“House Democrats blast Florida’s ‘illegal poll tax’ amid federal oversight push”

David Smiley for the Tampa Bay Times:

House Democrats seeking to build a case for renewed federal oversight of election laws came to South Florida Monday and accused state lawmakers of systematically disenfranchising voters and passing legislation that would impose an illegal “poll tax” on former felons seeking to regain the right to vote.

Members of an elections subcommittee of the Committee on House Administration held a hearing on voter rights in Fort Lauderdale as part of a seven-city fact-finding tour to create a basis for an update of the 1965 Voting Rights Act. At times, the meeting felt as much an airing of grievances with Florida’s Republican-led state government as an evidentiary hearing, with Democrats ticking off a list of election-related offenses….

Over the last decade, Florida has created arduous voting lines by arbitrarily reducing early voting, been sued over the lack of bilingual voting services and repeatedly watched its elections become the source of national scrutiny. Monday’s hearing is a sign that the nation’s largest swing state is in Congress’ sights as it seeks to restore an oversight process known as “pre-clearance,” in which counties and states are forced to submit voting changes to the federal government for review.

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