Contact: Becky Martin
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Washington DC—April 28, 2011
Today, the National Physicians Alliance submitted a letter to Florida Senate President Michael Haridopolos and members of the Florida State Senate, voicing strong opposition to Florida HB 1355 and SB 2086.
“These bills place new, harsh limits on the activity of nonpartisan voter registration groups, organizations which provide a valuable service in our society,” says NPA President Dr. Valerie Arkoosh. “As America fights for democratic freedoms abroad, we should resist any impulse to restrict democratic participation at home. On the contrary, we should strongly support the work of nonpartisan groups that champion voting and civic engagement in this country. America leads best by example.”
These bills would require anyone whose address may have changed since they previously registered to vote to cast a provisional ballot on Election Day instead of a regular ballot. Notably, in 2008, more than half of the provisional ballots submitted in Florida were not counted.1 This puts at serious risk the votes cast by groups such as college students and military personnel (people who relocate), and people whose names may have changed since they last registered to vote (like newlyweds).
Other extreme proposals in these bills would require nonpartisan volunteers to return signed voter forms within two days under threat of steep financial and criminal penalties—reforms that will drastically reduce voter registration assistance. “As physicians, we view these bills as unhealthy for our democracy and unhealthy for our communities,” says NPA board member Dr. Rishi Manchanda, chair of the NPA’s Rx Democracy campaign.
In addition, by shortening the window established for early voting, the proposed reforms will further curtail the ability of health care providers and so many other hard working Floridians with inflexible schedules to exercise their right to vote. Research has shown that in the four national elections prior to 2008, physicians on average voted 9% less often than the general public—most likely the result of heavy clinical schedules on election days. 2 Like other Floridians with demanding schedules, doctors benefit from the option of early voting.