U.S. Rep. Kathy Castor and other Florida members of Congress urged the federal Civil Rights Commission this week to hold a hearing regarding the intent and people behind Florida's voter suppression law, particularly following new information that the voter suppression effort was planned and coordinated. The new law limited access to the polls for minorities, seniors and college students. Among the changes, the new law eliminated the Sunday before Election Day as a day when voters could go to the polls. Data show that this had been a popular day for African-Americans and Hispanics to early vote. The Republican Legislature also targeted voter registration groups and made it more difficult to register voters.
A recent Palm Beach Post report cited former Gov. Charlie Crist, former Florida Republican Chairman Jim Greer and an anonymous group of Republican consultants alleging the state Legislature passed the bill to intentionally suppress Democratic turnout.
"I urge the Civil Rights Commission to investigate the depth and breadth of the voter suppression plan. I would like to know exactly who was behind it and how coordinated the efforts were," said Castor, who criticized the law when the Legislature passed it and when the governor signed it because of the negative impact it would have on minority turnout. "As if the barriers to voting weren't bad enough, these new allegations that the legislation was written specifically to stifle Democratic turnout are extremely troubling. We must do everything we can to increase voter turnout for all Floridians. Putting up roadblocks to voting is un-American. Intentionally trying to limit access to the polls for specific groups of voters is abominable."
In the 2008 general election in Florida, 33.2 percent of those who voted early on the last Sunday before Election Day were African-American, while 23.6 percent were Hispanic.