For Tuesday’s State of the Union address, First Lady Michelle Obama will host 102-year-old Desiline Victor, one of the thousands of Floridians who experienced chaos at the polls and waited in marathon lines to vote in November’s presidential election. Victor, a Haitian immigrant who resides in Miami, stood in line for three hours on the first day of early voting, but had to make a second trip to the precinct in order to finally cast her vote:
Victor voted for the president, but it was not easy. On her first visit to the polls on the morning of Oct. 28, the first day of early voting, she waited in line for three hours. Poll workers eventually advised her to come back later, and she did.
She finally cast her vote that evening. Her story spread around the polling place and inspired some would-be voters to stay in line, too, instead of being deterred by the delays.
Victor will now attend the State of the Union as a representative of all the voters who endured multiple obstacles to vote. These obstacles were man-made; Gov. Rick Scott (R-FL) cut early voting days, added lengthy and unnecessary amendments to the ballot, and enacted several election law changes which other Florida Republicans later admitted were intended to suppress votes. Their efforts largely paid off — one study determined that at least 201,000 Florida residents gave up on voting in 2012 because of the long lines. Black and Hispanic voters waited almost twice as long as white voters to cast their ballot.
According to the Washington Post, the White House chose Victor after specifically searching for someone who could be the face of voting rights during President Obama’s speech. Though this last election is over, several state legislatures are awaiting the fate of the Voting Rights Act, which will be challenged at the Supreme Court on February 27. If the Court invalidates key provisions, minority voters like Victor are likely to face even more difficulties at the polls.