The non-partisan organizations who do voter registration work in our diverse communities are again hit by a provision in a voter disenfranchisement bill that targets us specifically. PCB SAC 23-01 & SB7050 was heard today in the House State Affairs Committee and will be heard on Thursday at the Senate Fiscal Policy Committee.
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.
The organizations that do intentional outreach into marginalized communities to register voters are non-partisan and do the work with members of those same communities, who have the cultural competencies and language to do that critical work. Who, if not our cultural-competent non-profit organizations, will do the work of going into communities that are systematically forgotten by mainstream voter registration outreach efforts? The answer is no one, and they know that!
In Florida, it is already the law that people who are not employees of the organization cannot do voter registration work. This means that only people that already possess a legally issued and valid work permit are the ones who are already doing this work. They now want to make it so that people who are navigating the complex immigration system and do possess a work permit cannot do this work either.
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.
Felipe Sousa-Lazaballet, Executive Director of the Hope CommUnity Center said,
“Our organizations are doing the hard work of creating a more robust democracy for all Floridians. This targeted attack on our community organizations seeks to undermine one of the most beautiful American traditions- voter registration drives. This law will hurt our already battered democracy in Florida, our collective right to encourage our neighbors to vote, and non-profit organizations. We call on legislators in Tallahassee to focus on real issues in Florida like the rising sea level and affordable housing.”
Ricardo J. Negron-Almodovar, FL Senior Campaign Manager at All Voting is Local Action
“Nonpartisan organizations that register voters provide critical services to often-overlooked communities and ensure they have access to our democratic processes. These proposed changes in law will severely hinder their ability to provide services in areas that lack resources and will result in more Floridians being unable to register to vote before the already limiting statutory deadlines.”
Nezahualcoyotl Xiuhtecutli, General Coordinator Farmworker Association of Florida
“With widespread voter apathy, getting out the vote is a vital part of our democracy, and the work is so inspiring that immigrants are often some of the most vocal advocates of exercising Anerican Citizens’ right to vote. Attempts to disengage those members of our society from the process hurts our communities, our society, and our nation. They hurt and dampen our democracy.”
Tessa Petit, Executive Director of the Florida Immigrant Coalition said,
“Floridians who are immigrants believe in the promise and power of American democracy. That is why they are some of the most ardent supporters of the work that it takes to register their friends and family members who have the privilege of being U.S. citizens to exercise their right to the ballot box. Criminalizing that work is an attack on workers, democracy, and our non-partisan organizations.”
Ana Guevara, of Florida Student Power Network said,
“Since 2018, as an organization we have seen the constant attack at the state legislature towards immigrants, education, our LGBTQ+ community, and much more. This year, we have witnessed an attack on our communities across the state and there has been a massive attack towards our immigrant community and NOW our Democracy. By stopping non-U.S. citizens to work on voter registration, they are oppressing our communities and stopping organizations across Florida from registering the U.S. citizens that make up our communities. This is an attack to our access to Democracy and we will not sit idle as we watch the legislature continue to oppress us.”
Marcos Vilar, Executive Director for Alianza for Progress, said,
“Immigrants who are here legally and have work permits should not be limited from working in our democratic process. This xenophobic measure proposed by lawmakers in Tallahassee targets and discriminates against organizations such as Alianza who are producing tomorrow’s leaders within our communities. We have always had Cubans, Venezuelans and Colombian immigrants work on voter registration along with us in the Puerto Rican Community. This hateful and discriminatory proposal is an attack on Latino people in Florida and pushes hate and division, not unity.”