Listen to the Disenfranchised Voices of Sarasota County

I recently posted about the debacle that has engulfed the race to represent Florida’s 13th Congressional District and the lawsuit filed by Sarasota County voters calling for a revote. Because of computer problems, poorly designed touch screens, and elections officials unwilling to take action to fix the problem, more than one in six Sarasota County voters was prevented from casting a ballot in the congressional race.

After the election, when public officials in charge of running elections refused to hear voters’ complaints, People For the American Way Foundation held a public hearing and invited Sarasota County citizens to make their concerns known and speak out on the disenfranchisement that characterized the election. The response that night was overwhelming. Hundreds of voters filled the hotel ballroom and spilled out into the hall. We heard from citizens of every age and race, all outraged that so many voters were prevented from casting a ballot. We’ve put just a few of the comments online. I encourage every American concerned with voting rights to listen to what these voters have to say.

For voters in Florida, the right to cast a vote that counts is tenuous at best, but the sad truth is that residents in many other states face similar threats to their rights. As we look ahead to the 2008 elections, Congress should take substantive steps to fix our country’s election system. The problems that we’re seeing in Florida should be all the reminder we need that democracy is only as strong as the trust that citizens have that their voice, and their vote, can make a difference.