Florida has a longstanding history and ongoing record of racial discrimination in voting and beyond. In the last ten years alone, Florida has passed several anti-voter laws and actively targeted fair and transparent democracy.
Florida can make history by enacting the Harry T. and Harriette V. Moore Voting Rights Act of Florida (SB 1522 / HB 1035, “FLVRA”) which would be only the second State Voting Rights Act in the South. The FLVRA would strengthen democracy for everyone in the Sunshine state and remove numerous obstacles to the ballot box that eligible voters of color currently face, and that have burdened voting rights throughout the state’s troubled history.
The FLVRA builds on the foundations of the federal Voting Rights Act of 1965, as well as successful state Voting Rights Acts enacted in New York, Connecticut, California, Oregon, Washington, and Virginia. If enacted, the FLVRA would become the most comprehensive state Voting Rights Acts in the nation.
Florida voters of color face severe racial discrimination in voting. Anti-voter laws and government decisions continue to result in racial disparities in voter registration and voter turnout. Anti-voter laws have also created barriers to every step of the voting process, including restrictions on drop boxes, restrictions on vote-by-mail, a ranked choice voting ban, restrictions on election funding, and harsh penalties on organizations conducting community voter registration. Returning citizens, who had their right to vote restored by Amendment 4 to the Florida Constitution, are now left to discern whether they have paid all outstanding financial obligations specified within a sentencing document before registering to vote.
Conditions that can foster voting discrimination — such as unfairly drawn districts that weaken Black and Brown voting power, inaccessible polling locations, insufficient language assistance for voters who don’t speak English, and outright voter intimidation — endure throughout Florida. And many of Florida’s counties and cities use at-large election structures or district maps that impair the ability of voters of color to elect candidates of their choice or influence the outcome of elections.
The continued and escalating threats of racial discrimination in voting in Florida make this a perilous time for our democracy. The Florida Voting Rights Act would go a long way to counteract both recent and historical efforts to diminish the voting power of Black Floridians. Florida can and should lead in protecting the right to vote and promoting inclusive democracy by adopting the Florida Voting Rights Act.
State VRAS can provide key protections to their constituents that prevent and guard against discriminatory voting practices and policies. Learn more about LDF’s work to advance state VRAs
LDF Original Content
A tandem approach of restoring and expanding federal voting rights legislation along with passing individual state VRAs is essential for providing the most robust voting protections for all voters.
Filed in 2021, the lawsuit argues that S.B. 90 creates unnecessary barriers and burdens that disproportionately impact Black and Latinx voters, and voters with disabilities.
2020 saw a dramatic increase in attempts to suppress the vote of Black, Latinx, and other minority-community voters. Democracy Defended captures and analyzes LDF’s work during the 2020 election season, including our Prepared to Vote and Voting Rights Defender initiatives. It provides documentation of barriers faced by Black voters in PTV/VRD focus states and solutions for policy makers, election administrators, and community members to implement to ensure fair access to the vote in future elections.