Durbin, Nelson Statement on the Department of Justice's Challenge of Florida's New Voting Law

Senators held field hearing on the law and its impact last month

[WASHINGTON, D.C.] - United States Senators Dick Durbin (D-IL) and Bill Nelson (D-FL) each released the following statements today after the U.S. Department of Justice filed papers in court challenging portions of Florida’s new voting law.


“The Justice Department has made the right decision in challenging Florida’s new voting law,” Durbin said. “The Florida law’s onerous new restrictions are unfair, unwise and will have a disproportionate impact on minority, young, low income and other voters in Florida. I support the challenge and hope the law is overturned.”


“There’s really not much question at this point that the law’s a thinly veiled attempt by extremists to make it harder for some people to vote, especially seniors, young voters and minorities,” said Nelson.  “The Justice Department’s right to bring this challenge.”


Florida’s new voting law cuts the number of early voting days from 14 to 8, making it more difficult for many groups to vote, including senior citizens, students and many working families. The law eliminates early voting the Sunday before an election, disproportionately impacting African-American and Hispanic voters, who make up the overwhelming majority of those who vote the Sunday before an election.


The law also requires third-party organizations that register voters to register with the state and meet onerous administrative requirements, making it more difficult for non-partisan, third-party groups to register voters.  This restriction will likely limit many people’s access to the ballot, as groups like the League of Women Voters, Rock the Vote, and the Boy Scouts have ended voter registration drives in the state. Finally, the new law requires Florida residents who have moved within the state and are updating their addresses to vote on provisional ballots, raising concerns that those votes may not be counted. In the last election, more than 40% of provisional ballots were not counted.


Durbin chaired a field hearing on the Florida law in January at the request of Senator Nelson. More information on that hearing, including witness testimony and a webcast, can be found here.