Six congressional Democrats are calling for a federal investigation into a 2011 Florida voting law following a Palm Beach Post report that suggested Republicans intended to suppress Democratic turnout with the new rules.
The multi-pronged law, H.B. 1355, put restrictions on third-party registration groups that were so burdensome they were ultimately struck down by a federal court. It also reduced early voting from 14 to eight days, ending voting on the Sunday before Election Day, when many minority voters participated in Souls to the Polls events in 2008.
Democrats including Democratic National Committee Chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz are asking for the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights to hold a hearing on the law on the grounds that it may have intentionally limited minority, seniors', and college students' access to the polls.
From the letter:
In light of these allegations, we are extremely concerned over the integrity of this law and the justification for its implementation. Therefore, we believe that a hearing must be held as soon as possible. As you know, trust in our democracy is what holds our country together.
The early voting restrictions, combined with record-length ballots, led to long lines across Florida for the duration of early voting and on Election Day, inspiring thousands to sign a petition calling for Governor Rick Scott to expand early voting.
According to the Palm Beach Post report, former Republican Governor Charlie Crist was approached during his term in office about shrinking early voting "in an effort to suppress Democratic turnout."
When asked about it on PoliticsNation on Nov. 2 Crist, now an independent, said, "It is hard to interpret it any other way, Reverend Al. I think it is voter suppression."