Voting-rights groups, elected officials seek to intervene in elections law case

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Voting-rights groups and elected officials have asked a federal court to allow them to intervene in the legal fight over the most controversial elements of Florida’s new elections law, reports the News Service of Florida. The American Civil Liberties Union and Project Vote joined citizens, two lawmakers and a pair of supervisors of elections in asking to be allowed to fight the law in the U.S. District Court in Washington, D.C. The state decided to try to get “preclearance” — required for the law to go into effect in five counties with a history of racial discrimination — from the court instead of the U.S. Department of Justice, which usually pre-clears laws under the Voting Rights Act. “After the state’s latest round of legal hide-and-seek, we’re asking the court to allow us to join the case on behalf of impacted Floridians who will see the right to cast their vote rolled back by these regressive and unnecessary changes to Florida’s voting laws,” said Howard Simon, executive director of the ACLU of Florida. Elected officials joining the suit include Sen. Arthenia Joyner, D-Tampa; Rep. Janet Cruz, D-Tampa, Monroe County Supervisor of Elections Harry Sawyer; and Leon County Supervisor of Elections Ion Sancho. “Florida’s effort to suppress the vote for 2012 and beyond needs this complete review and we hope that the federal court will see what we see — that the provisions under review hurt racial and language minorities in Hillsborough County and across Florida,” Cruz said.

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.