Fallout of Supreme Court Decision on Voting Rights Act Hits Florida

July 26 2013

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE                                           Contact:
July 26, 2013                                                                   Julian Teixeira
                                                                                       (202) 776-1812

NCLR urges Congress to act to protect voters

WASHINGTON, D.C.—In a move anticipated by civil rights groups, who feared that the Supreme Court’s decision last month to strike down Section 4(b) of the Voting Rights Act would lead to increased voter suppression, the State of Florida has announced it will resume the voter purges that were halted by court order last fall just prior to the election.  The purge was heavily criticized for unfairly targeting Hispanic and other minority voters; moreover, it was so inaccurate that the original list presented by the state included many U.S.-born citizens and was eventually pared down from roughly 180,000 registered voters to just 198.  Section 4(b) provided a formula for determining geographic areas subject to preclearance before enacting voting changes.

“The current situation leaves the gates wide open for voter suppression measures.  In 2012, we witnessed countless attempts to prevent eligible Americans from voting, particularly minority voters.  Florida was certainly one of the more notorious examples—shortening early voting days, purging voters from the rolls and placing undue burden on third-party voter registration groups, whose work is particularly important in increasing participation among underrepresented communities,” said Clarissa Martínez-De-Castro, NCLR Director of Immigration and Civic Engagement. 

With dismissal of the lawsuit that led to the lower court order to halt implementation of the purge, Florida has already announced plans to continue purging voters despite the fact that its lists contain many errors; in fact, the state’s own Supervisors of Elections refused to carry out the purge in 2012 because of the amount of errors on these lists.  One in three Latinos lives in areas covered under the Voting Rights Act.

“It is clear that a weakened Voting Rights Act (VRA) will only embolden efforts like this to marginalize eligible minority voters.  We are urging Congress to act quickly to make the VRA whole again and restore the public confidence in our voting process.  In addition, we are asking the U.S. Department of Justice, through its authority in the remaining sections of the VRA, to closely monitor what Florida election officials are doing in the state and take action where necessary.  We cannot allow this to erode the progress we’ve made over decades of hard work and sacrifice to ensure equal access to the voting booth,” concluded Martínez-De-Castro. 

NCLR—the largest national Hispanic civil rights and advocacy organization in the United States—works to improve opportunities for Hispanic Americans.  For more information on NCLR, please visit www.nclr.org or follow along on Facebook and Twitter.