For Immediate Release
Wednesday, August 22, 2012
Contact: Chris Cate
Statement by Secretary of State Ken Detzner Regarding the Federal Preclearance of Florida’s Third Party Voter Registration Law
79 of 80 provisions from 2011 Elections Law now precleared for statewide implementation
Tallahassee, Florida –
"I am very pleased the U.S. Department of Justice approved the crucial accountability changes to Florida’s third-party voter registration law passed last year by the Florida legislature and signed into law by Governor Scott. Increasing the accountability of those who collect voter registrations helps protect the rights of new voter registrants, and I am proud the Department of State was able to play a role in ensuring the protection is required statewide.
"The federal preclearance of the third party voter registration provision makes it 79 out of 80 provisions now precleared and acceptable for implementation statewide in Florida. Much like the previous 79, we are optimistic the early voting provision will soon be approved and applied statewide for the benefit of Florida voters as well.
"By the time the court has finished ruling on last year’s elections law, I am confident all 80 provisions of the law will be approved and Florida will be even better prepared to conduct elections in a manner that serves its voters’ interests and needs."
About the Federal Preclearance Requirement
Certain states and jurisdictions are subjected to Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act based on a coverage formula found in Section (4)(b) of the Voting Rights Act. The inclusion of the states and jurisdictions requires them to suspend all changes to state election law, regardless of impact, until the changes have been precleared by federal authorities in Washington, D.C. Five Florida counties are covered jurisdictions.
Collier, Hardee, Hendry, Hillsborough, and Monroe counties are subjected to the preclearance process because in November 1972, less than 50 percent of their voting-age citizens were registered to vote or voted in the presidential election, they had a non-English-speaking population of more than five percent, and they provided voting materials only in English, even though at the time voting materials were not required to be in a language other than English. Although the State of Florida is not a covered jurisdiction, all statewide changes to elections laws must be precleared before they can be enforced or administered by the covered counties. In 2006, the "temporary" coverage formula adopted in 1975 was extended for another 25 years without being updated to reflect current demographic and political conditions.