National Democrats ask Justice Dept. to oppose changes to Florida’s elections laws

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The campaign organization for Senate Democrats has asked the U.S. Department of Justice to oppose sweeping changes to Florida’s elections law, saying the measure passed during the spring legislative session “will result in fewer registered minority voters, fewer ballots cast by minority voters, and fewer ballots counted for minority voters, reports the News Service of Florida.” The Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee’s memo comes days after Secretary of State Kurt Browning asked a federal court to “preclear” the law, an usual attempt to sidestep the DOJ after the state had originally asked Justice to give the law the green light. Browning said he was worried that outside pressure might shape the agency’s opinion, which would still be considered in the court case. “The DSCC sees it as no coincidence that the Republican-dominated Florida Legislature would institute voting changes that will disparately affect minority voters in an election year when suppressing the minority vote likely will help Republican candidates,” wrote executive director Guy Cecil and general counsel Marc Elias. “But under Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act, minority voting rights cannot be bartered in the course of political gamesmanship.” U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson, a Florida Democrat who has also been highly critical of the law, is expected to face a tough re-election battle in 2012. Supporters argue the law — which includes changes to the number of early voting days, new rules for third-party voter registration organizations and restrictions on when voters can change their addresses — is aimed at reducing the chances of voter fraud.

Peter Schorsch is the President of Extensive Enterprises and is the publisher of some of Florida’s most influential new media websites, including SaintPetersBlog.com, FloridaPolitics.com, ContextFlorida.com, and Sunburn, the morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics. SaintPetersBlog has for three years running been ranked by the Washington Post as the best state-based blog in Florida. In addition to his publishing efforts, Peter is a political consultant to several of the state’s largest governmental affairs and public relations firms. Peter lives in St. Petersburg with his wife, Michelle, and their daughter, Ella.