Earlier this year Florida became one of the first Republican-led states to pass a restrictive voter suppression law. Among the restrictions imposed by the Florida bill are significant administrative burdens on voter registration and a reduction in half of the number of early voting days.
But Florida’s law likely conflicts with the federal Voting Rights Act since the impact of the new law will have a greater impact on minority voters than whites. Because of those impacts the Democratic Senate Campaign Committee has asked the Department of Justice to suspend the law.
According to the request, the effect of the new law will intimidate volunteers and significantly suppress African-American voters:
Florida saw record turnout among African-American voters in the 2008 general election in which voters had the opportunity to elect the country’s first African-American president. More than half of the African-American Voters in Florida that year cast ballots before Election Day in early voting sites. The DSCC sees it as no coincidence that the Republican-dominated Florida Legislature would institute voting changes that will disparately affect minority voters in an election year when suppressing the minority vote likely will help Republican candidates. But under Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act, minority voting rights cannot be bartered in the course of political gamesmanship.
The lengths the Republicans are willing to go to keep voters from exercising fundamental rights reflects their concern that, if left to the will of the people, they would be out of a job.
Photo from kristina via flickr.