Will Voting Rights Change Impact Florida?

, Daily Business Review

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That disappointed some groups involved in battles with the state of Florida over the last several years on everything from a massive rewriting of the state's elections laws to efforts to remove the names of suspected non-citizens from the voting rolls.

"We're very concerned on behalf of the voters of Florida and the groups we work with on the ground there," said Katherine Culliton-Gonzalez, director of voter protection for Advancement Project, a Washington-based group involved in some of the legal fights in Florida.

One shortcoming of the preclearance formula, Culliton-Gonzalez said, is that only a judge's ruling or a denial of preclearance for a covered jurisdiction counts as a violation. If legal settlements or consent decrees were also included in the definition, she said, Florida would be eligible for coverage.

The new standard could actually encourage voting-rights groups and others to continue legal fights in hopes of getting a court order that would count toward preclearance, she said.

But advocates also note that the state would still be eligible for preclearance if there are problems in the future.

"We have concerns that Florida is not on the initial list, but because the proposal contains a rolling trigger, it will enable Florida ... should it be necessary, to be on the protected list" again, said Deirdre Macnab, president of the League of Women Voters of Florida.

Other provisions of the bill, including one requiring 180 days' notice for changes that would affect federal elections and another making it easier to get voting changes blocked, would be implemented nationwide.

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