Florida Argues Voting Rights Act Unconstitutional

The Republican assault on democracy continues, this time with a challenge to one of the most critical pieces of civil rights legislation of all times, the 1965 Voting Rights Act.

Specifically, Florida Secretary of State Kurt Browning filed a challenge to Section 5 of the Act which requires those jurisdictions that have a historical, demonstrated, and systemic effort to disenfranchise minorities from having any proposed changes to their voting laws precleared by the federal government before those changes may go into effect. It’s an effort popular among the entire wave of neo-Confederates leading the right these days, and it would appear that Florida has decided to take the lead.

Browning argues that Section 5 is unconstitutional and not proportional to enforcing the provisions of the 14th and 15th Amendments which ensure equal protection and due process to all citizens.

The challenge coincides with a host of changes to state voting laws, including new restrictions on third-party voter registration drives, a shortened “shelf-life” for collecting signatures on ballot initiatives, new registration on voters changing their registered addresses on election day, and a reduction in the number of early voting days. Currently 62 Florida counties are not covered by the preclearance requirements of Section 5, and in those counties those changes have already gone into effect.

The Roberts Court has been itching to get rid of Section 5, but it is not clear that this challenge will be the way to go. Florida completely ignores the fact that there is a process in the Voting Rights Act that allows counties to end preclearance obligations. Browing is either unaware of that process or does not believe the counties in Florida currently covered by Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act can meet the requirements to end preclearance.

It’s worth noting all these challenges reflect Republican attempts to make voting harder, more expensive and burdensome for Americans. Participation in our democracy, it would seem, falls into the realm of privilege rather than right for conservatives, and if we are not careful, that is exactly what will happen.


Related Stories:

Perry Challenges DOJ on Voter ID

Congress Asks DOJ to Look at Voter ID Laws

Photo from hjl via flickr.


Patrick F.
Patrick f6 years ago

They DID say that the south will rise again....just didn't say they would be cheating to accomplish it...

Ed G.
Ed G6 years ago

@john T.
They can always vote absentee ballot in their home state so while its not perfect its not totally denying them their rights either.

Carol Traxler
Carol Traxler6 years ago

A drastic overhaul of all national votng i.d. regulations needs to be put in place. I'm not sure at all how to make this as democratic yet fraud proof as possible but change must be made

William Y.
William Y6 years ago

Excellent comment John T. Green *

John T.
John T6 years ago

It's not the photo ID I object to. I have 2. What I object to is the haphazard standards being used. A college ID is good in some states and not in others. A driver's license is not sufficient in some states but is preferred in others. A state issued ID card is good in one and no good in another.
A college student is a resident within a state 9 months out of the year. Should they vote in the state they're in or should they vote in the state they came from (and go back to in the summer)? For 9 months they pay taxes in the college town, be it sales, use, or property via rent/lease.
Lastly, this whole program is one laid out on the ALEC Memo for all Republican Governors to follow. ALEC, funded by Koch Industries, knows that denied votes are, for the most part, Democratic votes.
Voter fraud is a straw man excuse. In none of these states has voter fraud come even close to 1% of the cast votes. Wisconsin document less than 2 dozen cases.
Talk about using a sledge hammer to drive a finish nail.

Ray C.
.6 years ago

In relation to ID cards, the Britain Government was going to bring in the national ID cards with photo, The Conservatives including myself, oppose the UK's identity card scheme but I would support the use of biometric information in immigration documents.
IMO, the British Government was kidding themselves if they think ID cards for foreign nationals will protect against illegal immigration or terrorism - since they don't apply to those coming here for less than three months,

the cards partly replace a paper-based system of immigration stamps - but will now include the individual's name and picture, their nationality, immigration status and two fingerprints.
the card cannot be issued to people from most parts of Europe because they have the right to move freely in and out of the UK. it was therefore scrapped, due the cost and a breach of Human Rights.
So for voting, the ID cards would not in my view be of any help, indeed it would cause more problems, for instance; a person with a US citiziship, but reside in Canada, he would then have right to vote in the US election due to him having a US citiziship even when he is not residing in US, which in my opinion is not fair to the people of America who reside in America.

Ray C.
.6 years ago

I did not post of this thread yesterday as I was spending alot of time in one of my groups in relation to Iran planned Terror Attack on the US, I therefore submit my comment.

In the UK, we have to register our rights to vote on electrol register, this infomation is collected by local government, this done every year, in October, should you not complete the information that is requested you could end up with a fine of £1000.00,
Once you registered on the Electrol Register, when an election comes along, Your Name with and Address with ID Number will be on the Electrol Register held in the polling stations,
A few days before the election you would receive a Polling Card through the post with you Name and Address and your ID number, you will also be give a Poll Station to attend to cast your vote.
Everything on your Polling Card must match the same on the Electrol Register that is held by the Polling Station, after which you will given a voting paper to cast your vote in the election, should the information on the Card and at the Polling Station not match, you would not be allowed to vote. If you do not register you run the risk as I stated of a £1000.00 fine plus you would not beable to vote.

Diane O.
Diane O6 years ago

Jim, our world has changed since the time when we could just "sign our name" on a document without providing a photo ID. The Patriot Act changed the way we do business and has instilled the importance of "knowing who you are dealing with." If we are required to show a photo ID for most everything we attempt to do in our lives then is shouldn't be an issue to show that ID at the voting stations.

There will always be exceptions to every change we make in our country but there is always a solution. People in rural areas have to go outside those areas for medical care, meds, car repair, etc....they seem to be able to accomplish those needs. If they can do that they can get a photo ID.

Making excuses seems to be the new passtime...anyone who wants to get something accomplished can find a way to do it.

And, yes, we have people who have fake ID's and those who have "dead people" listed on the voting registers...and appointed people to go in and vote under a dead person's name...we are always going to have situations like this but the point is to prevent this from happening with the tools we have that can eliminate and/or minimize voter fraud.

Will Rogers
Will Rogers6 years ago

They can find you if they want taxes from you, wherever you are they will find you. But they can't find you when you need to vote? The only way to get rid of fraud is to get rid of fraudsters. All politicians are crooked and not worthy of respect.

Jim Gayden
Jim Gayden6 years ago

Diane O.'s argument is centered on photo I.D. It's pretty obvious that it is very easy to obtain a forged I.D. It's much more difficult to forge a person's signature. As many people here have stated, it is not always feasible, or even possible for some to obtain photo I.D. So, it would be much more logical to simply require a persons signature to vote. But, the republicans obviously do not want voting turnout to be based on logic. They want to skew the vote to favor them by making it much more difficult, or even impossible to vote. If every person that is a legal voter could actually vote, then the republicans would lose their advantage.