News Release

Broader Issues in the Florida Vote


Rabbi for Temple Emeth of Delray Beach, Florida, Yellin was among the voters confused by the “butterfly” ballot. He has concluded, after extensive conversations with his congregation and others, that some of the “butterfly” ballots were misaligned and misprinted while others were not.

Director and Pastor of House of Hope, a non-denominational center to re-acclimate men once they have been released from jail or drug rehabilitation in Gainesville, Florida, Johnson said today: “Like over 500,000 others in Florida, largely black men, I’ve been disenfranchised. I’m a man who committed a crime, I went to prison for it. I’ve paid my debt to society. Now, I’m helping guide other men’s lives towards adhering to the law of the land, to have them be decent men, husbands and prominent citizens in the community. I’m supported by politically-minded people for the work that I do, yet the political system in Florida says I cannot vote.”

Director of the Democracy Program at the Brennan Center for Justice at New York University Law School, Northup is representing ex-felons in a lawsuit challenging Florida’s ban on voting by ex-felons, including Johnson. Northup said: “There are 13 states, including Florida, that permanently disenfranchise people who have committed a felony. In the last 25 years, the number of ex-felons disenfranchised has increased from 1 percent to almost 5 percent of Florida’s voting-age population. African-Americans are disproportionately affected by the law, which disenfranchises at least 139,000 black ex-felons — 9 percent of Florida’s blacks of voting-age. Florida’s ban on voting by ex-felons means that a citizen who wrote a bad check 30 years ago can be permanently denied the vote.”
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BARBARA ARNWINE, [c/o Diane Gross]
Arnwine is executive director of the Lawyers Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, which has dispatched a team of civil rights lawyers to conduct an investigation into allegations of disparate treatment of voters, voter intimidation, and practices leading to the disenfranchisement of African-Americans and other voters throughout Florida.
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Co-conveners of the Gray Panthers of Metropolitan Washington, Fonteneau and Steinbach point to impediments the elderly face in voting, including transportation to the polls, readability and complexity of the ballot, lack of wheelchair-accessible voting places and personnel to assist voters, insufficient number and remote location of polling places, steps and other barriers, and long lines without places to sit.

For more information, contact at the Institute for Public Accuracy:
Sam Husseini, (202) 347-0020; David Zupan, (541) 484-9167