Hastings to Participate in Committee on House Administration Field Hearing on Voting Rights and Election Administration in Fort Lauderdale

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Washington, D.C., May 2, 2019 | comments

Congressman Alcee L. Hastings (D-FL) will participate in a field hearing on Voting Rights and Election Administration, hosted by the Committee on House Administration (CHA) Subcommittee on Elections. The hearing will be held on Monday, May 6th at 10:00 AM in Room 422 of the Broward County Governmental Center, located at 115 South Andrews Avenue, Fort Lauderdale, Florida 33301.  

DETAILS:    
     
WHO:
  Congressman Alcee L. Hastings
WHAT:

  Committee on House Administration
Subcommittee on Elections Field Hearing
SUBCOMMITTEE MEMBERS:


  Rep. Marcia L. Fudge (D-OH), Chairwoman
Rep. G. K. Butterfield (D-NC)
Rep. Pete Aguilar (D-CA)
ALSO ATTENDING:

  Rep. Barry Loudermilk (R-Ga), Member, CHA
Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-FL)
WITNESSES:






  Andrew Gillum, Chair, Forward Florida
Juan Cartagena,
President and General Counsel, LatinoJustice PRLDEF
Marleine Bastien,
Founder and Executive Director, Fanm Ayisyen Nan Miyami, Inc. (FANM)/Haitian Women of Miami)
Karen Wilkerson,
League of Women Voters of Voters of Florida
Judith Browne Dianis,
Executive Director, Advancement Project
Logan Churchwell,
Public Interest Legal Foundation
Additional witnesses to be announced
WHEN:
  Monday May 6th at 10:00 AM
WHERE:


  Broward County Governmental Center
Room 422
115 South Andrews Avenue
Fort Lauderdale, Florida 33301

Contact for Hearing:

Peter Whippy and Mannal Haddad – 202-225-7043 (CHA Democrats)
Courtney Parella – 202-579-3361 (CHA Republicans)

Background:
 
Florida’s elections have been criticized in light of poor election administration and voter suppression efforts, which have disproportionately disenfranchised low-income and minority communities. This hearing will explore attempts to undermine restoration of voting rights, examine evidence of voter purging, as well as voter suppression efforts which have made it increasingly difficult for voters to exercise their right to vote.
 
During the 2018 election, Floridians approved a constitutional amendment (“Amendment 4”) which restored voting rights to 1.4 million individuals with prior felony convictions once they completed the terms of their sentence. However, two bills currently moving through the state legislature would require former felons to pay fines and fees before having their voting record restored. While the majority of those with a felony conviction in Florida are white, the proposed bills would disproportionally affects African-Americans and unfairly disenfranchises those unable to pay.
 
Florida has repeatedly attempted to purge alleged noncitizens from their voter rolls, first by comparing their lists with a driver’s license database in 2012 and then using the Department of Homeland Security’s Systemic Alien Verification for Entitlements (SAVE) database. Both databases are unreliable methods for affirming citizenship and these practices unfairly target people of color. In effect, the voter purge rate in Florida has steadily increased since 2008 and has risen over 7% between December 2016 and September 2017 alone. According to the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights, “the great majority of voters on the purge list were people of color.”
 
In August 2018, voting rights advocates sued the Florida Secretary of State and Supervisors of Elections in 32 Florida counties for violating the Voting Rights Act by failing to provide bilingual voting materials and assistance for Spanish-speaking U.S. citizens. Among the groups affected by the English-only voting materials were Puerto Ricans who relocated to Florida in the aftermath of Hurricane Maria.
 
The 2018 recount for three key races – Senate, Governor, and Agriculture Commissioner - exposed a number of Florida’s election administration issues. In Broward County, ballot design may have confused voters and potentially contributed to nearly 30,000 undervotes for the Senate race. In addition, Broward County was criticized for a lack of transparency during the election, mixing more than a dozen rejected ballots with valid ones, and missing the deadline for a machine-based recount.
 
A federal judge also found that Florida’s election offices unconstitutionally applied the signature match law after more than 3,700 vote-by-mail or provisional ballots were rejected by canvassing boards, despite those officials having no formal handwriting-analysis education or training. Federal election law requires that voters be given the opportunity to “cure” mismatched signatures, but Judge Walker found that Florida’s practice had “no standards, [and] an illusory process to cure and no process to challenge the rejection.”
 
Congress has the power and responsibility to ensure that every American can exercise their franchise. Accordingly, the Committee on House Administration Elections Subcommittee is hosting this and subsequent hearings to assess voting rights and election administration issues.
 
Congressman Alcee L. Hastings serves as Vice-Chairman of the House Rules Committee, Chairman of the U.S. Helsinki Commission, and Co-Chairman of the Florida Delegation.

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