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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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Bob Graham, a Florida Democrat who as a little-known state senator cleaned stables and waited on tables in a clever populist strategy that helped to boost him into the governorship, the United States Senate and a run for the presidency, died on Tuesday at his home in Gainesville, Fla. He was 87.

His death was announced in a family statement sent by Chris Hand, a family spokesman who is a former aide to Senator Graham and his co-author on books about effective citizenship in democracy. Mr. Graham was disabled by a stroke in May 2020.

The son of a Florida state senator, Mr. Graham had gained little political traction after 13 years in the State Legislature. He seemed destined to rise no higher than his father. Then he had an idea.

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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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March 6, 2024
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Florida’s voting laws now require voters who wish to request a vote-by-mail ballot to do so after every election cycle. The new law requires that every voter who requested a vote-by-mail ballot before November 8, 2022 must do so again if they wish to receive their mail ballots for 2023 municipal elections, primaries and the 2024 general election. 

In order to apply for vote-by-mail before Florida’s statutory 12-day deadline ahead of upcoming election periods, make sure to go to your county’s web page listed below.

If you need assistance with obtaining a Florida ID or driver’s license, contact VoteRiders at 1-866-ID-2-VOTE / 1-866-432-8683.

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March 1, 2024
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The Biden administration is partnering with voting rights groups to try to boost turnout among key voting blocs this November, in what officials say is a move to counter GOP efforts to restrict voting. 

Why it matters: The move comes as House Republicans are refusing to consider measures to improve voting access pushed by Democrats — and after conservative state lawmakers nationwide introduced more than 300 bills last year that included voting restrictions. 

  • Vice President Kamala Harris is announcing the plan Tuesday.
  • “The president and vice president are doing everything they can to protect democracy, including by calling on all of the federal agencies to do what they can to protect the right to vote,” said Erica Songer, counsel to the vice president.

Zoom in: The Democratic plan includes a call to reinforce the Voting Rights Act of 1965, which has been weakened by recent Supreme Court decisions. Harris also is announcing new strategies that federal agencies will use to encourage millions of Americans to vote in November.

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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 26, 2024
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RENO, Nev. ‒ Deanna Spikula lasted five years but quit amid relentless harassment, baseless accusations of treason, and death threats. Her replacement lasted just over 500 days- and quit a few weeks after someone sent fentanyl-laced envelopes to her colleagues. Now it’s Cari-Ann Burgess’ turn in the crucible known as the Washoe County Registrar of Voters office, where every one of the 18 people who worked there during the 2020 election has since quit. Statewide, almost every election administrator has left in the past 3½ years. “You have to be somewhat crazy to do what we do,” said Burgess, who in January began serving as the county’s interim chief elections official. “The negative publicity, the harassment.”
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February 23, 2024
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Runoff elections for Primary contests won’t be returning to Florida any time soon. House Speaker Paul Renner said legislation that emerged last week is dead for the Regular Session.

“We had a conversation. It was a short conversation,” Renner told reporters, acknowledging the vehement opposition from many Republicans to the bill (PCB SAC 24-06).

The bill would have brought back runoffs for Primary Elections, which Florida held until 2002. In any Primary contest where no single candidate received 50% or more, the top two vote-getters would square off in a second Primary to see who would go on to the General Election. The change wouldn’t have taken effect until the 2026 election cycle.

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February 21, 2024
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The Republican-controlled Florida Legislature has unveiled another election bill that would further restrict where voters can drop off mail-in ballots and also force party primary candidates into runoffs if they don’t get more than 50% of the vote.

The bill is just the latest in a series of controversial bills since the 2020 election aimed at mail-in voting, all of which have come under fire from Democrats who say they are designed to suppress turnout.

But this proposal also brought immediate pushback from some members of the GOP for what they claimed was an attempt to prevent them from winning primaries without garnering a majority as candidates can do now.

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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 16, 2024
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A strong and healthy democracy reflects the will of the people. It gives everyone an equal opportunity to participate and have their vote counted, regardless of race, gender, wealth, or social status. It ensures that all voters have the ability to advocate for themselves and their communities.   It depends on all of us to take part and strengthen our democracy together, and science has a crucial role to play. The science of elections can help us identify evidence-based best practices to improve voter access, increase public trust in the election process, and ensure fair representation so that elected officials can be held accountable to the interests of their voters.  Past UCS work has called out the role of disinformation in weakening our democracy, the dangers of artificial intelligence in elections, and how voting restrictions harm public health. The 2024 election will have consequential outcomes and we want to ensure that everyone eligible can vote and
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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 12, 2024
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TALLAHASSEE — While saying Florida has repeatedly changed laws to “target” ways Black voters cast ballots, a federal judge Thursday closed the door on allegations that key parts of a 2021 elections law were unconstitutional. Chief U.S. District Judge Mark Walker issued a 17-page order after the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals last year overturned a ruling in which he found the law improperly discriminated against Black voters. The Atlanta-based appeals court sent the case back to Walker to address two major issues. Walker, in Thursday’s order, appeared to criticize the appeals court for “reweighing” facts in the case. But he entered a judgment in favor of the state, concluding that plaintiffs had not met a legal test for showing that the changes in the law “unduly burden” First Amendment and equal protection rights.
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February 8, 2024
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State Voices Florida was proud to take part in a rally in support of the Harry T. and Harriette V. Moore Voting Rights Act at the Florida Capitol on Wednesday, February 7. We want to extend our thanks to Equal Ground and  the NAACP of Florida for planning and putting on this event. It was a joyous occasion with many different organizations coming together in solidarity.

While it has no chance of passing this session, it will be the most important piece of voting rights legislation in the history of Florida whenever it does become law.

The legislation is named in honor of Harry T. and Harriette V. Moore, two of Florida’s most important voting rights advocates who died championing the right to vote for Black Floridians.

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February 8, 2024
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State Voices joined with other supporters outside of the Florida Supreme Court in support of Amendment 4. This is the abortion ballot initiative that would legalize reproductive freedom in the Florida Constitution. The Florida Supreme Court reviewed the ballot language on Wednesday, February 7. As Communications Director Larry Hannan explains in the video below, the Supreme Court reviewed whether the ballot language was clear for voters.

Larry was one of the many who showed up for the Supreme Court oral argument to show their support for reproductive freedom. Now that the ballot signature requirement has been achieved we still have the challenge of getting people to the polls in November. Polling shows that the majority of Floridians support Amendment 4, but we must get to 60% to win.

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February 7, 2024
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League of Women Voters focusing on younger voters ORLANDO, Fla. – We are just one month away from Florida’s Presidential Preference Primary. The deadline to register to vote in the March presidential primary is Feb. 20. There will only be a Republican Party primary, there will not be a Democratic Party primary. The last day to request a vote-by-mail ballot is March 7. The primary is on March 19. Coincidentally, that’s when Central Florida schools are on spring break. The presidential primary is the first of three major elections in Florida this year, with the statewide primary coming in August and the general election in November. Tiffany Hughes is President of the League of Women Voters of Orange County. She and her organization have been working now to get voting results, including reaching people where they are.
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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 6, 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 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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January 24, 2024
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TALLAHASSEE — The Florida Supreme Court on Wednesday agreed to take up a challenge to the constitutionality of a congressional redistricting plan. But it appears the case will not be resolved before a candidate-qualifying deadline for the November elections. The Supreme Court issued an order saying it will hear an appeal by voting-rights groups and other plaintiffs, rejecting arguments by the state that it should turn down the case. The voting-rights groups went to the Supreme Court after the 1st District Court of Appeal on Dec. 1 upheld the constitutionality of the redistricting plan.
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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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Tallahassee, FL – Last week Senate Bill 1752 was introduced. This legislation would limit access to vote by mail, which is now available to any registered voter who requests it. State Voices Florida opposes this legislation. We believe everyone should have the right to vote, and voting should be simple and easy. SB 1752 will make it more difficult for all Floridians to vote regardless of their politics.
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January 8, 2024
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The Florida Legislative Session starts January 9th, and a coalition of Florida advocates and leaders spoke on the steps of St. Petersburg City Hall to demand lawmakers listen to the concerns of working Floridians. Jerry Funt is with activist group the Bay Area Dream Defenders. “Last year, these politicians handed out tax breaks to wealthy industries, they delivered contracts to their political donors, they dismantled regulations that keep you and I safe, and they neglected to deal with rising housing and insurance costs while spending public money to engage in culture wars that targeted our communities.”
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A senator in Florida is pushing a bill that would make it more difficult to vote by mail.  Currently, people who want to vote by mail in the state of Florida simply register to vote and request a mail-in ballot.  However, Senate Bill 1752, filed by state Sen. Blaise Ingolia, would change that system with one word: eligibility. The bill says a qualified absent voter may vote by mail if, on election day and during early in-person voting, the absent voter expects to be: It’s a move that Ramon Perez, the executive director of the nonprofit organization Digital Democracy Project, believes would limit access to voting.
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December 18, 2023
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WASHINGTON, Dec 18 (Reuters) – A U.S. government report on Monday found that hackers linked to Russia and China targeted some election systems during the 2022 midterms, but found no evidence that foreign governments compromised the vote. The U.S. Justice Department and Department of Homeland Security issued a public report concluding that no foreign government or agent undermined the security or integrity of election systems. The report found that pro-Russian activist hackers claimed to have temporarily restricted access to the website of a state election office. Hackers the United States accused of having links to China also scanned both election related and non-election related state government websites, the report found.
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December 14, 2023
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TALLAHASSEE — Voting-rights groups Wednesday night asked the Florida Supreme Court to take up a battle about the constitutionality of a congressional redistricting plan and to quickly decide the case as the 2024 elections loom. Attorneys for the groups and other plaintiffs argued in a brief that the Supreme Court should reject a Dec. 1 ruling by the 1st District Court of Appeal that upheld the plan, which Gov. Ron DeSantis pushed through the Legislature in 2022.
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December 11, 2023
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Progressive advocacy groups in Arkansas on Monday asked a full federal appeals court to reconsider a three-judge panel’s ruling that private groups can’t sue under a key section of the federal Voting Rights Act. The Arkansas Public Policy Panel and the Arkansas State Conference NAACP asked for the case to go before the full 8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals after a panel ruled 2-1 last month that only the U.S. attorney general can enforce Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act.
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December 6, 2023
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WASHINGTON (AP) — Congressional Democrats have introduced legislation that would allow people convicted of a felony to vote in federal elections, a proposal that if enacted could restore the voting rights of millions of people in U.S. elections. Rep. Ayanna Pressley of Massachusetts and Sen. Peter Welch of Vermont submitted the legislation, named the Inclusive Democracy Act, on Tuesday which would guarantee the right to vote in federal elections for all citizens regardless of their criminal record.
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December 5, 2023
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WASHINGTON — Kaylie Martinez-Ochoa arrived at an elementary school at 5 a.m. on Election Day barely awake for duty as a poll worker in northern Virginia. The 22-year-old recent college graduate spent hours at the polling site earlier this month helping check in hundreds of voters. Despite the exhausting day, Martinez-Ochoa plans to do it again in 2024 and hopes more young people will join the pool of much-needed poll workers.
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December 3, 2023
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It has been more than a year since Gov. Ron DeSantis announced the arrests of 20 people across the state who allegedly voted illegally in 2020 elections. DeSantis touted the arrests as cracking down on election fraud, a national hot-button issue for Republicans after former President Donald Trump’s loss in the 2020 election and his subsequent false claims of voter fraud. However, not long after the arrests were announced, judges started dismissing cases, ruling that the Office of Statewide Prosecution did not have jurisdiction.
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December 1, 2023
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A Florida appeals court upheld Gov. Ron DeSantis’ congressional redistricting map, finding a lower state court should have dismissed a lawsuit challenging North Florida’s districts. Even though DeSantis’ lawyers admitted his map violated the state constitution by diminishing Black voting power, the First District Court of Appeal said state voting protections shouldn’t apply to a Jacksonville-to-Tallahassee congressional district ordered by the Florida Supreme Court last decade.
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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 28, 2023
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The 2024 presidential election is a full year away – and many of the rules that will govern the pivotal contest have already been written. The past three years make up one of the most prolific periods for election legislation in American history. Over 560 new laws governing our elections – many of them containing pages and pages of changes – have become law in states all across the country.
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November 27, 2023
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Andrea Mercado, the executive director of Florida Rising, a nonpartisan nonprofit that leads civic engagement and helps to educate and register voters in Black and Latino communities, is just as blunt in her assessment of the leading GOP contender. “(Trump) built a campaign stoking racial animus with a promise to deliver solely for white working-class voters, and we saw corporations and the rich get richer and others hurt in the process,” Mercado said. “If he wins, we enter a new chapter in American history, as his playbook is no friend to marginalized people.”
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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 20, 2023
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A divided federal appeals court on Monday ruled that private individuals and groups such as the NAACP do not have the ability to sue under a key section of the federal Voting Rights Act, a decision that contradicts decades of precedent and could further erode protections under the landmark 1965 law. The 2-1 decision by a panel of the 8th Circuit Court of Appeals based in St. Louis found that only the U.S. attorney general can enforce Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act, which requires political maps to include districts where minority populations’ preferred candidates can win elections.
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November 17, 2023
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In the last decade, the U.S. overall and the South specifically have become more racially diverse, according to the latest data from the U.S. Census Bureau. An analysis from the nonpartisan Brennan Center for Justice found that racially-diverse states governed by Republicans are more likely to implement restrictive voting policies. And three of the 10 states that had the highest diversity index in 2020 are in the South: Florida, Georgia, and Texas.  All three are controlled by Republican governors and legislatures that have passed restrictive voting laws disproportionately affecting communities of color. So far this year, at least 14 states have implemented laws making it more difficult to cast a ballotthat will be in place for the 2024 election.
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November 16, 2023
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Last fall, the Movement Advancement Project released The ID Divide: How barriers to ID impact different communities and affect everyone. The analysis outlines in grave detail how barriers to obtaining IDs can impact one’s daily life, including voting, which communities are most harmed by restrictive policies and the ways that policymakers can address systemic inequities and barriers that make IDs inaccessible for too many Americans. Photo by Judson McCranie
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November 16, 2023
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Civil rights groups and local leaders are kicking off a campaign to register more Black Floridians to vote in the next election.
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November 16, 2023
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Florida Attorney General Ashley Moody unholstered one bogeyman after another in urging the state Supreme Court to deny Floridians even the opportunity to vote on a proposed constitutional amendment enshrining abortion rights. Her legal brief in a procedural matter is a nakedly political assault on privacy, freedom, medicine — and even the English language itself. The court should see through this maneuvering and allow Floridians to address this issue through the democratic process.
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November 15, 2023
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Jacksonville’s Mayor continues to push for the removal of a Jim Crow era statue from the former Confederate Park. But she notes there’s little “interest” from the City Council in removing the obelisk paying tribute to the “Women of the Southland.” During an interview on WJCT, Donna Deegan said the $500,000 the Mayor’s Office has requested for monument removal “has to go through Council and that is something Council is not interested in doing.”
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November 15, 2023
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Four advocacy groups have gone to an appeals court after a federal judge rejected a lawsuit challenging a Florida requirement for “wet” signatures on voter-registration forms. Vote.org, the Florida Alliance for Retired Americans, the Florida NAACP and Disability Rights Florida filed a notice last week that was a first step in appealing the Oct. 30 ruling by U.S. District Judge Allen Winsor. As is common, the notice did not detail arguments the groups will make at the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.
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November 13, 2023
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Nearly a quarter of a million children were ineligible for Medicaid as the state is about halfway through its redetermination process, in which the Department of Children and Family Services is reevaluating eligibility for 5.5 million Floridians. So far, DCF has disenrolled around 260,000 children from Medicaid across the state. The state plan was to have those qualifying children enter Florida’s kid healthcare plan… Only 25,000 have enrolled.
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November 11, 2023
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One in 5 voters with disabilities either needed assistance or had difficulty voting in 2022 — three times the rate of people without disabilities, according to the most recent survey from the U.S. Election Assistance Committee (EAC). The survey report, “Disability and Voting Accessibility in the 2022 Elections,” highlights the difficulties faced by the estimated 30 million Americans with disabilities who are eligible to vote and the subsequent negative impact on their civic engagement.
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November 10, 2023
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In Marion County, Fla., elections supervisor Wesley Wilcox has stopped using the word “misinformation.” Not because lies or misleading rumors about elections are any less prevalent in his county than the rest of the country. Wilcox says he regularly interacts with groups that aim to find what they see as rampant fraud in elections.
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November 8, 2023
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In response to the recent controversy surrounding African American history standards in public schools, Senator Shevrin Jones, a Democrat from Miami Gardens, has introduced a proposal aimed at preventing the inclusion of any instruction suggesting that enslaved people benefited from slavery in any way.
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November 6, 2023
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As a minority voter in the United States, I have experienced firsthand the detrimental effects of gerrymandering on our democratic process. Gerrymandering, a practice that involves manipulating electoral boundaries to favor a particular political party, has long been a cause for concern. With reference to the insightful article from the NYC Daily Post on the overview of political segregation and gerrymandering, I will shed light on how this practice disproportionately affects minority communities.
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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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November 2, 2023
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Salandra Benton is Executive Director of the Florida Coalition on Black Civic Participation.
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November 2, 2023
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An appeals court Tuesday took up a battle about the constitutionality of a congressional redistricting plan that Gov. Ron DeSantis pushed through the Legislature last year, and some judges appeared skeptical of the challenge filed by voting rights groups.
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October 23, 2023
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She said they timed this week’s stop and voter canvassing to correspond with the Florida Classic, the annual matchup between HBCU football teams from Bethune Cookman University and FAMU, in order to reach young people attending the game.
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October 20, 2023
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Last month, Alabama Secretary of State Wes Allen stood at a podium at the state capitol in Montgomery and announced what he called a novel way for his state to keep its voter lists up to date.
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October 16, 2023
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Republicans have been more successful than Democrats since 2010 at gerrymandering congressional districts to their advantage. But the Republican advantage may be about to fade because of a few court cases.
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May 1, 2023
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Early voting has begun across Duval County, but Florida keeps on making it harder for some individuals to cast a ballot — thanks in part to a few new bills passed by the Florida Legislature. We talked with Larry Hannan, communications director for State Voices Florida, about these and other changes.
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March 16, 2023
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We can only hope that at some point in the future, sanity will return. Earlier this month, the State of Florida withdrew from a nationwide system used to help maintain voter rolls and detect voter fraud.  This decision alarmed many of us in Florida who continue to fight for free and fair elections.
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State Voices Florida, a 501©3 which helps grassroots organizations build year-round, long-term community involvement through civic engagement, called on Florida officials today to rethink new rules that make it harder for organizations to access the Florida Capitol building.
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December 14, 2021
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That’s where Election Protection comes in. Learn more about Election Protection from our own State Voices Florida Operations Manager, Leonardo Placeres.
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December 10, 2021
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Floridians across the state are hearing a lot about redistricting.If you’re not sure what it is, and its significance in the fight for a healthy democracy and political power for Black people, Indigenous people, and other people of color, you’re in the right place.
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December 10, 2021
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Registering and voting is as easy as pie. It’s true. Possibly even easier. All you have to do to register is visit our Rock the Vote website and go ahead and register! It only takes about five minutes. Once you’ve registered, you’re all ready to cast your ballot at your local polling station.
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