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Voting Blame Game

Dec 4, 2012

By Dan

It is the theatre of the absurd to watch the Republicans in the legislature and the Governor try to affix blame for Florida’s election fiasco on someone other than themselves. Today they went after election supervisors who they claim didn’t provide enough capacity to process voters. Let’s be clear, while election supervisors might have done more to accommodate voters, they were without authority to prevent the voter suppression that was purposefully and willfully committed by the Republican Legislature and Governor Scott. The facts and run up to the 2012 election prove that point convincingly…

Prior to the 2008 election, the Republican legislature tried to limit early voting to 96 hours over a 14 day period, and to only city halls and libraries. Democrats hollered that the limitations on hours each day (8) and locations would cause long lines but the Republicans defeated all amendments trying to enlarge the time and places for early voting.

The result:  lines were so long during the 2008 election that in the middle of early voting Governor Crist issued an executive order expanding early voting to 12 hours each day (for a total of 120 hours). If you remember, even with Crist’s expansion there were still long lines, some around the block in many communities.

The Legislature knew exactly who the early voters were because it had commissioned a study after the election. . The Legislature’s study showed that 52% of the early voters in 2008 were Democrats and only 30% were Republicans.

So armed with the knowledge that more Democrats voted early, and knowing full well that 120 hours was insufficient, the Republican Legislature and the Governor again limited early voting in advance of the 2012 election, this time to 48-96 hours over 8 days. They limited locations to only city halls and libraries and forbid early voting the last Sunday before the election (a popular voting day for African American churches). Again Democrats hollered that the limitations would cause long lines, but Republicans defeated amendments to the election bill that would have expanded hours and days and allowed more locations for early voting.

The sponsors of the bill claimed it was necessary because of “fraud” in early voting. Of course there is no evidence of even insignificant fraud in early voting and the claim was an outright lie. Yes, a lie.

The legislature also put on the ballot 11 constitutional amendments, many of which had multiple parts. Rather than use short descriptions of the amendments, the legislature made the summaries as long as possible (some up to 600 words) ensuring that any conscientious voter would have to spend inordinate time to actually vote.

So, the resulting voting delays were not simply predictable, they were intended by a legislature and governor who had all the facts necessary to know precisely what there law would do. There is no blaming anyone else. This was done for the singular purpose of making it harder to vote for people who the Republican legislature believed tended to vote for Democrats. Case closed.

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Is it 2014 and time to vote these people out yet????

None of this is very surprising. I've often felt if you truly believe in the position you're taking, you don't need to resort to subterfuge or any sort of trickery. Just explain your position cleanly and clearly. People will either agree or disagree. I think all the nonsense of the Republican Party is proof they don't really believe what they're saying. They don't have any confidence in their positions' ability to stand on their own merits. They need to cheat and lie in order to prevail. Fortunately, that didn't work this time. They themselves know their stated positions are shams aimed at hiding their true goals.

The league of Women Voters, Lee County Florida has requested the US Justice Dept, Voting Rights Division (specifically, Elise Shore) to mount an investigation. Otherwise, having State elected or appointed officials conducting the investigation is like asking the fox to guard the hen house.

I agree with everything you said, Dan, and thank you for saying it loud and clear. One topic you did not mention was the increased use of Provisional Ballots that were relied upon so heavily because of the new voter suppression law, especially so in minority or student rich counties. I can't find numbers released on the problem statewide, but here in Alachua County the number of provisional ballots practically doubled since 2008 and had nearly a 44% failure rate.

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