Florida Advocates Expand Access to Voter Registration and Vote-by-Mail, Expand Voter Education through Legal Victory in COVID-19 Elections Case - Advancement Project - Advancement Project

Florida Advocates Expand Access to Voter Registration and Vote-by-Mail, Expand Voter Education through Legal Victory in COVID-19 Elections Case

Racial justice Organizations Settle in Dream Defenders v. Ron DeSantis.Groups Vow to Continue Voting Rights Advocacy with Florida Supervisors of Elections

CONTACT
Jeralyn Cave, [email protected]
Shanae Bass, Demos, [email protected]
Elianne Ramos, LatinoJustice PRLDEF, [email protected] 

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – Today, voting rights advocates held a press conference delineating the details of a major legal settlement with the state of Florida, requiring the state to make voting changes amidst the coronavirus pandemic. The case against the state of Florida to ensure free, fair and safe elections was filed in March 2020 prior to the Presidential Preference Primary by Advancement Project National Office, Demos, and LatinoJustice PRLDEF on behalf of Dream Defenders, New Florida Majority, and Organize Florida. The terms of settlement will increase access to voter registration, force the state to inform citizens of their options in casting a vote-by-mail ballot, encourage Supervisors of Elections (SOEs) to use funding options to provide  prepaid postage for mail-in ballots, and require the Secretary of State to develop and execute a public relations campaign to inform voters of their options in casting a ballot, especially among communities of color, college-aged voters and seniors.

“Rumors circulated last night about this settlement, especially in partisan circles. Make no mistake. This settlement is a clear victory and step forward for Black and Latinx voters,” said Gilda Daniels, Litigation Director for Advancement Project National Office.  “Dream Defenders v. Ron DeSantis shows how broken the Florida election system is, and what needs to be done to ensure that every Floridian can vote in August and November. In settling this case, Florida has finally done one thing right during the COVID crisis. While the settlement is a step forward and many improvements to the system will result, the fight to vote for the right to vote continues.”

The settlement agreement requires:

  • The Secretary of State to contact eligible, but un-registered Floridians with an Electronic Registration Information Center (ERIC) postcard, inviting them to register to vote and informing them of the available methods of voting in Florida.
  • The Secretary of State to launch a social media or public relation campaign to inform voters of the three ways they can vote (early voting, vote-by-mail, or in-person on Election Day).  The Secretary must make efforts to promote these options to college-age voters, communities of color, and seniors.
  • The Secretary of State host at least one workshop with Supervisors of Elections encouraging them to maximize the use of dropboxes for vote-by-mail ballots, maximize the use of early voting days available to them by law, and educate SOEs on the use of adaptive technology like OmniBallot ahead of the August 2020 primary.
  • The Secretary of State to develop a 1-page document for Supervisors of Elections in counties with no pre-paid postage for vote-by-mail ballots, informing voters of their delivery options.

“We brought this lawsuit because we were, and continue to be, the closest to the problems facing everyday voters in Florida’s communities of color,” said Andrea Mercado, Executive Director of New Florida Majority.  “With this settlement, Florida has committed to educating and encouraging all 67 Supervisors of Elections to expand access to democracy in this historic 2020 presidential election cycle. This settlement is another step forward in the fight to secure free and safe elections for communities of color in Florida.”

“We will continue to bring voting problems to light. We will fight to make sure this settlement is fully implemented,” said Stephanie Porta, Executive Director of Organize Florida. “This settlement builds upon and strengthens our advocacy and organizing work across the State to defend each Floridian’s fundamental right to vote in 2020 and beyond.”

“We are encouraged to work with the state and the various parties in advance of the primary and general elections so that Florida gets it right,” said Kira Romero-Craft, Managing Attorney, SouthEast at LatinoJustice PRLDEF. “We are committed to continuing to work with our community to insure that voters are aware of their options to vote safely and to understand how to make sure their vote is counted.”

“When we filed this lawsuit in March, Florida had 149 coronavirus cases and 4 deaths. Today it’s up to 350,000 cases and over 5,000 deaths, and Florida is an epicenter of the worsening pandemic,” said Stuart Naifeh senior counsel at Demos. “The agreements we won in this case will protect Black and brown voters and all Floridians, ensuring they have multiple safe voting options and can be heard this November.”

“The Constitution and federal law require that Florida provide safe and accessible opportunities to vote during the COVID-19 pandemic that is currently ravaging Florida,” said Jeffrey Miller, Partner at Arnold & Porter.  “The settlement obligates the state to work with all of Florida’s counties to ensure that all voters — and particularly voters who are most vulnerable during this pandemic — are able to register and vote in the manner of their choosing, whether in-person or by mail; and to ensure that every vote is counted, even under the unique challenges of this pandemic. Arnold & Porter was proud to represent the plaintiffs in this important case.”

“This settlement will help assure that all Floridians can vote safely during the pandemic,” said John Ulin, of TroyGould P.C. in Los Angeles, “We know that millions of Florida voters will vote by mail or vote early for the first time this year, so they can avoid the health risks of crowded polling places and long lines.  Under the settlement, the State will work with supervisors of elections to make sure people know their options and are able to cast their ballots safely and knowing they will be counted. That’s a big victory for democracy in Florida.”

Listen to a recording of the press conference here (password: 3*z?PP?k).
Read the full settlement agreement:Settlement of Dream Defenders v DeSantis

###

The New Florida Majority (NewFM) is an independent political organization working to increase the voting and political power of historically marginalized and excluded constituencies toward an inclusive, equitable, and just Florida. For more information on NewFM, please visit our Website at www.newfloridamajority.org

Organize Florida is a community-based, nonprofit member organization of low and moderate-income people dedicated to the principles of social, racial, and economic justice and the promotion of an equal and fair Florida for all.

LatinoJustice PRLDEF works to create a more just society by using and challenging the rule of law to secure transformative, equitable and accessible justice, by empowering our community and by fostering leadership through advocacy and education. For more than 40 years, LatinoJustice PRLDEF has acted as an advocate against injustices throughout New York and beyond. To learn more about LatinoJustice, visit www.latinojustice.org.

Advancement Project 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. Visit www.advancementproject.org

 

 

 

KEEP READING

Advancement Project National Office Condemns New Anti-Voting Rights Law in Florida that Creates Office of Election Crimes, Mandates Special Voter-Fraud Police Officers

FLORIDA – Moments ago, Governor DeSantis signed into law a bill passed by the Republican Florida legislature that claims to fight “voter fraud” by creating an Office of Election Crimes and mandating the appointment of “special” members of law enforcement.  This comes on the heels of the conclusion of a trial challenging SB 90, another anti-voting rights measure in Florida. This law was successfully challenged in court by several national and Florida civil rights and voting rights groups, including Advancement Project. Similar anti-voting rights bills…

Read More
Civil Rights Organizations Celebrate Decision in Florida Voting Rights Trial

Chief U.S. District Judge Mark Walker released a landmark decision today in the nationally-watched voting rights trial on Florida’s SB 90 bill to strike down key provisions of the law. This restrictive voting law passed by the Republican-majority legislature and Gov. DeSantis  would have put in place new constraints on the use of drop boxes and organizations conducting voter registration drives, among other measures that would significantly hinder access to the vote for millions of state residents.

Read More
Trial Challenging Florida’s SB 90 Voter Suppression Law Begins Today

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. —  A trial challenging SB 90 (League of Women Voters v Lee), a Florida measure to make it harder and in many ways impossible for Black and Brown people to vote, kicked off on Monday, Jan. 31. This is one of the first trials of the year challenging anti-voting laws at the state level. It comes just as national voting rights efforts have stalled, with the Senate recently failing to change rules on the filibuster to pass voting rights.  SB 90 was passed by the Republican-controlled Florida Legislature and Gov. Ron DeSantis in spring…

Read More
Advancement Project National Office Statement on the Senate’s Failure to Pass Voting Rights Legislation

WASHINGTON — Last night, the Senate blocked the Freedom to Vote John R. Lewis Act from advancing to a final passage vote. In response to this, Judith Browne Dianis, Executive Director of the Advancement Project National Office released this statement: “Last night, all 50 Senate Republicans and two Senate Democrats voted to maintain the filibuster and block the Freedom to Vote Act and John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act from advancing to a final vote. These bills would protect voters and undo many of the barriers and restrictions that bar thousands of Black, Latinx, Asian, and…

Read More
Advancement Project National Office: “Passing voting rights legislation will protect right to free, fair, and accessible elections”

Washington, DC — In response to President Biden’s speech in Georgia today on voting rights legislation and the filibuster, Judith Browne Dianis, Executive Director of Advancement Project National Office, issued this statement: “While President Biden’s speech in Georgia today rings the alarm on voting rights, we need to put out the fire by immediately changing Senate rules on the filibuster to pass voting rights legislation.  “The urgency of this moment cannot be understated. Black voters and other voters of color need concrete action on voting rights immediately. Over 400 state-level bills undermining the right to vote were introduced last…

Read More
Advancement Project National Office Applauds the Passage of the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act

CONTACT Jeralyn Cave [email protected] 202-921-7321 WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, the U.S. House of Representatives passed H.R. 4, the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act. The legislation restores key provisions of the Voting Rights Act of 1965 and helps prevent racial discrimination in voting by requiring states to obtain federal approval before enacting specific types of voting changes known to be racially discriminatory. The legislation also restores voters’ ability to challenge racial discrimination in court. Advancement Project National Office, a national racial justice and civil rights organization, released the following statement: “We applaud the efforts of the U.S.

Read More
Congress Must Combat New Wave of Voter Suppression, Pass the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act

On Monday, the U.S. House Judiciary hosted a hearing on H.R. 4, the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act (VRAA), discussing the need to restore federal oversight of elections in the wake of a new wave of voter suppression sweeping the nation.

Read More
Advancement Project National Office Statement on Brnovich v. DNC Supreme Court Case

Today, the U.S. Supreme Court further weakened the Voting Rights Act in its ruling in Brnovich v. DNC, a case challenging voting laws in Arizona that discard provisional ballots cast in the wrong precinct and limit who can return absentee ballots. In a 6-3 decision, the Court ruled that Arizona's voting laws do not violate Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act, and its ban on ballot harvesting was not enacted with a racially discriminatory purpose. Advancement Project National Office, a 21st century racial justice organization release the following statement.

Read More
Our Democracy is in Danger, But You Can Help Save It

By Jenna Israel, Communications Intern As a young person, it often feels like there’s not a lot you can do to change a world that seems like it’s not listening to you. But for me, helping other people vote, engage their government, and make their voices heard is my activity of choice during my free time. It is empowering. One of the most heartbreaking things to hear when speaking to people in my community is that someone won’t vote. Sometimes it’s because they can’t. Maybe they’ve lost their right to vote as the result of incarceration. Or maybe they can’t…

Read More
With Democracy at a Crossroads, Senate Must End Jim Crow Filibuster

For Immediate Release: June 22, 2021 Contact: Jeralyn Cave, [email protected] WASHINGTON — In light of the Senate blocking S. 1, the For the People Act, Advancement Project’s national office, a multiracial civil rights organization, released the following statement:  “It is indisputable that Republican leaders would rather fuel their rhetoric of white grievance and villainize people of color than protect our democracy,” said Jorge Vasquez, Power and Democracy Director of Advancement Project National Office. “They have long attempted to distract from their failures and pass anti-voter bills at the state…

Read More