Yesterday, the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, Inc. (LDF), Giffords Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence, League of Women Voters of Florida, and Common Cause Florida sent a letter to Florida Attorney General Ashley Moody, urging her to publicly remind Floridians that voter intimidation is a violation of federal and state laws, particularly in light of recent disturbing reports of efforts to threaten or otherwise deter voters from making their own decisions at the polls.
In calling on the Attorney General to make a clear statement against voter intimidation in Florida, the letter highlights media and U.S. Intelligence reports that just this week indicated that numerous Floridians received emails threatening that the Proud Boys, an extremist far-right group, will “come after” voters who do not cast their ballots for a particular candidate—though in reality, voters’ ballots are kept secret. This troubling news comes on the heels of other reports of potential voter intimidation in the state, including hostile and confrontational demonstrations outside of early voting locations and a Miami police officer in uniform wearing a mask bearing the logo of a political candidate at one such location.
“It is critical that Attorney General Moody mirror the leadership of Attorneys General in Michigan, Wisconsin, Massachusetts, Virginia, and other states by unequivocally affirming to Floridians that voter intimidation is a serious federal and state crime, given these concerning incidents,” said Anne Houghtaling, Deputy Director of LDF’s Thurgood Marshall Institute (TMI). “As we approach Election Day, illegal and coercive tactics such as those already reported are likely to escalate and voters in Florida and across the rest of the country have the right to feel safe and secure while casting their ballots.”
“Floridians should not be subjected to intimidation of any kind when exercising their constitutional right to vote. We call on state officials to take any such behavior extremely seriously,” said Patti Brigham, President of the League of Women Voters of Florida. “Our voters deserve to know they will be safe when casting their ballots.”
“As Election Day approaches, the potential for openly carried firearms at locations where votes are being cast or tallied creates a serious risk of disenfranchising Americans, particularly Black and Brown voters,” said Allison Anderman, Senior Counsel at Giffords Law Center. “It is critical that state and local officials overseeing the elections process take any and all necessary precautions to mitigate this risk. Giffords Law Center is proud to participate in this coordinated effort to inform states of their rights and obligations to protect the vote from armed voter intimidation.”
“Our democracy depends on voters being able to cast ballots without fear or intimidation,” said Liza McClenaghan, State Chair of Common Cause Florida. “Floridians count on our elected officials to ensure that the atmosphere at the polling place is one that is conducive to that thoughtful engagement.”
Read the 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.