FLORIDA VOTING RIGHTS LAWSUIT SETTLED;
NAACP LEGAL DEFENSE FUND TO MONITOR STATE'S IMPLEMENTATION OF LANDMARK AGREEMENT
The NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, Inc. (LDF) joined other civil rights organizations in announcing the settlement of a landmark class action lawsuit stemming from the 2000 presidential election. The lawsuit was filed on behalf of thousands of African-American and Haitian-American Floridians who were unable to vote in that election, and named as defendants the state of Florida, seven Florida counties, and a private company that did work for the state.
"We are very pleased with the settlement, but we recognize it will require monitoring and diligence on the part of local and national civil rights organizations," stated LDF President and Director-Counsel Elaine R. Jones. "LDF is not prepared to walk away from the table on this - we will continue to make sure that the favorable terms negotiated actually benefit Florida voters."
The lawsuit, N.A.A.C.P. et al. v. Smith and Kast et al., was filed in January 2001. It sought substantial changes in voter registration and election day practices that the plaintiffs claimed unfairly impacted black voters. The settlement requires the state or state agencies to take concrete steps to improve the voting process, including:
Help identify eligible voters who were removed from the voter rolls in error so that they may be restored, and implement new procedures to help prevent similar mistakes from happening in the future;
Assess and recommend improvements in training for poll workers and staffing at polling places;
Ensure that elections are administered properly, including the fair distribution of equipment, resources, technology, and staffing at polling places;
Study and report to the Legislature on ways to strengthen election administration throughout the state; and
Notify voters that they can register to vote and change registration information at DMV and Children's Services offices.