Target: Florida Governor Rick Scott
Goal: Stop Florida from disenfranchising minorities
A number of U.S. states have passed voter ID laws under the pretense of defending against voter fraud. These laws would require voters to present some form of government issued identification upon arrival prior to voting. These legislations have mostly been passed in Republican controlled states. While on the surface the idea of asking voters to show proof of citizenship or residency is sound, these laws are ultimately a means of voter suppression, not a means of protecting against voter fraud.
It should be noted that voter fraud has not been a major issue in the United States for some time; our polls and voting procedure are already rather well protected. These voter protection laws have largely targeted minorities and the elderly, as they are less likely to have photo ID. These laws have almost exclusively been put into effect by Republican lawmakers who want to quell potentially Democratic voters.
Right before the upcoming presidential election, 2,600 Floridians have received notice from the state that they must prove their U.S. citizenship within 30 days or will not be allowed to vote. 82% of those that received letters were African American, Asian American or Latino, and a number of them had already proved their citizenship.
Voter suppression laws are clearly wrong and motivated solely by prejudice, but Florida’s recent move is a blatant violation of the National Voter Registration Act. The NRVA states that no voters can be removed from the official voter lists within 90 days of a Federal election unless they ask to be removed, are mentally incapacitated, incarcerated, or die.
None of the 2,600 people being threatened with removal from the voting rolls are criminals, mentally disabled, or dead, and they certainly have not asked to be removed from the voter registration lists. The facts of this are simple; Florida is breaking the law in an attempt to stop minorities from voting for the “wrong” candidate. Nationwide, up to 23 million Latino voters could be stopped from voting by similar laws.
These attempts at modern day Jim Crow laws must be put to an end. It is bad enough that 23 states demand to see ID before someone can fulfill their most basic civic duty, but for states to systematically target minorities is a step too far. Sign the petition and tell Florida that it is time for them to stop harassing minority voters.
Dear Governor Scott,
Your state recently joined the list of states with voter ID laws. I do not agree with these laws as they appear to be racially and socio-economically motivated; systematically targeting groups such as the elderly, the poor, African Americans, recently naturalized immigrants, and Latinos. I feel that these laws should be repealed but that is an issue for you and your constituents. However, your state’s targeting of Latinos and other voters in particular is a federal matter.
Some 2,600 registered voters in Florida recently received letters in the mail stating that they had one month to formally prove their American citizenship or they would be barred from voting in the Presidential election this November. Many of these people have already gone through this process. A massive 82% of these people are minorities. There is no apparent evidence for why they should be declared ineligible to vote. There is not any evidence indicating that they are illegal immigrants, and those who have been naturalized have already proved that they are citizens.
A Florida court ruled that voters could be purged from the official voters lists of they are deemed ineligible. However, to do so would be a clear violation of the National Voter Registration Act, which states that a person may only be removed from the voter rolls within 90 days of a federal election if they are incarcerated, sustain an injury that leaves them with a mental handicap, ask to be removed, or die. None of the people targeted fit any of these criteria. It seems that they have been targeted because of the fact that they could potentially vote Democratic.
We have come a long way since the days of Jim Crow laws, Governor Scott. Rulings like the one your state has passed only disenfranchise American citizens who are members of a minority group. The people they affect are just as American as you Governor, and they deserve to have their voices heard. Please do not allow your state or our country to slide back into the ways of Jim Crow. Please stop targeting minority voters.
[Your Name Here]
Photo credit: Ben Sutherland via flickr