U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson urged House Democrats to do whatever it takes to make sure proposed election reform measures pass during the 2014 legislative session.
“(House Democrats should) use every parliamentary mechanism at their disposal to try to fulfill the American dream, which is the right to vote, to be able to cast that vote and have the confidence to know that when you count that vote it is going be counted as you intended,” he said during a news conference Wednesday afternoon.
Nelson, an Orlando-area Democrat, met with state lawmakers Wednesday to discuss election reform measures. He spent about 15 minute talking with House Democrats before heading over the Senate to speak with Senate Democrats.
Nelson said changes made to Florida’s election laws in recent years, such as legislation passed in 2011 which cut back the number of early voting days, made it difficult for Floridians to vote in the 2012 elections.
Legislation was passed in 2013 aimed at fixing some of the issues during the 2012 election. However, Nelson said requests from the state elections office, such as one which limit where supervisors of elections can put absentee, or vote-by-mail, ballot drop boxes, is another form of voter suppression.
“You start to see what is not so subtle anymore,” he said. “You start to see what is the heavy hand of voter suppression, except for the voters that those in power want to be able to vote.”
Nelson said there are a few measures in the state Senate that would open up voting sites and make the election process easier.
One such measure is being pushed by Sen. Darren Soto, D-Orlando. That proposal would allow Florida colleges and universities to have early voting sites. Those locations aren’t currently in the list of allowed locations.
Another measure Nelson pointed toward was one backed by Sen. Jeff Clemens, D-Lake Worth, which would allow online voter registration.
“I want to urge you all and lend my support on what you’re doing,” said Nelson. “As this works through, and you’re working through the Senate and you’re working in the House, I want to encourage you and lend whatever encouragement I can to you.”