Student organizations in Florida have called on the Legislature to establish an explicit right to vote, a task force on voting to expand and improve voting access, and repeal 2011’s House Bill 1355.
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After taking a strong stance against voter suppression in 2012 and recommending increased access to voting, students are once again helping to bring voting rights issues to the forefront in Florida. This year they are focused on the root of the problem, the right to vote, and the fact that it does not explicitly exist in either the state or federal constitutions.
Leading the way on the issue are the student governments of Palm Beach State College’s Boca Raton campus and Florida State University which have adopted resolutions calling for a state and federal right to vote, a state task force on voting to improve and expand voting access, and the repeal of 2011’s House Bill 1355 which created new barriers to voting.
Jerry Funt, a student leader in FSU’s Progress Coalition and an initiator of the right to vote resolution on campus, said, “The student body at Florida State has taken a position that our right to vote is to be cherished and protected.” He noted that this was quite timely given how University of Florida students were flatly denied the ability to have an early voting location on campus.
In collaboration with groups such as FairVote and the Florida Initiative for Electoral Reform (FLIER), Florida’s student leaders have had an ever increasing role in highlighting voting rights and voting access issues. At the same time, they have taken the initiative to support positive alternatives such as same day voter registration, automatic voter registration, and flexibility for elections supervisors to choose a wider variety of early voting locations, such as campuses.
Alongside the adoption of the right to vote resolutions, several legislative bills have been filed proposing many, though not all, of the conditions found in the campus resolutions. Specifically, HM 1283 and HB 1073 call for an explicit federal right to vote and the establishment of a state right to vote, respectively. Legislators have yet to propose the task force on voting or a full repeal of HB 1355.
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The Florida Initiative for Electoral Reform is a non-partisan coalition of groups and individuals recognizing the need for electoral reforms to enrich and expand democracy in our state and its localities. In addition to advocacy, we seek to provide education on electoral reform and the policy solutions necessary to realize it. We are working towards a vibrant democracy with accessibility for the average person, a competitive political environment, and pluralism in policy and decision making. For more information please visit http://www.floridaelectoralreform.org or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.