“We know that thousands of American citizens were kept from casting their ballots because of long lines and other unacceptable barriers,” said Judith Browne Dianis, co-director of Advancement Project. “In a democracy, we have a responsibility to keep voting free, fair and accessible with equal access to the ballot for all. These problems could be fixed with federal voting standards that include early voting, modernized registration and other measures that protect our right to vote. Currently, we have 13,000 different jurisdictions who run elections 13,000 different ways.”
An MIT analysis released this month found that Florida had the longest average wait times to vote of any state during the recent presidential election, followed by District of Columbia, Maryland, South Carolina and Virginia. And the study, led by political science professor Charles Stewart found that black and Hispanic voters waited nearly twice as long on average than whites voters did. And according to a study released by Ohio State University professor and the Orlando Sentinel, some 200,000 would-be Florida voters gave up in frustration because of the long lines.
President Barack Obama won Florida’s electoral votes after days of delays in counting the ballots, beating former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney by 73,189 votes. Florida Gov. Rick Scott, who signed the 2011 election reform package that shrank the early voting period and who is up for re-election in 2014, now says he supports a change to a flexible system that would allow supervisors of elections to utilize between eight and fourteen early voting days.
Asked whether Victor’s presence was meant to put voting rights on the legislative agenda for Congress, an administration official, speaking on background, called voting rights “a clear priority” that Obama will touch on in his address, and which he plans to “expand on” afterward, and that Obama “made the added effort to include someone like Desiline Victor” on the official guest list.
Follow Joy Reid on Twitter at @TheReidReport.