Today, the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, Inc. (LDF) submitted written testimony to the Florida Senate Committee on Appropriations expressing opposition to S.B. 524, a harmful elections bill that would likely restrict access to the ballot box for voters of color. S.B. 524 would make several harmful changes to Florida’s election laws. Similar to Proposed Committee Bill (PCB) PIE 22-03, S.B. 524 would create the “Office of Election Crimes and Security,” a new law enforcement entity that would have the power to conduct investigations into alleged voting irregularities. The office would be housed within the Department of State and include an increased number of sworn special agents from the Department of Law Enforcement who would become “special officers to investigate alleged violations of the election laws” with the authority “to see that violators of the laws are apprehended and punished.” Considering the long history of law enforcement in Florida serving directly or indirectly as a tool of voter intimidation and the absence of any widespread wrongdoing by voters in Florida’s past elections, the proposal raises serious concerns of voter intimidation and a potential chilling effect on political participation.
The bill would also drastically increase the aggregate cap on fines that can be levied against third-party voter registration organizations. These groups provide a critical service to Florida voters, and this measure would potentially expose these groups to exorbitant fines and chill their engagement in constitutionally protected issues. Another measure in the bill would ban the use of ranked-choice voting in any local, state, or federal election despite the fact that ranked-choice voting is not currently in use anywhere in the state. The bill would also heighten restrictions on absentee voting, increase voter purge activities, and solicit sensitive information from voters by mail.
Read the full letter here.
Founded in 1940, the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, Inc. (LDF) is the nation’s first civil and human rights law organization. LDF has been completely separate from the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) since 1957—although LDF was originally founded by the NAACP and shares its commitment to equal rights. LDF’s Thurgood Marshall Institute is a multi-disciplinary and collaborative hub within LDF that launches targeted campaigns and undertakes innovative research to shape the civil rights narrative. In media attributions, please refer to us as the NAACP Legal Defense Fund or LDF. Follow LDF on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook.