Florida to require easy parking for early voters; opponents see suppression
Early voting in Florida would be confined to neighborhoods with ample parking, under a package of election law changes that Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis says he'll sign soon.
The measure's GOP sponsors in the state legislature say their aim is to avoid some of the long lines and logistical frustration that many early voters complained about. Democratic opponents and civil rights groups say the real aim is to make it more difficult to vote ahead of Election Day on college campuses, where the electorate skews Democratic.
The provision will require local elections supervisors to pick early voting stations with "sufficient nonpermitted parking to accommodate the anticipated amount of voters."
A federal judge ordered Florida to allow early voting at public university facilities last year, boosting turnout by 58,000 in the hotly contested races for governor and senator. Now, the plaintiffs in that suit say the new parking requirement is "aimed with laser-like precision" at negating the effects of the ruling in time for the 2020 presidential election in the nation's most-populous swing state.
"This is definitely nothing the supervisors asked for. It is something that we advised against," Paul Lux, who just stepped down as president of the association of Florida election supervisors, told HuffPost.
The provision is part of the same bill that will require convicted felons to repay fines and court costs before they may vote again, which civil rights groups say will seriously undermine the restoration of felony voting rights approved in a statewide referendum last year.
California Gov. Gavin Newsom signed into law on Tuesday three democracy reform bills focused on local redistricting, voting access and campaign contributions.
The first piece of legislation prohibits partisan gerrymandering at the local level by establishing criteria for cities and counties to use when adjusting district boundaries. While California is the largest state to use an independent redistricting commission to draw its congressional and state district maps, local districts did not have the same regulations.
More than 22,000 Virginians with felony convictions have regained the right to vote thanks to executive actions taken by Democratic Gov. Ralph Northam since he took office in January 2018, his office announced this week.
In a statement, Northam's office said he has so far restored the civil rights of 22,205 people who had been convicted of felonies and have since completed their sentences. Those civil rights include the right to vote as well as the right to serve on juries, run for public office and become a notary public.
Northam previously announced in February that nearly 11,000 convicted felons had their voting rights restored under his watch.