APOPKA - On Friday, non-partisan organizations who do voter registration work in our diverse communities comE together to denounce a voter disenfranchisement bill that targets the work that we do specifically. PCB SAC 23-01 & SB7050 was already heard and passed in the House State Affairs Committee and it has also passed two Senate Committees.
These bills dramatically increase fines and put in place harsher deadlines for these community organizations, making it even harder and more intimidating for them to continue supporting voters. The fines will be crippling to many of our organizations who do the hard work of registering communities that are often left behind.
The fines coupled with shorter deadlines will especially impact smaller organizations that are often closest to marginalized communities. This is deliberately designed to attack and erase our voter registration efforts and thus have fewer people of color registered to participate in our democracy.
1 out of every 10 Black voters and 1 out of every 10 Latino voters are registered by third-party voter registration organizations, as well as 2 out of every 100 white voters. These organizations are essential for engaging Black and brown communities in the democratic process and play a vital role in registering voters of all political stripes.
Ricardo J. Negron-Almodovar, FL Senior Campaign Manager at All Voting is Local Action,
“The state is looking to target people registering voters out in the community. This proposed law will severely hinder community organizations’ ability to provide services in areas that lack resources and it will result in more Floridians not being registered to vote.”
Felipe Sousa-Lazaballet, Executive Director of the Hope CommUnity Center,
“When we register people to vote we do it in Spanish, and Portuguese, and Haitian Creole. We do it that way because when people speak your language you feel a deeper connection with them. This bill attacks organizations like Hope. When people who have the right to work knock on our door and tell us their stories, we’re more likely to come out an vote. While we are being attacked we are showing unity and showing what democracy really looks like. This is what Florida looks like.”
Nezahualcoyotl Xiuhtecutli, General Coordinator Farmworker Association of Florida,
“Those who cannot vote because they are not yet citizens are so inspired by are so inspired by the exercise of democracy that it’s frustrating to see those who have that right not exercise it. I know, I was one of those people who was so inspired I tried to get my friends who were citizens out to vote. Organizations that do this work do it for communities that are already marginalized and disenfranchised.”
Pedmarlin Occellus, Central Florida Organizer for the Florida Immigrant Coalition,
“As the majority legislators are doing everything in their power to erase our history, attack our families, and make it more expensive to live here, this bill comes as another attack on our liberties and freedoms. I am an immigrant from Haiti, I am also a US Citizen. Those two things can be true at the same time. I was a green card holder for 10 years before I became a citizen because let me tell you something, there is no "line", it is extremely difficult to regulate your status and while you are here as a DACA recipient or a green card holder, fighting for your American Dream, you need to work! You need to put food on the table. And let me tell you something else, only documented immigrants with legally issued work permit can do this work. It is already the law. This bill will make it so that green card holders can't do this work. And I'll ask you one thing: "How many US Citizens can register Creole-speaking US citizens in a culturally competent way?" (said in creole). Most of you didn't even understand that I just asked, which illustrates the answer to my question. Haitians in our state, who can legally vote, will feel more comfortable registering with other Haitians who can reach out in Creole. And we all know that mainstream voter outreach programs are not knocking on doors in the Haitian neighborhoods of Texas Avenue and Oakridge. Fewer Haitians registering means fewer Haitian voters. That is what this bill wants!"
Tosh Pyakuryal, from Florida Student Power said,
“This bill will place unreasonable restrictions on the interactions of our organizations with our communities and is part of an concerted effort to suppress voters.”
Johana Florez, Voter Registration Manager with Alianza Center,
“I am a Colombian immigrant and the Voting Registration Manager with Alianza Center. I have a legal work permit and have been doing my job well and with passion for over 6 years. At Alianza we do the job to register Puerto Ricans and other Hispanic voters. We have registered a sizeable number of voters, and in that excersice have uplifted the voices and power of our communities. Hearing about this law hurt my heart. I love my job. And the people we register would have otherwise never done so. Our people don’t usually register with people who don’t speak their language and don’t share in their lived experiences. This bill would bar me and my colleagues from servicing our communities.”
Melissa Marantes Executive Director of the Orlando Center for Justice,
“We need to understand what the law already says: individuals are allowed to work if they are permanent residents or have another status that providest them with a legal work permit. So what are we doing here? We all want fair and just voting and fair and just elections. The rules are already in place.”
Cristal Guzman, from Poder Latinx said,
“We will not be intimidated! The attacks on organizations that do voter registration work in communities of color are not going unnoticed. This is a bad bill that makes it harder for U.S. citizens of color to vote. This bill will negatively impact organizations that do this work like Poder Latinx. This bill attacks the ability of our communities to be civically engaged.”