Rick Scott administration circumvents Justice Department in voting law changes

08/01/11 Robert Lorei
Radioactivity: Live Call-In (Friday)

We’ll talk first about a decision by the Scott administration to go around the US Justice Department in attempting to implement new voter laws here in Florida. The decision was announced late Friday and has received little attention in the press so far.

But first a listener comment that came in after last Friday’s discussion about the debt ceiling debate in Washington…

Last Friday afternoon Florida's top election official said he asked a federal court in Washington, D.C., rather than the U.S. Justice Department to approve a new state election law because he wants the decision to be free of "outside influence."

Opponents of the Republican-sponsored voting law contend it's designed to suppress turnout by minorities who tend to vote Democratic.

Secretary of State Kurt Browning asked for a declaratory judgment from a three-judge panel in Washington to approve Florida’s proposed voting changes. His filing means the court instead of Attorney General Eric Holder will decide if the law complies with the federal Voting Rights Act.

Republicans say the law is needed to prevent voting fraud. Florida is one of several states in which GOP-controlled legislatures have passed such laws this year.

We’re joined now by Howard Simon who is executive director of the Florida ACLU. It’s one of the groups that has been critical of the voting changes and has been asking the US Attorney General to reject the changes.

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