Locals Testify On Florida's Voting Problems

Apr 1, 2014

Credit Sage Ross via Flickr
The National Commission on Voting Rights met at the University of Miami yesterday. National and local experts on voting law heard witness testimony on voter discrimination and election administration problems.  Each of the 15 witnesses spoke for about five minutes.

Desmond Meade, president of the Florida Rights Restoration Coalition, kicked off the commission with a personal story. "I am among the over 1.54 million Floridians who cannot vote as a result of Florida's policy on felon disenfranchisement", Meade said. He says in Florida, people have to wait 5 to 7 years after getting out of prison to even apply for restored rights. Then wait an additional 6 years to hear about that application. Meade was addicted to drugs and alcohol, homeless and served prison time. But he’s now a month away from graduating law school at Florida International University. Maribel Balbin spoke on behalf of the League of Women Voters in Miami-Dade. "We strongly believe that online voter registration is a critical step in bringing the sunshine state into the 21st century", Balbin said. Balbin says online voter registration will reduce the Miami-Dade polling place congestion that led to long lines in the election of 2012. Marc Dubin, a voting rights advocate, also had a problem with local polling places. "The decision by Miami-Dade County to close all restrooms at all polling places throughout the county to all voters", said Dubin. Dubin says this decision came after Miami-Dade County realized they could not ensure restroom access to all disabled voters, so restrooms were shut down altogether. The goal of this commission is to create reports out of the testimony in hopes that Congress will make changes to voting laws.