Senate Hearing to be Held on Florida's Voter Registration Law

TAMPA (2011-12-12) -

Florida Sen. Bill Nelson has announced a Senate investigation into the state's new voter registration laws. Nelson says it stifles the rights of voters to participate in elections.

The legality of Florida's new voter registration laws will be under the microscope of a Senate Judiciary Committee meeting in January. The Tampa hearing will be hosted by Illinois Senator Dick Durbin, the senate's number two-ranking Democrat.

Florida's new law halves the time allowed for early voting to eight days and requires organizers of voting drives to submit voter registration paperwork within 48 hours. Several groups - such as the non-partisan League of Women Voters - have dropped their registration drives because of new penalties. Sen. Nelson says the hearings will be held in 14 states where similar laws have been enacted - but he believes Florida's laws are the most restrictive.

"It's a blatant, bald attempt to suppress the votes of certain parts of the population," Nelson said at his Tampa office.

Nelson says the laws target people in the nation's "swing" states who are more likely to vote Democratic.

"We know that that vote is precious, and if it's not counted as it is intended, then the whole basic underpinning of democracy starts to crumble," says Nelson. "And that is what is so pernicious about these kinds of attempts to cut back on people's ability to vote."

Republican leaders in Tallahassee say they fashioned the the law as a way to combat fraud at the polls.

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