult and expensive in the nation. Those who have worked to “crowd source” votes to get an amendment on ballot and get it passed know it takes hundreds of volunteer hours, and millions of dollars, to do so. This is because of bills like HJR61. This type of legislation raises the bar and limits what average Floridians can do to get law passed through direct vote. All these restrictions and limitations make it so that only the top 1% can promote and pass their agenda. That's why it is not a coincidence that Representative Rick Roth, the sponsor of HJR61, is a known American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) legislator who is backed by corporate dark money for his agenda. ALEC and the conservative corporate backed right don't want the public to have a direct vote. They keep power by inserting themselves and their dark money to block true democracy.
Thats why FLPAN needs you to act. Sign up HERE for FLPAN’s "HJR61 Action Team" to stay up to date and take action to stop Rep. Roth's bill.
The good news is that a few Florida legislators have put forward progressive legislation that backs voting rights and accelerates democracy through the elections process. Representative Geraldine Thompson (D-44) has filed HB103 “Elections”, an election reform bill, that would amend the state statues to: 1) require that the Secretary of State be elected rather than appointed, 2) allow for same day registration and voting, 3) allow vote-by-mail ballots to be postmarked up to the date of the election and counted until 10 days after the election, 4) require postage for mail-in ballots to be paid for by the supervisor of elections offices, 5) established paid leave for election day and create Election Day as a paid holiday, and 6) prohibit polling places to be located in a gated community.
In order for HB103 to gain traction it must get put on the agenda for a public hearing at the three committees it has been assigned to in the House. Please help support HB103 through easy action by clicking THIS LINK to email the committee chairs and ask them to put the bill on their next committee agenda.
If we are going to take back Florida’s democracy for the people it must be done by the people and cannot be done without voting rights protection and election reform.
Florida Policy Action Network combines movement research, public policy analysis, and citizen supported advocacy and action to change the way elected officials in Florida debate issues and create policy that directly impacts the states most marginalized and oppressed. To get more involved please SUBSCRIBE to our updates and donate at https://www.flpan.org.