Florida Gulf Coast University hosted a panel discussion on minorities and politics Thursday. The panel included state lawmakers, who discussed voting rights in Florida.
The U.S. Supreme Court threw out a key provision in the Voting Rights Act this year. Since then, many voting rights activists have been advocating for Congress or state leaders to write up their own protections.
Before speaking to students at FGCU, State Sen. Dwight Bullard, D-Miami, who represents parts of Collier and Hendry counties,, said he’s very concerned about voting rights in Florida.
“One thing that I am strongly considering looking at a piece of legislation that really makes voting a fundamental right for Floridians and really addressing that issue whether its statutorily or within the Constitution,” he said.
Bullard’s new colleague in the Florida Legislature and fellow panelist was state Rep. Shevrin Jones, D-Broward County. He said students and young people in particular should become active around the issue of voting rights.
“This is our fight of our time,” Jones said. “And if you believe in doing what is right, then this is what we have to fight for—to make sure that the rights of all are not taken away from us.”
In 2010, the Florida Legislature passed sweeping changes to the state’s election laws, which many experts say made it harder for minorities and young people to vote. After controversial voting issues in the 2012 presidential election, state lawmakers reversed those changes.