Determined Florida Voter, Age 102, Among First Lady’s Guests At State Of The Union Address
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
February 12, 2013
Contact: Leila McDowell, 202.306.7947, or firstname.lastname@example.org
DETERMINED FLORIDA VOTER, AGE 102, AMONG FIRST LADY’S GUESTS AT STATE OF THE UNION ADDRESS
Miami Woman’s Three-Hour Wait in Voting Line is a Symbol of a Broken Election System
FLORIDA WELCOME HOME PLANNED
(Washington) – Desiline Victor, a 102-year-old woman from North Miami, will attend President Barack Obama’s State of the Union address tonight as a guest of First Lady Michelle Obama. During the 2012 elections, Victor waited in line to vote for three hours before wearily leaving her polling place and returning a second time. Her courageous story represents America’s determined voters, as well as a broken election infrastructure in need of serious reform.
Fixing the problems in the nation’s voting system, which contributed to outrageously long lines and wait times of more than six hours, will be among the themes of the president’s speech.
Born in Haiti in 1910, Victor is a naturalized citizen and retired farmworker who set out to take advantage of Florida’s early voting period last October. When she arrived at her polling place, a local library, on the morning of October 28, wait times were already up to six hours. Determined to cast her ballot, Victor stood in line for three hours until citizen advocates complained that the elderly woman struggled on her feet.
A poll worker asked her to come back later that day, assuring her that she would not have to wait then. On Victor’s second visit that evening, she was finally able to vote – and emerged from the building to wild cheers and applause from the crowd of waiting voters.
Judith Browne Dianis, co-director of Advancement Project, a civil rights group that met Victor while doing voter protection advocacy work, and brought her to Washington this week, pointed out that tens of thousands of other Americans did not get to vote, after facing similar problems at the polls. “Citizens who take responsibility to carry out their civic duty are still not guaranteed their right to vote in this country,” said Browne Dianis. “And while Ms. Victor’s determination to make her voice heard was heroic, she should never have had to wait in line for more than three hours to do it. These problems could be fixed with federal voting standards, including early voting and modernized registration, to ensure that elections are free, fair and accessible. Currently we have 123,000 different jurisdictions who run elections 13,000 different ways”
Gihan Perera, executive director of Florida New Majority, a statewide civil rights organization that recently released policy recommendations for election reform to the Florida legislature, said, “Ms. Victor represents the kind of heroines and heroes that we had in Florida, who, despite the legislative obstacles put in their way, came out in droves and exercised their human and constitutional right to vote. What needs to be done now is to honor those efforts by restoring the public confidence in our voting system and ensuring that democracy works for all.”
Local groups are planning a welcome home on Wednesday with signs, flowers and balloons at the airport where she is expected to speak along with community leaders who are pushing for changes in Florida’s electoral system. For information on the welcome home contact Elbert Garcia at 786 505 1963 . email@example.com.