The U.S. Commission on Civil Rights says that the Justice Department should investigate the possibility that minorities were intentionally denied the right to vote in last year?s elections in Florida. Chairwoman Mary Frances Berry plans to request a meeting with Attorney General John Ashcroft to recommend that he look into problems outlined in a commission report.
The report says that thousands for Floridians were deprived of the chance to vote by outdated equipment, improper purging of voter rolls, language barriers and inadequate access to voting booths. Black voters were especially disenfranchised.
?We are asking the Justice Department and Mr. Ashcroft to look at the facts in our report and look at the remedy he should pursue,? says Berry. ?He should determine whether there was intentional discrimination.
?What happened in Florida is that there was bipartisan disenfranchisement?Democrats who were county supervisors did not do what they were supposed to do, and neither did the governor nor the secretary of state.?
The report says that the state?s highest officials, especially Governor Jeb Bush and Secretary of State Katherine Harris, were ?grossly derelict in fulfilling their responsibilities and unwilling to accept accountability.?
Fifty-four percent of the votes rejected during the Florida election were cast by black voters, according to the report. Blacks account for 11 percent of the voters, statewide. The commission held 3 days of hearings, interviewed 100 witnesses and reviewed 118,000 documents.
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