The problems evident during early voting were predictable, could have been avoided, are correctable
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
November 5, 2012
ACLU of Florida Media Office, 786-363-2737, firstname.lastname@example.org
MIAMI- The following statement regarding voting rights, the long waits during early voting period, and how voters can prepare to vote on Election Day may be attributed to Howard Simon, Executive Director of the ACLU of Florida.
“Voting is every citizen’s right, and it is the duty of elected officials to make the exercise of a citizen’s right to vote as easy as possible.
“As we have seen from the early voting period, that is not what happened in Florida in the 2012 election.
“The problems during the early voting period were predictable – indeed, the ACLU of Florida warned about them - and could have been avoided had the Legislature and Gov. Rick Scott not reduced the number of early voting days. The ACLU of Florida, along with several other civil rights and voting rights organizations, challenged the reduction of early voting days in federal court. While we succeeded in preventing a reduction of early voting hours in some Florida counties, the legislature’s plan to reduce the number of early voting days went forward.
“As a result of the reduction in early voting days, many Floridians were required to stand in line for hours and hours to cast their votes. The Governor knew about this problem, received appeals to do something, but chose to look the other way. It is time for the Governor to begin to act like the Governor of all Floridians, and not a political partisan unconcerned that many Floridians were required to stand in line for hours to cast their vote. We urge the legislature and Governor to look at what happened during Early Voting and restore the early voting days to their previous number.
“The problems created by the legislature and the governor’s voting rights restrictions are clear. But Floridians can be prepared, informed, and not be discouraged. Voters can overcome the hurdles that have been put in their way and participate in our democracy by knowing the rules and preparing for Election Day.
“We urge voters to be as prepared as possible when heading to the polls on Election Day. Simple steps you can take in preparing to vote include checking the location of your polling precinct before you go, taking a photo ID, and studying the ballot before you go to help you make your decisions in advance.
“And remember, as long as you are in line by the time the polls close, no matter how long the line is, you will be allowed to vote. More voting tips and resources are available at www.aclufl.org/letmevote as well as at your local Supervisor of Elections’ website. When it comes to making your voice heard this election, being informed is being empowered.
“And even if you have done everything to prepare in advance, if you feel like your fundamental right to vote is being threatened at the polls, there are people working to protect your vote on Election Day. If you face challenges at the polls, you can contact the Election Protection hotline at 1-866-OUR-VOTE (1-866-687-8683) toll free with any problems or questions that arise.
“As Floridians are lining up with their neighbors at schools, libraries and civic buildings across the state to take part in their basic right as citizens, we ask that Florida’s 67 County Elections Supervisors respect and protect that right. The right of all citizens to vote in free and fair elections is the bedrock of our democracy, and the elections supervisors who administer the voting system are charged with enabling that right.
“The ACLU of Florida will be working throughout the state to make sure that everyone’s right to vote is protected. From Miami to Pensacola to Jacksonville to Tampa, our staff and volunteers will be active in defending the most fundamental right in our democracy on Election Day and beyond.”
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