Thousands petition Department of Justice to ‘protect the vote’ in Florida


TALLAHASSEE – Today Progress Florida, ColorOfChange, Florida New Majority and announced they have collected more than 22,000 petitions from Floridians to the Department of Justice (DOJ) urging them to put the brakes on Gov. Rick Scott’s voter purge.

“Gov. Scott’s ill-conceived scheme to disenfranchise eligible Florida voters has already met resistance from voting rights advocates, the federal government, and Supervisors of Elections. Add the voices of these more than 22,000 concerned Floridians as well,” said Progress Florida Executive Director Mark Ferrulo.

Voting rights advocates have also called on the Department of Justice to launch an immediate investigation into Gov. Scott’s program to purge eligible Florida voters from the rolls.

The Miami Herald reported that Hispanics account for 58 percent of Gov. Scott’s purge list, but only 13 percent of the state’s registered voters. Moreover, Democrats and independent voters are most likely to be stripped from the voter rolls, while Republicans are among the least likely to face removal.

“This isn’t about vote protection. It’s about vote prevention,” said Maria Rodriguez of the Florida Immigrant Coalition.

“Rick Scott is on a mission to intimidate and disenfranchise Florida citizens he doesn’t want voting this November.  What other explanation can there be?” asked Gihan Perara, Executive Director of Florida New Majority.

“Voter fraud is a phantom bogeyman this governor is hiding behind in his overzealous attempt to keep certain voters, especially in communities of color, from going to the polls or having their votes counted.  If not, why are nearly 60 percent of those on the purge list Hispanic when Hispanics represent only 13 percent of Florida’s population?  If not, why are both Democratic and Republican Supervisors of Elections and the U.S. Department of Justice refusing to comply with this illegal purge?  These are questions Rick Scott needs to answer.”

“Partisan driven voter purging in Florida must end. We’re not done fighting Governor Scott’s racist voter purge. We will continue to work for our members, including the more than 14,000 Florida MoveOn members who called on the Department of Justice to block this purge,” said Political Action National Campaign Director Garlin Gilchrist II. “We’re pleased that the Justice Department has stepped in to make certain that every eligible voter in Florida can cast a ballot — without fear or discrimination — this Election Day. And we will not stop until we beat back all ‘Racism for Romney’ voter suppression tactics across the country that could benefit Republicans in November.”

“What we have here is a clear, coordinated effort to disenfranchise certain voting groups in order for Gov. Scott’s party to have an ill-gotten advantage in the critical swing state of Florida. Floridians will not stand for this outrage and the Department of Justice shouldn’t either,” said Ferrulo.

“More than 41,000 ColorOfChange members nationwide see the disaster looming in Florida and have demanded that Gov. Scott, Secretary Dentzler and county election officials halt this voter purge, which will disproportionately affect Black and Latino voters,” said ColorOfChange Campaign Director Arisha Hatch.

“We remember the maneuverings in 2000 that allowed Bush to claim victory in Florida by fewer than 600 votes. Unfortunately, the same politically-driven suppression efforts appear to be underway right now.  Floridians expect that their basic right to vote will be protected by state officials, and ColorOfChange will continue working with local partners to ensure that eligible voters maintain access to the polls.”

Petition gathering continues but to date, Progress Florida, ColorOfChange, Florida New Majority and have collected more than 22,000 petitions statewide.  These numbers represent only Florida residents; nationally the numbers are in the hundreds of thousands.

“Florida New Majority is proud to stand with our friends and partners in support of voters’ rights,” said Gihan Perara. “We wholeheartedly support citizens who want nothing more than the inalienable right to choose their government and the freedom to follow their dreams.”

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