Rep. Corrine Brown, D-Jacksonville (Pic by JAXPORT, via Flickr)

Last week, Rep. Corrine Brown, D-Jacksonville, introduced the “Easy Voting Act,” which would require states to allow early voting up to the day of the election, ban identification requirements and allow for same-day voter registration or address changes.

Though Brown stated that the bill aims to counter efforts to suppress the voting rights of many (including low-income residents, minorities and college students), her opponent says the legislation would only “encourage voter fraud.”

“If we are to maintain our Representative Republican form of government, there is no doubt that our elections must be fair, honest, and have integrity in the results,” said Mike Yost, Brown’s District 3 opponent, in a press release sent out Wednesday. “Those people who seek to gain advantages through voting illegally or encouraging the use of unscrupulous voting can only be interested in making sure results are skewed in one direction. A ‘wide open’ election process does not guarantee integrity in our election system and does not protect the interests of all voters.”

This past year, 34 states have introduced legislation requiring a voter ID, while seven other states have already passed a similar law or have strict photo ID requirements in place. In Florida, Gov. Rick Scott’s support for an election rule overhaul had many critics up in arms, including Brown, who says the bill “severely curtails voters’ basic rights by including numerous provisions which make it extremely difficult for many of my constituents to register and cast a vote.”

Among its controversial provisions, Florida’s new law aims to reduce the number of early voting days by almost half, and increase the hurdles to getting citizen initiatives on the ballot. One provision that Brown finds especially egregious is the elimination of early voting on the last Sunday before election day. According to Brown, “statistics show that in the 2008 general election in Florida, 33.2% of those who voted early on the last Sunday before Election Day were African American, while 23.6% were Hispanic.”

The American Civil Liberties Union of Florida and Project Vote, a national voting rights group, filed suit in federal court in June to challenge the implementation of the elections overhaul. That case was dismissed yesterday.

“It is outright embarrassing that just a decade after the 2000 elections more than half of the states across the nation are on the verge of taking a huge step backwards with respect to inclusivity and the basic right to vote,” said Brown, while touting her legislation. “Given that voting makes up the underlying foundation of our democracy, I believe that contrary to these misguided efforts, it is critical to make it EASIER for people to register and to vote, not to erect more barriers!”

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