Florida Senate - 2014                                    SB 1132
       By Senator Braynon
       36-01318A-14                                          20141132__
    1                        A bill to be entitled                      
    2         An act relating to elections; creating s. 97.0111,
    3         F.S.; establishing the rights of the electorate;
    4         requiring that any restriction on voting rights or any
    5         change in voting practices be narrowly tailored to
    6         serve a compelling state interest; providing equal
    7         protection of the right to vote; authorizing the use
    8         of a violation of the act as a claim or defense in a
    9         judicial proceeding; providing an effective date.
   11         WHEREAS, Florida has a long history of problems in election
   12  administration which has resulted in significant barriers to
   13  participation in the democratic process, and
   14         WHEREAS, in 2011, the Florida Legislature passed House Bill
   15  1355, which was signed into law by the Governor and yielded many
   16  restrictive and undemocratic changes in election administration,
   17  including the reduction of the number of early voting days,
   18  stringent restrictions on third-party voter registration
   19  organizations, and the requirement that certain electors
   20  changing their addresses at polling places vote provisional
   21  ballots, and
   22         WHEREAS, as a result, many residents of this state
   23  experienced long lines at early voting sites and polling places
   24  in the 2012 general election, with wait times of several hours,
   25  causing potentially thousands of voters to leave early voting
   26  sites and polling places before exercising their right to vote,
   27  and
   28         WHEREAS, in 2012, the Florida Department of State issued
   29  inaccurate lists of potential noncitizen voters to county
   30  supervisors of elections, which created confusion among
   31  predominantly minority voters, and
   32         WHEREAS, the right to vote is the most precious of all
   33  American rights, and the right to free, fair, and accessible
   34  elections should be a fundamental right, NOW, THEREFORE,
   36  Be It Enacted by the Legislature of the State of Florida:
   38         Section 1. Section 97.0111, Florida Statutes, is created to
   39  read:
   40         97.0111 Rights of the electorate.—
   41         (1) A United States citizen who is at least 18 years of age
   42  and who is a resident of this state has an explicit, fundamental
   43  right to vote in any election held in the political subdivision
   44  in which the citizen resides. The right to vote may not be
   45  denied or abridged by this state or its political subdivisions
   46  or by any private or public entity or person. Any restriction on
   47  voting rights, or any change in voting practices or procedures
   48  which would diminish access to the ballot, must be narrowly
   49  tailored to serve a compelling state interest.
   50         (2) A United States citizen who is at least 18 years of age
   51  and who is a resident of this state shall have equal protection
   52  of his or her right to vote.
   53         (3) A person whose right to vote has been denied or
   54  abridged by this state or its political subdivisions or by any
   55  private or public entity or person in violation of this section
   56  may assert such violation as a claim or defense in a judicial
   57  proceeding to obtain appropriate relief.
   58         Section 2. This act shall take effect upon becoming a law.