Florida State Senator Oscar Braynon has introduced SB 888 – Desiline’s Free and Fair Democracy Act – which will help modernize the state’s voting system and enshrine the right to vote into state law. Supported by Advancement Project, Florida New Majority and a coalition of other groups, the bill is named for Desiline Victor, a 102-year-old North Miami resident who stood in line for three hours before she could cast her ballot in the 2012 presidential election. The legislation:
Creates a preamble to the Election Code that ensures the right to vote for all qualified citizens and protects electors against discrimination based on gender, race, age, income level, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, or disability.
Clarifies that any restrictions on voting rights by the state must be narrowly tailored to serve a compelling government interest.
Allows for people convicted of a felony, who have completed their sentence, to register to vote. The voter registration forms would say: "I affirm I am not a convicted felon, or if I am, I have completed my sentence." This prevents a returning citizen from committing another felony by checking a box affirming they had their rights restored when they have not.
Prevents people with past felony convictions, who have pre-registered to vote, from being purged from the voting rolls while waiting for their rights to be restored.
Creates automatic voter registration at the Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles for voters who are updating or applying for a new state ID or driver license. Allows a voter to opt-out of registering to vote.
Allows any registered voter to update their voter registration information online, as well as look up their polling location, request a new voter ID card, etc.
Allows registered voters who have moved across county lines to update their registration address at the polls during early voting or on Election Day. A current provision, passed in 2011 under HB 1355, forces such voters to use provisional ballots. This increased the use of provisional ballots, which were not counted, in 2012.
The right to vote is the most fundamental element of our democracy. It is our hope that the Florida legislature will pass this bill to ensure that all eligible voters can finally exercise their right to vote free of obstacles.