SB 956 & HB 7149 Would Add Barriers to Voting for Floridians

April 22, 2009

Courtenay Strickland, Director of Public Policy, ACLU of Florida (305) 457-5422 cell or; or Brad Ashwell, Legislative Advocate, Florida Public Interest Research Group, (850) 294-1008 cell or; or Carolyn Thompson, The Advancement Project, (786) 278-2361, or

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – In what is possibly the largest collection of groups to ever come together on a single matter of public policy, 42 groups today sent a letter to Governor Crist urging him to veto SB 956 and HB 7149 if they make it to his desk. The diverse assemblage is made up of local and national groups representing civil rights, voting rights, people with disabilities, human services, the elderly, gay and lesbian rights, social justice, veterans and the environment.

The bills, which are being railroaded through the legislative process with practically no public input, are the biggest attack on voting rights that Florida has seen in many years. They would further disfranchise disabled voters, make voter registration more difficult, force more voters to vote on provisional ballots, further restrict acceptable IDs for registration and voting, impede Election Protection voter education programs by expanding the “no-solicitation” zone, increase the purging of eligible voters from voter rolls, limit the Governor’s ability to extend early voting, and more.

The full text of the letter to Gov. Crist is below, and can be downloaded in PDF version here.

April 22, 2009

Office of Governor Charlie Crist
State of Florida
The Capitol
400 S. Monroe St.
Tallahassee, FL 32399-0001

Dear Governor Crist:

We, the below-signed organizations, write to respectfully request that you oppose companion election bills Senate Bill 956 and House Bill 7149, currently under consideration by the Florida legislature. We urge you to speak out forcefully against these bills, and to veto any resultant legislation, should it reach your desk.

These bills, designed to suppress the vote, may be enacted at the eleventh hour of the session with only minimal public consideration or legislative deliberation. Among other provisions, the bills would:

Delay from 2012 to 2016 making accessible marksense (paper) ballots available statewide to voters with disabilities 
Restrict third-party voter registration efforts 
Make it much harder for grassroots groups to use the citizens’ initiative process 
Restrict nonpartisan election protection programs 
Reduce transparency in the funding of political advertisements 
Bar more voters from casting a regular ballot on Election Day 
Restrict the list of accepted forms of identification for voter registration and identification at the polls 
Expand the ability of lobbyists to influence legislators and legislation 
Restrict the ability of the governor to extend early voting 
Grant sweeping and unchecked power to the Department of State at a time when some supervisors interpret election laws to protect and expand voter rights in their respective counties, in contrast to the state’s restrictive interpretation of the same laws

These provisions needlessly infringe on the voting rights of Floridians, particularly those of historically disenfranchised communities, including elderly and low-income voters, and voters of color. Instead of fixing real problems—such as expanding access to early voting as you directed in November—they would disenfranchise eligible Floridians, for no legitimate reason and at significant taxpayer expense.

We respectfully urge you to right this wrong, and send a strong message to the legislature that you will not condone these unjustified and harmful measures.

For more information please contact Courtenay Strickland, Director of Public Policy, ACLU of Florida (305) 457-5422 cell or, or Carolyn Thompson, Voter Protection Advocate, The Advancement Project cell (786) 278-2361 or


Advancement Project
American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of Florida
Broward Election Reform Coalition
Business and Professional Women of Florida
Central Florida Teamsters Union
Clean Water Action
Common Cause of Florida
Democracía Ahora
Equality Florida
Florida AFL-CIO
Florida Alliance for Retired Americans
Florida Association of Planned Parenthood Affiliates
Florida Acorn
Florida Council of the Blind
Florida Conservation Alliance
Florida Consumer Action Network (FCAN)
Florida Health Care Association
Florida Immigrant Coalition
Florida Fair Elections Coalition
Florida National Organization for Women
Florida Public Interest Research Group (PIRG))
Florida State Conference NAACP
Florida Veterans for Common Sense
Florida Voters Coalition
Haitian-American Grassroots Coalition
Handicapped Adults of Volusia County (HAVOC)
Human Services Coalition
LatinoJustice PRLDEF
Latino Leadership
Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law
League of Women Voters
Miami-Dade Election Reform Coalition
Miami Worker Center
One Nation Volusia
People for the American Way
Palm Beach Coalition for Election Reform
Project Vote
Ruth’s List Florida
Sarasota Alliance for Fair Elections (SAFE)
SEIU Florida
Sierra Club
Unitarian Universalist Legislative Ministry of Florida

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