Southern Poverty Law Center triples funding for voting rights projects, including in FL

By: - December 6, 2021 3:12 pm

Engage Miami Civic Foundation, a grantee of the Southern Poverty Law Center’s “Vote Your Voice” initiative, hosts a voter-registration drive to encourage voting among young, minority citizens. SB 90 makes administration of such drives more difficult. Credit: Engage Miami Civic Foundation

The Southern Poverty Law Center has more than tripled its financial commitment to promote voting rights through organizations in Florida and four Deep South states that conduct non-partisan voter outreach, advocate for democracy and promote civic engagement, especially in underrepresented communities.

The center announced Monday it will invest $100 million over the decade on “Vote Your Voice” programs. It already funds 55 organizations, having begun last year with a pledge of $30 million to the campaign through 2022.

Those organizations, and others to come under the expanded funding, are based in Florida, Georgia, Alabama, Mississippi and Louisiana.

New laws in Florida, Georgia and other states making it harder to vote after last year’s historic voter turnout propelled the large increase in funding, the center announced.

“To ensure a government exists that truly is ‘by the people, and for the people,’ we must expand our efforts to push against the anti-democratic statements and actions of many state and local officials in the Deep South,” said Margaret Huang, the center’s president and CEO said in a statement.

“Voter suppression tactics are escalating, and the ease to vote varies widely by county even within the same state. Several states, including Florida and Georgia, are implementing new laws increasing barriers to the ballot that affect all voters, particularly low-propensity voters of color, voters who live outside major metro areas, returning citizens and – as evident in SPLC-filed litigation – engagement organizations,” the announcement says.

The Florida Phoenix has been following litigation that includes the Southern Poverty Law Center’s legal work in Florida in support of restoration of voting rights for felons who complete their sentences, and its lawsuit in Florida challenging the 2020 voting reforms (SB 90) passed by the Florida Legislature over the objections of nearly all election supervisors and voting-rights advocates such as the League of Women Voters of Florida.

Among the Florida grantees is Faith in Florida, based in Orlando, which aims to connect multiple congregations of various faiths in a nonpartisan network to resist racial and economic issues that cause poverty in families.

Other Florida grantees include Harriett Tubman Freedom Fighter Corps, a party in the lawsuit challenging SB 90; Engage Miami Civic Foundation and Mi Familia Vota, promoting voter engagement among young adults and Hispanics in Miami-Dade; and the Florida Rights Restoration Coalition, promoting full enforcement of 2020’s constitutional Amendment 4 to restore voting rights to ex-felons.

The Voice Your Vote programs cite goals such as training a new generation of political leaders and leading organizations in the South and building voter engagement to ensure a fairer 2030 redistricting process.

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Laura Cassels
Laura Cassels

Laura Cassels is a reporter, former statehouse bureau chief, and former city editor. She is a classical pianist, a Florida State University graduate and proud alum of the Florida Flambeau, an independent college newspaper. Contact her at [email protected]