|Published:||Apr 23, 2013 10:28 PM EDT|
|Updated:||Apr 23, 2013 10:28 PM EDT|
FORT MYERS, FL--A Senate bill that would change the election process in Florida, has many local organizations upset because they claim it could prevent you from casting your ballot. The Senate bill would directly impact those with disabilities or who cannot read or speak English.
Right now, disabled voters can have someone help them through the ballot on election day and there isn't a limit of how many people those assistants can help. But this new bill could dramatically change that and now some are saying it could leave the disabled to figure out the ballot themselves.
It's a site Southwest Florida voters remember all too well--lines--some six hours long, just to cast a ballot. To make sure that never happens again, the Florida Senate proposed a bill for election reform.
"There are so many good previsions in the bill that we are very happy with," said Lee County Democrat Connie Besco.
Some of the bills wording is causing quite a stir for many people with disabilities and those who have a hard time reading or speaking English. The bill would not allow a volunteer, like a church pastor, to help more than 10 people cast their ballot. The volunteer would also have to know the voters before the election.
"No matter how I look at it, it will affect my community," said Haitian community leader Rony Baptiste.
Baptiste says during last years election, he personally had to help dozens of Creole speaking Haitians as they voted. He says this change could possibly prevent many people with language barriers from casting a ballot.
"If you give me the right to vote and you limited me with such a petty thing, what is the purpose?," said Baptiste.
The Lee County NAACP is also stepping forward and demanding change. The group wants the provisions of the bill removed.
"We should be encouraging people to vote, and not inhibiting them to vote," said Debbie Jordan with the Lee County NAACP.
The Lee County Democrats also say if the disabled are left without help, the lines would get worse.
"They may stand there for an hour trying to figure it out themselves and we don't need that," said Besco.
Democrats we spoke with say the proposed bill does do a lot of good, like extending early voting days and allowing more locations to be used for poling. We tried to get in touch with GOP leaders here locally, but did not get a call back.
The Senate votes on the bill tomorrow.
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