The Center for American Progress released a report today on voter suppression efforts carried out by Republican-led state legislatures around the country, listing Florida as one of “five worst states for voting rights in 2011.” As we at The Florida Independent have been reporting, Florida lawmakers passed a new voting law last year that has drawn fire from federal officials, legislators, advocacy groups and voting rights experts from all over the country. The many critics of the law have said the law is a concerted effort to keep minorities, young people, the elderly and the poor from the polls on Election Day. Florida’s contentious law places prohibitive rules and restrictions on third-party voter registration groups, creates a shortened “shelf life” for signatures collected for ballot initiatives, places new restrictions on voters changing their registered addresses on election day, and reduces the number of early voting days — among many other provisions.
Experts have warned, though, that Florida is not alone. Last year, a slew of strict voter ID laws and prohibitive voter registration rules were passed in state legislatures all over the country. These laws have experts warning that marginalized groups could be facing increased barriers to the polls and a rollback of their voting rights. Specifically, critics of these laws have warned that women, African-Americans, Latinos, students, low-income voters, the elderly and the disabled would be most affected. The fact that key states in the upcoming election — such as Florida — are passing laws that curb voter turnout could greatly affect the outcome of the upcoming presidential election.
The Center for American Progress report (.pdf) warns that “if similar swing states, such as Florida or Michigan, took up this plan, it could fundamentally transform the next election into a contest to see who can best game the system.” The organization listed Florida as one of the “five worst” worst states because state lawmakers enacted some of the worst voting restrictions all at once.