Keep Democracy SAFE

Election Reform

IMMEDIATE ISSUE for Florida-

Help gather petitions for the VOTING RESTORATION AMENDMENT:

1 million needed by December 31, 2017!

http://dos.elections.myflorida.com/initiatives/fulltext/pdf/64388-1.pdf

 A Jim Crow era provision in Florida’s Constitution continues to disenfranchise 1.5 million people (ex-felons) for life. In April 2017, the Florida Supreme Court certified the language for the 2018 Voting Restoration Amendment. Supporters of this amendment must now collect 1 million signatures from registered Florida voters by December 31, 2017, to guarantee 766,200 will be approved in Supervisors of Elections offices statewide by the Feb¬≠ruary 1, 2018, deadline to put the amendment on the November 2018 ballot. Most states don’t let felons vote. However, upon completion of sentence, which may include probation and/or parole, a clear majority of states restore voting rights to ex-felons.

 As a result of a clause from 1868 in Florida’s Constitution, updated in 1968, Florida is one of only 3 states (Kentucky and Iowa being the other two) that ban voting by ex-felons for life. No exceptions. Only the governor and Cabinet may intervene. As a result, out of all Americans who cannot vote post-sentence, 48% of them live in Florida. This means the shadow of Jim Crow hides legally in Florida’s Constitution, disenfranchising almost 10% of Florida's voting-age population. This is not just Florida's issue. It affects everyone because it shapes Florida’s significant national impact.

 After years of effort by committed volunteers, a counter to this power has emerged. The Florida Rights Restoration Coalition (FloridaRRC.com) mustered 71,212 petition signatures, enough for Florida’s Supreme Court to consider and then approve language for the 2018 Voting Restoration Amendment. The next hurdle is to gather a million additional petition signatures by December 31, 2017, to ensure there are at least 766,200 valid signatures by Feb. 1, 2018, to qualify for the November 2018 ballot.

If you are interested in helping this effort, go to www.miamirights.com and watch Samantha Bee's video for an overview of the problem and then take action at https://secondchances.peoplepower.org/?source=UUJF or contact Kindra Muntz: kindra@uujusticefl.org, or 941.266.8278. You can also help by rallying public support to reach the 60 percent approval threshold necessary for passage in the November 2018 election.


ELECTION REFORM COVERS MANY TOPICS

 Election reform includes not only protecting voters' rights, but ensuring the integrity of the voting machines, chain of custody of ballots, and voting procedures. Those are controlled by the Supervisors of Elections in each county who conduct the elections, the County Commissioners who buy the equipment, the Secretary of State in each state who establishes the rules, and the legislatures that pass laws regarding election procedures and what type of voting equipment can be used.  And of course, it involves addressing the corruption of our democracy by large donations from individuals, corporations and Super PACS that can sway the decisions of our legislators.

FLORIDA LEGISLATURE PREEMPTS ALL POWER OVER ELECTIONS

In Florida, despite home rule in charter counties like Sarasota which lets certain counties create their own local laws to protect their citizens, in 2010 the legislature passed a sweeping elections bill giving itself all power over elections and quashing the Sarasota County charter amendment passed by the people in 2006 for paper ballots and reasonable audits of voting machine counts to verify electronic machine integrity. In 2011 and 2012 the Florida legislature went even further to limit days for Early Voting, toughen ID requirements, prevent those who changed their address recently from voting on a regular ballot, tighten restrictions on petition-gathering, and impose severe limits and penalties on voter registration. All this was done by an 80% Republican-controlled legislature in a state where Democrats outnumber Republicans in voter registration and Independents comprise another 20%. Something is wrong with this picture. The wishes of the people are not being fairly represented. Voting is being suppressed.

REDISTRICTING REFORM CRITICAL

Key to having fair representation in each state is the decennial electoral redistricting process. The need for redistricting reform is so critical nationwide and especially in Florida, that we are including it as a separate category among our core issues, even though it is part of overall election reform. If politicians can carve out electoral districts to make sure they get reelected, we have no democracy, but perpetuation of leaders who are less responsive to the people, and more to their large campaign donors.

TIME TO CONNECT THE DOTS

By connecting the dots among the issues of election reform, campaign finance reform, and media reform, and the overarching issue of corporate control of this country, we can see how these all bear on how the people of this country think and vote for candidates, and whether their votes are counted at all or counted the way they cast them.

It is time for all citizens of this country to connect the dots, see through the hype, realize what each party stands for and how those philosophical differences guide what laws are passed. Electing leaders is not just about choosing the person with the smiling face and the friendly handshake and the good looking TV ads. There are long-term consequences of our votes. We must understand the differences between the candidates and the political parties, not be swayed by campaign promises, and make an educated choice of our elected leaders. And vote we must, to keep our democracy safe. See ACT NOW--Election Reform.