Daylong Session Slated June 20 in Miami
DOJ Announcement Falls Short of Commission's Recommendations
(Washington, DC May 23)--U.S. Commission on Civil Rights Chairperson Mary Frances Berry today announced details for the Commission's upcoming public review of Florida voting rights, which is aimed at assessing election reform adopted by state and federal lawmakers after the 2000 presidential election.
At its May 17 monthly meeting, the Commission reaffirmed a previous decision to hold a public briefing in Florida as a follow-up to its extensive investigation and report on voting irregularities. One year after the release of the report, which found "strong and credible evidence of violations of the Voting Rights Act," the Commission has slated a daylong session for June 20 at the Hyatt-Regency Miami from 9:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.
The Commission made 11 recommendations addressing widespread voter disenfranchisement and concluded that the election was marred by irregularities, inefficiencies, and ineptitude. Shortly after the Commission's public hearings, the Florida legislature adopted a reform measure that addresses seven of the Commission's recommendations. Federal election reform bills were passed in the U.S. House and Senate this year that also answer some of the concerns outlined in the Commission's report. This week, without providing details, the Department of Justice announced plans to bring suit against three Florida counties, alleging discriminatory treatment of minority voters, unjust purging of voters from voter rolls, and failure to provide language and disability assistance.
"The Commission welcomes the announcement by the Department of Justice," notes Commission Chair Berry. "While not informed of the scope of Justice's lawsuit, the irregularities that the Commission uncovered in 2001 were widespread and involved problems far beyond the three complaints that are reportedly the focus of the DOJ action."