NAACP LDF Seeks to Help Florida Voters Fight Discrimination

The NAACP Legal Defense Fund wants to intervene on behalf of Black Florida voters to help prevent discriminatory new voting laws.  

Posted: 09/07/2011 01:38 PM EDT
Filed Under voting rights, racism

The NAACP Legal Defense Fund has extended its help to Black Florida voters seeking to defeat a proposed law that allegedly discriminates against African-Americans.

 

The LDF filed a motion Tuesday seeking to intervene in a lawsuit on behalf of the Florida State Conference of the NAACP and African-American voters to prevent Florida from implementing a law that would bring significant changes to voting schedules and registration requirements that the plaintiffs say will elbow Blacks out of the polls.

 

Under the proposed law, the number of early voting days available would be cut in half; a change that affects the voting rights of African-Americans in Florida, where African-Americans make up a large percentage of early voters.

 

In 2008, for example, African-Americans comprised nearly 20% of early voters, despite being only approximately 12% of the electorate. Overall, more than half of African-American voters in Florida voted during the early voting period in 2008.

 

Also, the new law would place severe restrictions on organizations that conduct voter registration drives, and would impose new provisional ballot requirements on voters who move before Election Day.

 

In the lawsuit, Florida v. United States, the state is seeking approval from a federal court, for the new voting measures. Statewide voting changes cannot be implemented in Florida until the federal government has reviewed them and determined that they will not have a discriminatory effect on minority voters as prohibited under Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act.

 

"Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act serves as our democracy's checkpoint. The changes to the elections laws proposed by the State of Florida demonstrate precisely why Section 5 is necessary," said John Payton, LDF president and director-counsel. "Implementation of these discriminatory changes to Florida's voting laws would be devastating for African-American and other minority voters in the state."

(Photo: Mario Tama/Getty Images)

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