Illinois Senator Dick Durbin & Bill Nelson to host hearing in Tampa on FL voting law

The Legislature has said that such a law is necessary because of concerns about voter fraud, but in fact there have been very few reports of such incidents ever happening in Florida.

Democrats and activist groups such as the NAACP have been critical of such laws imposed not just in Florida, but in over a dozen other states across the country. The NAACP released a report last month called Defending Democracy criticizing those new laws, with the group's president and CEO, Ben Jealous, saying, "It is no mistake that the groups who are behind this are simultaneously attacking very basic women's rights, environmental protections, labor rights, and educational access for working people and minorities."

Last month in Texas, U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder issued a public warning that these new voting laws could disenfranchise minority voters, but he's gone no further than making that statement, frustrating activists who think such actions need to be scrutinized by Justice.

In a statement released on Thursday by Senator Durbin, who ranks behind only Harry Reid as the most powerful man in the Democratic Senate Caucus, the Illinois legislator said:

“For more than half of the life of our Republic, a majority of Americans were not allowed to vote. Fortunately, we learned from these mistakes and expanded the franchise and reach of our democracy though six constitutional amendments. Worryingly, a spate of recently passed state voting laws seemed designed to restrict voting by making it harder for millions of disabled, young, minority, rural, elderly, homeless, and low income Americans to vote. Protecting the right of every citizen to vote and ensuring that our elections are fair and transparent are not Democratic or Republican values, they are American values.”

Illinois U.S. Senator Dick Durbin, the chair of the Senate Judiciary Subcommittee on the Constitution, Civil Rights and Human Rights, announced Thursday he will host a hearing on the impact of Florida's controversial new election law in Tampa on Friday, January 27 at the Hillsborough County Courthouse.

Florida U.S. Senator Bill Nelson announced last month that such a hearing would take place in January, but the site was not confirmed until today.

Florida's GOP-led Legislature passed and Governor Rick Scott signed into law last year the election bill that reduces the amount of early voting days from 14 to 8, and adds administrative features that state Democrats (and some moderate Republicans) say will hurt participation at the polls later this year.

Nelson, who will be on the ballot for re-election this November, says that there are a number of states "including Florida (that) have made it harder for some people to vote. We want to know why this is happening."

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