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Hispanic Officials Call For More Protection Against Voter Discrimination

TALLAHASSEE (CBSMiami/NSF) - Hispanic elected officials have called on Florida's congressional delegation to start moving the Voting Rights Act Amendment of 2014 through the U.S. House of Representatives.

In a conference call on Monday, members of the National Association of Latino Elected and Appointed Officials (NALEO) said voter discrimination is a fact of life for Hispanics in Florida.

Luz Urbaez Weinberg, an Aventura city commissioner, said that since last June, when the U.S. Supreme Court invalidated a key section of the Voting Rights Act, it's been "hunting season" on voter protection.

"We're simply asking for a bipartisan modernization of the Voting Rights Act for the 21st century we're all living in," Urbaez Weinberg said. "And anyone who believes there's no voter discrimination in today's society has blinders and earplugs on."

The Supreme Court struck down the formula that compelled certain states with histories of voting discrimination, including parts of Florida, to clear their voting changes with the federal government under Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act. But NALEO pointed to a number of incidents they said demonstrate a pattern of discrimination against minority Florida voters.

For instance, in 2012, the last presidential election year, state officials moved to purge the voter registration rolls of people suspected of not being U.S. citizens.

According to NALEO, of the more than 2,000 Floridians who got letters questioning their voting qualifications, more than 60 percent were Latino, although Latinos make up less than 20 percent of all eligible Florida voters. The Voting Rights Act Amendment of 2014 would require all jurisdictions nationwide to provide notice in the local media and online of any election changes, including the moving of polling places.

The News Service of Florida contributed to this report.


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