Voting groups pressure DOJ to reject Fla election law changes

TALLAHASSEE –Three non-partisan groups joined the growing chorus of groups that are asking the U.S. Department of Justice to reject changes that Gov. Rick Scott approved to Florida’s voting laws.

Fair Elections Legal Network (FELN), Florida Public Interest Research Group (FL PIRG), and Florida Institute for Reform and Empowerment sent a letter to DOJ asking them to reject the law, alleging that three specific changes were particularly damaging. Those changes include shortening the number of days for early voting, placing new regulations on third-party voter registration groups and ending a long standing practice where voters can change their registration at the polls.

“African American and Latino voters will undoubtedly be worse off as a result of these changes,” says Denise Diaz, Board Member of the Florida Institute for Reform and Empowerment, in a press release. “By limiting the ability of groups like ours to conduct voter registration efforts, and restricting access to early voting and address updates, the new rules will make it harder for the communities we work with to register to vote, to vote, and to cast ballots that count.”

Five counties in Florida –Collier, Hardee, Hendry, Hillsborough and Monroe — face extra scrutiny by the federal government under the Voting Rights Act, meaning that changes to voting laws must undergo review by the federal government or the courts before they are put into practice. Florida state officials opted to enact the law in the remaining 62 counties while the Obama administration conducts its review.

The American Civil Liberties Union has filed a lawsuit to stop implementation of the law until DOJ makes its ruling.