The 22-story Florida Capitol towers over the old Historic Capitol. Credit: Diane Rado
Patricia Brigham, president of the League of Women Voters of Florida, has been on the forefront of voter rights and gun issues for nearly a decade.
Saturday, she’ll end her term as president, though she expects to work with the LWVFL in some capacity.
“Our democracy is precious and we must ensure that it remains intact,” she told the Florida Phoenix. “The organization means a great deal to me, and its been a terrific honor and privilege to serve as president.”
From starting gun safety initiatives in Orange County to pushing for voting access during the COVID-19 pandemic, Brigham has worked to improve and ensure that Floridians can exercise their right to vote and participate in the state’s democracy.
The League of Women Voters started in Chicago in 1920 and has roots in the women’s suffrage movement, with the Florida branch established in 1939.
Overall, Brigham has been involved with the organization for about eight years, starting with the League of Women Voters of Orange County in 2013, working on initiatives regarding gun safety. She joined the state board of the League of Women Voters of Florida in 2015, and began as president in 2018.
Brigham pushed for early voting opportunities on college campuses, winning court cases over the issue.
“As a result, in 2018, approximately 65,000 students voted early on their campuses,” Brigham told the Phoenix. “So that was a major victory.”
The LWVFL has been heavily involved in restoring voting rights to felons who have done their time, which has been a difficult process involving court battles related to fines and fees, among other issues.
“We did reach out to some 80,000 returning citizens, in a partnership with the ACLU of Florida, who we determined did not owe those fines and fees, and were able to register hundreds of thousands of returning citizens so that they were able to vote,” Brigham said.
Brigham said her proudest time as president was when the 2020 election cycle melded with the COVID-19 pandemic.
“The League volunteers… they worked the polls during the height of a pandemic,” she said, noting that some of the LWVFL members are older citizens. She said that they showed that “they were willing to risk their lives to get out the vote.”
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