Last year, when the Florida State legislature passed an electoral reform bill, NCLR challenged certain provisions of that law, including one that cut the early voting period in half. We argued that the provision would limit opportunities for participation, particularly for working families juggling busy schedules, jobs, kids, and the infamously unpredictable South Florida traffic.
Fast forward to today -- less than a week from Election Day. By all accounts, the lines are long and the parking lots are full -- sure signs that Floridians are anxious to vote. While that's great news, it also shows that cutting the early vote period could have a significantly negative effect on voter turnout.
Though organizations and leaders, including former Florida Governor Charlie Christ, have called on the state to extend early voting in response (as he did during his administration), it is unlikely that Governor Rick Scott will heed the call. After all, Scott is a champion of the electoral reform law that reduced early voting days.
So what can we do, just a few days out from a critical election?
Stay in line. Don't let the wait discourage you; there is too much at stake for our community and for your family. Be proactive and make a plan.
- It's tough to get a parking space? Get your family and friends together and carpool to an early vote site
- Do a little digging and find out what locations may have shorter lines and what lines are less congested
- Bring an activity for the wait. Perhaps you can take that book you've been waiting to read or that friend you need to catch up with.
You have a right to vote, and no one can take that away from you. As Rev. Al Sharpton said in a recent rally in Miami: "They can cut back the times, but they can't cut back the lines."
Get to voting Florida!
Text POWER to 62571 for updates or call: 1-888-VE-Y-VOTA to find out where you can vote early in Florida.
By Camila Gallardo, Senior Communications Manager, NCLR