Voting Rights Advocates Prepare for Session

Long lines and problems with absentee ballots plagued the 2012 presidential election in Florida.

Four months later, a fix is in the works. State lawmakers are vowing to change voting laws to shorten the wait time.

Crowded around a lectern in front of a voting office Thursday more than a dozen civil rights leaders laid out their election reform plan.

“We have a situation where whole segments of the population are disenfranchised from the voting process,” said Phelicia Steill with the National Congress of Black Women.

The group wants 14 days of early voting, the right to vote on the Sunday before an election and automatic restoration of voting rights for former felons.

“The Dream Defenders believe that the voting system has been carefully constructed to disenfranchise young black and brown people,” said Ciara Taylor with Dream Defenders.

Most of what the group is asking for is laid out in a bill sponsored by Senator Oscar Braynon. Braynon drafted the bill in honor of a 102 year old Miami woman who waited six hours to vote.

Desiline Victor was honored during the President’s State of Union Address.

The Desiline Free and Fair Democracy Act would create a system of automatic voter registration. It would also allow people to change their voting information at the polls on Election Day.

An elections reform bill has already passed a House committee. The Senate is preparing to pass a bill giving supervisors of elections the authority to make their own early voting schedules. The civil rights leaders fear the flexibility would lead to voter suppression in some counties.