Advocates File Lawsuit Urging Florida Secretary of State Detzner to Extend Voter Registration Deadline In Wake of Hurricane Michael - Advancement Project - Advancement Project

Advocates File Lawsuit Urging Florida Secretary of State Detzner to Extend Voter Registration Deadline In Wake of Hurricane Michael

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE – October 10, 2018

MIAMI, FL – Today, the ACLU of Florida, American Civil Liberties Union, Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law and Advancement Project’s national office are suing on behalf of three voting rights organizations — New Florida Majority, Common Cause, and Mi Familia Vota Education Fund — seeking a statewide extension of the voter registration deadline to Tuesday, October 16 as a result of Hurricane Michael and reported problems with the state’s online voter registration system in the final days of the registration period.

Florida Secretary of State Ken Detzner declared Tuesday that under Florida Governor Rick Scott’s direction, voter registration would only be re-opened for one day in counties directly affected by the state of emergency declared in response to Hurricane Michael, and only for voters submitting paper voter registration applications.

“It is very sad that instead of doing everything in their power to make sure those affected by the storm can still exercise their constitutional right to vote, Governor Scott and Secretary Detzner continually refuse to do so,” said Nancy Abudu, legal director, ACLU of Florida. “Hurricane Michael is a potentially catastrophic natural disaster, and all we are asking is that the Governor and Secretary exercise the full extent of their authority to ensure that all Floridians have equal and fair access to the ballot box this November.”

“In the face of inaction by state officials, we are turning to the courts to ensure that all would-be voters who seek to exercise their voice this election cycle will not face disenfranchisement as a result of factors that are beyond their control, said Kristen Clarke, president and executive director of the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law. “Our thoughts are with Floridians who risk braving this vicious storm. We know that a full recovery includes making sure that everyone is where they should be had the storm not hit. That holds for all things of value, including the right to vote. With this suit, we are asking the court to give back to Florida voters their lost opportunity to register to vote.”

Gov. Scott’s Declaration of a State of Emergency impacts 35 of Florida’s 67 counties, with numerous mandatory and voluntary evacuation orders and interrupted the voter registration process at a crucial time: in the final two days of the registration period of the 2016 General Election, tens of thousands of Floridians registered to vote; and in 2012, approximately 181,000 Floridians signed up in the last nine days of registration. This lawsuit seeks a court order to compel the state to extend the voter registration deadline for an additional week statewide, in light of the Hurricane.

“Voters should not have to risk their life to register to vote,” said Julie Ebenstein, senior staff attorney with the ACLU Voting Rights Project. “Florida can prevent widespread disenfranchisement by extending its voter registration deadline to accommodate the tens of thousands of Floridians affected by Hurricane Michael. It simply refuses to do so.”

The lawsuit argues that the state’s failure to extend the registration deadline and denial of critical voter registration opportunities violate the Fourteenth Amendment. Tens of thousands of Floridians will likely be prevented from participating in November’s General Election absent an extension. In a similar lawsuit in 2016, a federal court ordered the extension of the voter registration deadline when Hurricane Matthew was bearing down on the state at the time of the registration deadline.

Besides the disruptions caused by Hurricane Michael, users across Florida have also reported experiencing problems with the online voter registration system, compounding the burden on Floridians ability to register to vote.

“Hurricane Michael could prevent countless voters, regardless of political affiliation, from registering to vote,” said Moné Holder, senior program director, New Florida Majority. “This act of nature, coupled with documented voter registration website malfunctions is a double blow to our communities. Voting is a fundamental right and we must ensure that Floridians have an unfettered opportunity to participate in the electoral process.”

“This is another missed opportunity by the State of Florida to minimize the burden on the lives of Floridians who may suffer untold destruction from Hurricane Michael,” said Donita Judge, Co-Program Director and Senior Attorney of Advancement Project National Office Project’s Power & Democracy Program. “The state should not add to this burden by stripping would be voters of the opportunity to register and vote in this historic election.”

A copy of the complaint can be found here: https://www.aclufl.org/sites/default/files/complaint_-_04915753592.pdf

 

# # #

About the ACLU of Florida

The ACLU is a nonprofit, nonpartisan organization that works in courts, Congress, legislatures, and communities to protect and advance the constitutional rights of everybody. With a nationwide network and more than 2 million members and supporters, the ACLU takes up the toughest civil liberties fights. Learn more at aclu.org and aclufl.org.

About the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law

The Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law (Lawyers’ Committee), a nonpartisan, nonprofit organization, was formed in 1963 at the request of President John F. Kennedy to involve the private bar in providing legal services to address racial discrimination. Now in its 55th year, the Lawyers’ Committee is continuing its quest to “Move America Toward Justice.” The principal mission of the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law is to secure, through the rule of law, equal justice for all, particularly in the areas of criminal justice, fair housing and community development, economic justice, educational opportunities, and voting rights. For more information, please visit https://lawyerscommittee.org

 

About New Florida Majority

The New Florida Majority is an independent political organization working to increase the voting and political power of marginalized and excluded constituencies toward an inclusive, equitable, and just Florida. For more information, please visit https://newfloridamajority.org/wp/

 

About  Advancement Project

Advancement Project’s National Office is a next generation, multi-racial civil rights organization. Rooted in the great human rights struggles for equality and justice, we exist to fulfill America’s promise of a caring, inclusive and just democracy. We use innovative tools and strategies to strengthen social movements and achieve high impact policy change. For more information, please visit https://advancementproject.org/.

 

 

KEEP READING

Trial Challenging Missouri’s Voter ID Law Set to Start Monday

CONTACT: Joshua Garner 240-326-3874 [email protected] JEFFERSON CITY, MO — In a case that could determine the fate of Missouri’s voter ID law, a coalition of local and national voter advocates kick off a trial Monday in a legal challenge to the implementation of that law. The trial will begin at 9 a.m. August 19 in Cole County Circuit Court before Judge Jon Beetem. At stake is Missourians’ fundamental right to vote. “States are not allowed to make an end-run around voting rights by imposing confusing and burdensome changes to the voting rules and then failing to ensure…

Read More
Advancement Project Turns 20

  Freedom Now! Freedom Forever! Attend our 20th anniversary celebration, Thursday, October 17. Buy Tickets Sponsor the Movement See sponsorship levels for our 20th anniversary celebration. Learn More Movement Lawyering Conference Join us on Wednesday, October 16, to learn about holistic strategies for racial justice movement lawyering. Learn More Looking into the Future In 2045, a majority of Americans will be people of color. The question is: are you ready to leverage your power?…

Read More
Enough is Enough

Chief Justice Roberts wrote in the majority opinion, "We conclude that partisan gerrymandering claims present political questions beyond the reach of the federal courts."

Read More
Civil Rights Organization Vows to Continue Fight to Ensure All Eligible Floridians Can Register and Vote, Despite Efforts to Undermine Amendment 4

“This legislation is about deterring Floridians who are less likely to vote for the current crop of legislators from casting a ballot – and that means Black & Brown people."

Read More
It’s Shelby Week! Congress Must Pass H.R. 4 to Strengthen the Voting Rights Act

On this National Day of Racial Healing, we must recognize that people of color are not given the chance to heal from their past.

Read More
The Voting Rights Saga in Florida Continues

Judith Browne Dianis testifies at Congressional Hearing on the State of Voting Rights in Florida “As we’ve learned in Florida, it’s too late after the vote is taken and counted to protect the civil rights of people of color.  And the problem is, the federal government is not watching.” On Monday, May 6, 2019, Advancement Project National Office testified before the U.S. House Committee on Administration in Miami during a hearing on the status of voting rights in Florida. As Judith Browne Dianis, our executive director, detailed in her testimony, Florida is a battleground in…

Read More
Advancement Project National Office: ‘We Must Shed Light on Discriminatory Voting Practices Now’

National Civil Rights Organizations Launch WeVoteWeCount.org to Collect Stories of Voter Suppression, Drive Change Ahead of 2020 Presidential Election.

Read More
Because Justice Never Takes a Day Off

On April 28, 1999, Advancement Project National Office opened its doors. We were bright-eyed, yet already seasoned, ready to take on voting rights with a racial justice lens. We were winning cases and building a movement right out the door. Now that we have been addressing not only voting rights, but immigrant justice, criminal legal system issues and education justice for 20 years, some may ask what are we doing today to ensure the country’s next 20 years are freer for people of color? Glad you asked.

Read More
Amendment 4 Implementation Bills Are Yet Another Effort to Silence Voters

Florida lawmakers are intent on passing legislation that will undercut the passage of rights restoration for Floridians with prior felony convictions. Florida deserves better. Advancement Project National Office stands with the Florida Rights Restoration Coalition (FRRC) in opposing any Amendment 4 legislation that creates additional barriers to voting for Returning Citizens who would otherwise be eligible based on the passage of Amendment 4. Any legislation proposed should neither limit the rights created by Amendment 4 nor infringe upon the will of Florida voters. Florida’s current completion of sentence standard is built upon three basic components: A person has completed…

Read More
Voting Rights Restoration

The time is ripe to fundamentally reform our democracy.

Read More