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To: Moderators of Florida Governor Debates
Florida Governor Candidates: will you protect the right to vote?
Dear Debate Moderators,
We strongly encourage you to ask Florida Governor Candidates Rick Scott and Charlie Crist: if elected, will you support amendments to the Florida constitution that ensure the right to vote is guaranteed and cannot be infringed upon and secondly, an amendment that allows previously incarcerated people to vote?
Why is this important?
Florida is the epicenter of the right wing attack on the rising new majority's freedom to vote. Since 2011, the far-right in Florida has tried to pass more than 180 laws intended to restrict voting rights and keep youth, women, Black and Latino communities from the polls. In 2012, Governor Scott slashed the early voting period resulting in some voters waiting in lines as long as 9 hours. Scott has also repeatedly attempted to illegally purge the ballot rolls using unproven methods that result in suppressing the votes of legitimately registered voters.
Since the Supreme Court gutted the Voting Rights Act in 2013, Florida is no longer under federal protections from right-wing attacks on our right to vote. A state constitutional amendment guaranteeing the right to vote would subject voting laws to the highest level of scrutiny to ensure that elections officials and politicians cannot manipulate the rules to keep our communities from voting.
One of the most vicious laws attacking our communities ability to vote is Florida's laws banning formerly incarcerated people from voting. Of the 6 million people nationwide who are disenfranchised by previous criminal convictions, one-quarter of them are in Florida and nearly 23% of Florida's Black voting age population is barred from voting. (1) The state constitution should be amended so that voting rights are restored once a citizen has completed his or her time in prison and not be subject to Florida's long waiting periods where very few ever have rights restored.
On October 15th, the candidates will debate at Broward College, followed by a debate in Jacksonville on the 21st. These are tremendous opportunities to make sure that both candidates answer to Florida voters about whether they will protect our right to vote. The debate moderators should ask both candidates if they will support amendments to the Florida constitution that ensure the right to vote is guaranteed and cannot be infringed upon and secondly, an amendment that allows previously incarcerated people to vote.
Moderators for October 15th: Elliot Rodriguez, Rosemary Goudreau, Frank Denton, Bob Gabordi, Manny Garcia, Patricia Mazzei, and Jeremy Wallace
Moderators for October 21st: Jake Tapper and Kent Justice