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April 23, 2024
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In 2018, Kenia Flores, who is blind, voted by mail in North Carolina because she was attending college out of state. Had she been able to vote in person, she could have used an accessible machine. But voting absentee, her only option was to tell another person her choices and have them fill out her ballot. She had no way to verify what they did.

Dessa Cosma, who uses a wheelchair, arrived at her precinct in Michigan that year to find that all the voting booths were standing height. A poll worker suggested she complete her ballot on the check-in table and got annoyed when Ms. Cosma said she had a right to complete it privately. Another worker intervened and found a private space.

That night, Ms. Cosma — the executive director of Detroit Disability Power, where Ms. Flores is a voting access and election protection fellow — vented to the group’s advisory committee and discovered that “every one of them had a story about lack of ability to vote easily, and we all had different disabilities,” she said. “It made me realize, ‘Oh wow, even more than I realized, this is a significant problem.’”

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April 22, 2024
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ORLANDO, Fla. – A new form streamlines vote-by-mail ballot requests across Florida, and should now be available at all county supervisors of elections offices.

The Orange County Supervisor of Elections office said it had the new form available on Friday ahead of the state’s April 17 deadline to have the form available for voters. Before this form, different counties had different forms or ways to request.

The new form includes prompts for all the information you will need to make that request, including a voter’s Florida driver’s license number, identification card number or last four digits of their social security number.

If you have not requested a vote-by-mail ballot yet, you must fill out the new form through your county’s elections office, you can’t use an old version. The request is good for all elections this year and in 2025.

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April 17, 2024
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More than two years after lawmakers redrew the state’s legislative maps, a group of Tampa Bay-area residents Wednesday challenged the constitutionality of two Senate districts that they say “dilute” the power of Black voters.

Attorneys for five residents of Tampa and St. Petersburg filed a lawsuit in federal court in Tampa alleging that Senate District 16 and Senate District 18 are gerrymandered and violate constitutional equal-protection rights.

District 16, which is represented by Sen. Daryl Rouson, a Black Democrat from St. Petersburg, crosses Tampa Bay to include parts of Pinellas and Hillsborough counties. White Republican Nick DiCeglie of Indian Rocks Beach represents District 18, which is made up of part of Pinellas County.

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April 17, 2024
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WASHINGTON, D.C. — A federal judge in Florida yesterday struck down Miami’s city commission districts for being unconstitutional racial gerrymanders and ordered the implementation of a new map for future elections. 

The ruling stemmed from a federal lawsuit filed in 2022 by local organizations and individual residents alleging that the districts for Miami’s five-member city commission were “drawn along racial lines for the predominant purpose of maintaining racially segregated districts.” As the city’s governing body, the commission has the power to pass local laws, adopt regulations and more. 

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April 15, 2024
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Voting in Michigan will be easier for many people this fall than it was four years ago. There will be nine days of early voting. All mail ballots will have prepaid return postage. And every community will have at least one drop box for absentee ballots because of a measure adopted by voters with the support of the state’s top Democrats.

Those casting ballots in North Carolina, where Republicans enjoy a veto-proof legislative majority, will see dramatic changes in the opposite direction. For the first time in a presidential election, voters there will have to show an ID. More votes are expected to be thrown out because of new absentee ballot return deadlines. And courts will soon decide whether to allow a law to go into effect that would reshape the state’s elections boards and could result in fewer early-voting sites.

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April 5, 2024
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Floridians Protecting Freedom gathered petitions to put the constitutional amendment on the ballot.

Abortion rights will be on the Florida ballot in November.

The Florida Supreme Court has approved ballot language for a proposed constitutional amendment. The measure will appear as Amendment 4 on the ballot.

Of note, the court on the same day it approved the ballot language also upheld a state law barring most abortions 15 weeks into pregnancy, and then also triggered a new state law that, beginning in 30 days, will bar most abortions six weeks into a term.

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April 3, 2024
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Donald Trump’s takeover of the Republican Party has eviscerated the mail-in voting advantage party leaders spent two decades developing. Now, with the presidential primary season nearing its end, we have evidence that GOP legislators’ efforts to appease their king by making it more difficult to vote by mail aren’t helping their party and are hurting him. 

So, I wonder: Is this all part of Trump’s endgame? 

Before we get there, remember the 2022 Georgia Senate run-off, when Trump kept arguing that the election was rigged? Republican turnout dropped, and early and absentee ballots helped Democrats flip the seat with Raphael Warnock’s election.

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April 2, 2024
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Floridians Protecting Freedom gathered petitions to put the constitutional amendment on the ballot.

Abortion rights will be on the Florida ballot in November.

The Florida Supreme Court has approved ballot language for a proposed constitutional amendment. The measure will appear as Amendment 4 on the ballot.

Of note, the court on the same day it approved the ballot language also upheld a state law barring most abortions 15 weeks into pregnancy, and then also triggered a new state law that, beginning in 30 days, will bar most abortions six weeks into a term.

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April 2, 2024
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Plaintiffs and legal experts are previewing the status of the Hispanic Federation v. Byrd trial 

A federal trial is underway for a case that alleges Florida’s voter registration law infringes on political speech and civic engagement. 

The law, Senate Bill 7050, was passed in 2023, and it bans non-U.S. citizens from working or volunteering for third-party voter registration organizations(3PVROs).

The lawsuit was filed by the American Civil Liberties Union, ACLU of Florida, LatinoJustice PRLDEF, Dēmos, and Arnold & Porter on behalf of Hispanic Federation, Poder Latinx, and individual clients.

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April 2, 2024
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The 5-2 decision on Monday could open up a recreational marijuana market.

Eight years after Florida voters approved medical marijuana, they will have a chance to weigh in on recreational adult use.

The Florida Supreme Court gave its approval Monday to theAdult Personal Use of Marijuana citizen initiative, which could expand the current retail model beyond medical necessity, allowing visitors to the state and residents without qualifying conditions access to the product.

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April 1, 2024
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Floridians Protecting Freedom gathered petitions to put the constitutional amendment on the ballot.

Abortion rights will be on the Florida ballot in November.

The Florida Supreme Court has approved ballot language for a proposed constitutional amendment. The measure will appear as Amendment 4 on the ballot.

Of note, the court on the same day it approved the ballot language also upheld a state law barring most abortions 15 weeks into pregnancy, and then also triggered a new state law that, beginning in 30 days, will bar most abortions six weeks into a term.

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April 1, 2024
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On a special episode (first released on March 31, 2024) of The Excerpt podcast:

At the State of the Union, President Biden called on Congress to pass the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act. This bill would update the Voting Rights Act of 1965, strengthening legal protections against discriminatory voting policies and practices. The act has since been hampered by Supreme Court cases that removed pre-clearance provisions and made it harder to sue to stop discriminatory practices. Marc Elias, an attorney with Elias Law Group and an outspoken advocate of voter protection and fair elections, joins The Excerpt to talk about the challenges voters across the country are facing and describe his efforts to guarantee equal access to the ballot.

Hit play on the player below to hear the podcast and follow along with the transcript beneath it. This transcript was automatically generated, and then edited for clarity in its current form. There may be some differences between the audio and the text.

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March 29, 2024
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WASHINGTON, D.C. — On Monday, April 1, a bench trial will begin in a federal legal challenge to Florida’s latest omnibus voter suppression law, which was signed into law last May by Gov. Ron DeSantis (R).

Among many so-called “election integrity” provisions, the challenged law places limitations on voter assistance options for requesting a mail-in ballot and imposes burdensome requirements and penalties on third-party voter registration organizations (3PVROs) that engage and turn out eligible Floridians to vote.  

Immediately following the enactment of the sweeping anti-voting statute known as Senate Bill 7050, voting and civil rights groups filed three separate federal lawsuits challenging various aspects of the legislation.

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March 27, 2024
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Wisconsin for the first time this year will begin requiring political advertisers to disclose the use of content generated by artificial intelligence or face financial penalties. But the battleground state, one that played a critical role in the last two elections, is not alone. 

An increasing number of states have advanced A.I.-related legislation to combat attempts to mislead voters during the 2024 election, according to a new analysis by the Voting Rights Lab, a national voting rights organization. 

Voting Rights Lab said it was tracking over 100 bills in 40 state legislatures, amid some high-profile cases of “deep-fake” video technology and computer-generated avatars and voices being used in political campaigns and advertisements.

One of the more glaring examples happened in New Hampshire, where a criminal investigation was opened after voters there received robocalls mimicking President Biden’s voice and urging Democrats to not vote in the state’s primary in January.

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March 26, 2024
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The guidelines were first established in 2022 after reports of election worker threats and potential poll worker interference.

The Brennan Center for Justice, along with the group All Voting is Local, has updated its guides for election officials in swing states aimed at blocking “rogue” poll workers from interfering in elections.

The new guide is an updated version of guidance issued in 2022 created in response to reports that election deniers who believed falsehoods about the outcome of the 2020 election were being recruited to work as poll workers across the country.

The updated guidance, which explains laws preventing intimidation, harassment and improper influence over voters, focuses on Arizona, Florida, Georgia, Michigan, Nevada, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin. Each guide is specifically written to include applicable state laws and other information aimed at ensuring a smooth, fair and free election process.

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March 25, 2024
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Georgia, with its long history of the suppression of Black voters, has been ground zero for fights about voting rights laws for decades. The state has often seen stark differences in turnout between white and nonwhite communities, with the latter typically voting at a much lower rate.

But not always: In the 2012 election, when Barack Obama won a second term in the White House, the turnout rate for Black voters under 38 in Lowndes County — a Republican-leaning county in southern Georgia — was actually four percentage points higher than the rate for white voters of a similar age.

It proved to be temporary. According to new research by Michael Podhorzer, the former political director of the A.F.L.-C.I.O., by 2020, turnout for younger white voters in Lowndes was 14 percentage points higher than for Black voters of the same age.

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March 21, 2024
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TALLAHASSEE — Gov. Ron DeSantis on Wednesday signed into law a ban on homeless people sleeping in parks, on sidewalks and in other public spaces, calling it a solution to communities “plagued” with homelessness.

During a news conference in Miami Beach, which recently started arresting homeless people who refuse to go to a shelter, DeSantis touted the legislation as furthering his “law and order” agenda.

“You should not be accosted by a homeless (person),” DeSantis said. “You should be able to walk down the street and live your life.”

The legislation, House Bill 1365, forbids cities and counties, beginning Oct. 1, from allowing people to sleep or camp in public spaces.

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March 19, 2024
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The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights’ Voting Record, which reflects the recorded votes taken by every senator and representative on the legislative priorities of The Leadership Conference and its coalition members, found that last year was one of the few first sessions of a Congress in recent history in which neither chamber passed meaningful civil rights legislation as scored by our Voting Record. This troubling finding is, in large part, due to a deeply divided Congress lacking in bipartisan support for civil rights legislation. It comes as our democracy faces a consequential year and amidst ongoing attacks on the hard-won rights and protections — and the diversity and inclusion policies and programs — that make us a more cohesive, effective, and fair society for everyone.
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March 18, 2024
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Since the Supreme Court handed down its Shelby County v. Holder decision in 2013, striking down a key part of the landmark Voting Rights Act, scholars and voting rights advocates have tried to capture the impact of the decision on voters of color.

Before the decision, counties and states with a history of discriminating against voters of color, as determined by a formula in the law, had to submit proposed changes to their voting laws and procedures to the U.S. Department of Justice for approval, a process known as preclearance. The provision was interpreted to cover changes big and small, ranging from the relocation of a polling place to new voter ID laws or political redistricting.

In the Shelby County case, the court struck down the formula, leaving those jurisdictions free to enact changes. Congress has so far failed to put a new formula in place.

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March 14, 2024
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For those looking to raise doubts about American elections, it’s becoming clear that a key 2024 voting boogeyman will be immigration. The false notion that undocumented immigrants are affecting federal elections has been floating around for over 100 years, experts say, but this year, due in part to an increase in migrants at the southern U.S. border, the idea could have new potency. The narratives are being pushed by prominent right-wing figures including Cleta Mitchell, a former adviser to Donald Trump, along with the presumptive Republican presidential nominee himself. NPR acquired a two-page memo Mitchell has been circulating laying out “the threat of non-citizen voting in 2024.”
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March 12, 2024
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Voters in particular states will encounter stricter voter ID requirements when they head to the polls as part of a wave of in-person voter ID laws enacted across the country during the last four years. Eight states have enacted voter ID laws since the 2020 election, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures: Arkansas, Idaho, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, North Carolina, Ohio and Wyoming. The rash of new laws affects 29 million adults. One in 6 voters live in anticipated 2024 battleground states — Arizona, Georgia, Michigan, Nevada, North Carolina, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin — with new ID requirements.
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March 11, 2024
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State lawmakers across the U.S. concerned about the integrity of elections ahead of the 2024 presidential vote are proposing and enacting an unprecedented number of laws to restrict — and, in some cases, expand — voting rights and ballot access.

State lawmakers across the U.S. concerned about the integrity of elections ahead of the 2024 presidential vote are proposing and enacting an unprecedented number of laws to restrict — and, in some cases, expand — voting rights and ballot access.

In the shadow of the 2020 presidential election, states enacted more restrictive and expansive laws related to voting in 2021 and 2023 individually than in any other years in the last decade, according to the Brennan Center for Justice, a New York-based civil rights group. Because of this, voters in 27 states will face new requirements that weren’t in place when they voted in 2020.

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TALLAHASSEE —  All Voting is Local’s Florida State Director Brad Ashwell issued the following statement in response to Wednesday’s vote by Hillsborough County commissioners to cut the county’s election budget by $200,000, despite the budget already being approved:

“This sizable cut to the Hillsborough County Supervisor of Elections budget sets a dangerous precedent for elections in Florida if county officials can arbitrarily slash necessary funding whenever they want. County commissioners are making a very short-sighted decision by justifying the budget cut due to outreach by the supervisor of election to inactive voters. 
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March 6, 2024
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TALLAHASSEE, Florida — Florida is legally blocked from enforcing a key portion of the high-profile 2022 law restricting what Gov. Ron DeSantis called “woke” workplace trainings about race after a federal appeals court ruled Monday that the policy “exceeds the bounds of the First Amendment.”

A three-judge panel of the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals dealt a blow to the DeSantis administration by deeming one of the Republican governor’s signature laws — the “Stop Woke” Act — unconstitutional, upholding a previous ruling that prevented it from taking hold. DeSantis officials, meanwhile, disagreed with the decision, signaling that the governor could ask the Supreme Court to weigh in.

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February 29, 2024
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ST. LOUIS, Mo. — Eric Fey is bracing for Election Day snarls because of a decision his state made last year.  Missouri pulled out of a collaboration known as the Electronic Registration Information Center, or ERIC, which helps states keep voter rolls accurate — such as flagging when people move. Fey, the Democratic director of elections in St. Louis County, expects delays when people discover at the polls that the address on their voter registration record is incorrect. “More people will be doing change-of-address forms at polling places and at the election office on Election Day,” said Fey, who is also president of a statewide local election authorities group. “At least for those voters, it takes longer, and there is a longer line.” 
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February 28, 2024
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The Legislature last year started awarding inmates free calls based on good behavior.

Calls home to family can offer the incarcerated a lifeline to the outside world. Now, the Senate wants more opportunities for prisoners to earn phone time for good behavior.

The latest offer from the Senate Criminal and Civil Justice Appropriations Committee budgets $2 million to a phone call savings pilot program for prison inmates’ families.

The Department of Corrections last year launched a pilot program that would make a limited number of phone calls free and to dole those out to inmates demonstrating good behavior.

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February 27, 2024
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Alabama has a long history of incarcerating Black children. For generations, Black youth have been overly criminalized, pushed out of school without due process, and given harsher punishments than their white counterparts. However, today youth incarceration has evolved into a lucrative business in Alabama, as for-profit youth detention facilities maximize profit margins while subjecting children to abuse and harm. Our report, Only Young Once: Alabama’s Overreliance on School Pushout and For-Profit Youth Incarceration, details how a narrative of youth crime contributes to overly punitive school discipline, racial disparities, and an expensive youth legal system that is not designed for rehabilitation. Only Young Once also recommends opportunities that would be more productive for Alabama’s youth and more cost-effective for taxpayers.
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February 21, 2024
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In the conspiracy-soaked aftermath of the 2020 election, far-right activists clamored to inspect ballots based on elaborate — and false — theories. In Georgia, election deniers pushed for a review that might detect counterfeit ballots because they were not folded, appeared to be marked by a machine or were printed on different card stock. In Arizona, auditors were on the hunt for bamboo fibers in ballots to prove that they had fraudulently came from Asia. Those theories were roundly rebuked, without a shred — or fiber — of evidence to support them. National attention from voters and the mainstream news media eventually shifted to the 2024 election.
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Tallahassee, FL – A State Affairs Committee elections bill filed Monday introduced legislation that would prohibit drop boxes for people to turn in their absentee or vote by mail ballots unless they are in the physical offices of county supervisors of elections or at an early voting polling place during hours when early voting can occur. If passed, PCB SAC 6 would ban almost all drop boxes that have worked effectively and safely in previous Florida elections.

The drop boxes have not gotten the attention of other aspects of the bill. But State Voices Florida condemns the banning of drop boxes and urges all legislators in the House and Senate to oppose it.  It will make it harder to vote in Florida, but won’t make our elections more secure.
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February 14, 2024
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When Americans head to the polls this year, voters in 38 states — more than ever before — will have to confront a maze of voter ID laws that request or require a specific form of identification to cast a ballot that counts. Throughout my career as a voting rights litigator, I’ve repeatedly seen the impact of tightening ID restrictions on voters. The myth perpetuated by some legislators that “everyone has an ID” is simply not based in reality. I’ve advocated for students who couldn’t vote using their student ID, people who lack transportation to access an ID-issuing office and those who can’t afford to obtain the underlying documents like a birth certificate that they need to secure an ID. During one trial I litigated, we actually had to request special permission from the judge for a witness to even be able to enter the courthouse because they lacked the ID required
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February 7, 2024
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TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WCTV) – Florida laws currently require residents to provide an extensive amount of information to register to vote. Some activists say those requirements are voter suppression, and they’re pushing state lawmakers to change those rules. Hundreds turned out at the Florida Capitol on Wednesday to support HB 1035 and SB 1522, which aim to remove some of those expansive requirements. Protesters listened to Civil Rights leaders speak near the steps of the Capitol Building. The advocates said they are hoping to change laws that currently limit who can drop off ballots and when ballots can be turned in. Other laws advocates are targeting impose fines on some voters who miss certain deadlines.
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February 4, 2024
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The disagreement has kept potentially 26,000 kids from getting state-subsidized health insurance. Gov. Ron DeSantis is suing to toss new federal guidelines that require kids to keep their state-subsidized health care insurance even if their parents skip premium payments. If parents don’t pay premiums and kids are allowed to stay on the state-subsidized insurance, as the feds are requiring, the new rules would be costly, the state contends. Estimates are that it could add up to nearly $30 million in unpaid premiums under the current system and nearly $50 million under the state’s expansion of Florida KidCareapproved last year, according to a 411-page complaint the state filed in federal court.
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February 1, 2024
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TALLAHASSEE – With Florida’s Republican-controlled Legislature continuing its decade-long opposition to Medicaid expansion, advocacy groups now have launched an effort to get the idea before voters in two years.  Raising at least $12 million to collect the almost 1 million signatures needed to qualify for the November 2026 ballot is a goal of Florida Decides Healthcare, whose organizers say it could bring health care to some 1.4 million lower-income residents.  If approved for the ballot and passed by no less than 60% of voters statewide, the measure would create an amendment to the state’s constitution.
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What: An Invitation from Equal Ground, Florida Rising, SPLC  Action Fund, All Voting is Local, ACLU Florida, and the NAACP to a Press Conference and Voting Rights Rally calling for the passage of the Harry T. and Harriette V. Moore Voting Rights Act (Senate Bill 1522 and House Bill 1035). When: February 7, 2024 at noon. Where:  House Plaza (north side) at the Capitol, Tallahassee, FL. Featured Speakers: Senator Geraldine Thompson and Representative Lavon Bracy-Davis, sponsors of the legislation. Please RSVP here.
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January 30, 2024
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LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (AP) — A federal appeals court on Tuesday declined to reconsider its decision that would prevent private groups from suing under a key section of the Voting Rights Act, prompting a potential fight before the U.S. Supreme Court over a ruling that civil rights groups say erodes the law aimed at prohibiting racial discrimination in voting. The 8th U.S. Circuit Court of appeals denied the request for the case to go before the full 8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals after a panel ruled 2-1 last year that only the U.S. attorney general can enforce Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act. The Arkansas Public Policy Panel and the Arkansas State Conference NAACP, which are challenging Arkansas’ new state House districts under the law, have argued last year’s ruling would upend decades of precedent and would remove a key tool for voters to stand up for their
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January 28, 2024
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High turnout in previous elections has caused states like Florida to take steps to reduce access to voting. As the 2024 election approaches, organizers are working hard to preserve voting rights in states that have made it drastically more difficult to vote.  After record voter turnout in 2020, several states, including Georgia, Florida, and Iowa, took steps to make voting more difficult. Some reduced drop box access, and others limited vote-by-mail or shortened voting times. Voting rights organizations across the country are fighting to curb the impact of these laws by challenging them in court while also trying to help voters navigate obstacles that keep them from exercising their democratic right.
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A federal judge stopped the enforcement of a Florida law in July that bans non-U.S. citizens from collecting or handling voter registrations. Now, the voting rights advocates are preparing to defend their temporary victory in an appellate court on Thursday. Florida Secretary of State Cord Byrd and Attorney General Ashley Moody filed an appeal of U.S. Chief District Judge Mark Walker’s decision to stop the enforcement of the law just days after it went into effect. The appeal is set to be heard on Jan. 25 in the United States Court of Appeals for the 11th Circuit in Atlanta, Georgia.
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TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – As democratic ideals and values continue to face attacks from extremist politicians, Senator Geraldine Thompson (D-Orlando) and Rep. LaVon Bracy Davis (D-Orlando) proudly announce legislation to protect democracy and ensure equal access at the ballot box: the Harry T. & Harriette V. Moore Florida Voting Rights Act (SB 1522/HB 1035).
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November 30, 2023
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A majority of Florida voters — including more than half of Republicans surveyed — told pollsters they support a proposed amendment that would add a right to abortion to the state Constitution. The poll from the University of North Florida’s Public Opinion Research Lab, released Thursday, found 62% of state voters said they would vote “yes” if the measure appears on the November 2024 ballot. UNF also said 67% of Florida voters are “yes” on a proposed state constitutional amendment that would allow adults in Florida to purchase and possess small amounts of marijuana for personal use. The poll results suggest the measures could pass. Referendums require a 60% “yes” vote to become part of the Florida Constitution.
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Today is Giving Tuesday, a global generosity movement unleashing the power of people and organizations to transform their communities, and that is what we hope to do, transform communities. State Voices Florida is a  statewide civic engagement organization committed to bringing together progressive Non Partisan organizations to work together in building power around civic issues.  If the progressive movement works together and speaks with one voice, great things will happen. We believe everyone should have the right to vote, and voting should be simple and easy. We also support reproductive rights, environmental justice, criminal justice reform, economic justice and affordable housing for everyone. Along with our partner organizations, we use data and technology, people-powered campaigns, and coalitions to collectively build a multiracial democracy that allows every Floridian to thrive and live in their full dignity. We are a member of the State Voices Affiliated Network, a network of state-based coalitions,
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November 21, 2023
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CRETE, Neb. — This is what the future of American democracy looked like for Sierra Edmisten one evening this fall: a block of modest, single-story homes; the lights from the Crete High School football stadium glowing in the mist; families gathering for dinner after a day in the meatpacking plants. Edmisten was collecting signatures for a cause associated with liberals in a red part of one of the country’s reddest states. The ballot initiative she was seeking to put before voters would, if passed, require Nebraska employers to guarantee their workers at least five days of paid sick leave each year.
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November 5, 2023
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At first Salanda Benton didn’t think enough people were paying attention to what she felt was the unraveling of civil rights happening in Florida. It angered her, then saddened her as state officials banned books and restricted the teaching of Black history. ‘I can’t believe it’s 2023 and we’re going through this,’ said Benton, executive director of the Florida Coalition on Black Civic Participation.
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