One way that black religious communities in Florida empower their members is by transporting them from services straight to voting booths through the "Get Your Souls to the Polls" program, the Sunday before Election Day. But Florida Governor Rick Scott may eliminate that option. Along with other new voter laws being passed in that state, as well as others, the rules would require that precincts be closed on the Sunday before Election Day. The new rules would also require people who moved counties to file provisional ballots, allow counties to adjust voter precinct hours and reduce the number of early voting days and counties may reduce the hours their respective voting precincts are open for early voting from 96 hours per week to as few as 48.
In an article written by Jonathon Alter, an American author and journalist and contributor for NBC, Alter states,
"The Republican effort to restrict voting isn't just anti-Democrat, it's anti-democratic. No fair-minded person believes the tall tales of voters pretending they were someone else, which have been debunked by the Brennan Center for Justice and others. What fool would risk prison or deportation to cast a single vote?
This isn't about stopping vote-stealing and other corruption, for which there are already plenty of laws. It's about rigging the system to keep power
The big GOP victory in 2010 was essential to the Voter Suppression Project. With the help of ALEC, a conservative lobbying outfit that spreads cookie-cutter bills to state legislatures, Republicans moved with lightning speed to implement their scheme. Since 2011, 18 states have enacted voter-suppression bills, with similar ones pending in 12 more."
Rep. John Lewis of Georgia, who led voting rights supporters in a march in Selma, AL, in 1965, was beaten and tear-gassed during that march by state troopers in what became known as Bloody Sunday. The campaign arm for House Democrats is looking to Lewis for help in countering the voter suppression bills.
"I've been marching and preaching and fighting for voting rights for over 50 years. Today, we're seeing a deliberate and systematic effort on the part of Republican officials to prevent minorities, seniors, the young, and the poor from casting their ballots," the Georgia lawmaker says in an e-mail soliciting funds for the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee.
Melissa Harris-Perry, show host on MSNBC writes,
"It was nearly 50 years ago that Supreme Court Chief Justice Earl Warren declared, 'One man. One vote.' He was speaking in 1963, when the Court was grappling with the issue of equality in voting and representation.
But the idea he was expressing, that inside the ballot box all voices are created equal, is at the very heart of American democracy."
In defending the Florida law, attorney William Consovoy argued there was no evidence that a reduction in early voting reduced overall voter turnout.
He argued that the law, passed by a Republican-controlled legislature and signed by Republican Governor Rick Scott, aimed to fight voter fraud. None of the rules were directed at members of any minority or political party, he said.
Critics say such efforts aim to lower the participation of minorities because they historically vote Democratic.
The federal government said the new rules violated Section 5 of the 1965 Voting Rights Act requiring certain states with a history of discrimination to obtain federal approval before making changes to electoral rules.