Here's just a sliver of the problem that is Florida when it comes to citizens exercising their franchise. Well, all of Republican America, but this week it's Florida's turn to be in the spotlight.
WEST: No, I think that when you look at our voting process here in the United States of America, it really comes down to you should be able to go out and vote on Election Day. If you cannot get out to vote on Election Day, you get an absentee ballot. I think that this early voting thing was something we provided and now some people see it as an entitlement, which is really not consistent with constitutional voting practices and procedures.That's a problem that, with enough planning and organized GOTV, can be overcome. More nefarious are the restrictive voter registration laws that have sharply driven down new voter registrations in the state, and the voter purge ordered by Gov. Rick Scott that is removing voters left and right (mostly left) from the rolls. County elections officials don't like it one bit.
Brian Corley, the Pasco County elections supervisor, questioned the timing of the push, noting that election officials were first given a list of potential ineligible voters from the Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles roughly a year ago.Another of those county election offiicials, Seminole County Supervisor of Elections Mike Ertel, a Republican, has protested the purge tweeting out a photo of a "voter on the list falsely identified as ineligible, with his passport."
Corley pointed out how two voters on the department's list given to him wound up being born in Ohio and Massachusetts. One of the names wound up on the list of non-U.S. citizens because the driver's license number used to check citizenship had one number wrong on it.
"We want our voter rolls to be accurate, obviously no one wants someone to vote who isn't a citizen," Corley said. "But at the same time we are the ones fielding phone calls from voters saying 'Why are you questioning my citizenship?"
These supervisors know how bad the lists the state is using for the purge are, because they keep hearing the cases like that of Maureen Russo. She's a 40-year resident of Florida, who's been registered to vote for that long, who was born in Ohio, but must attend "an administrative hearing to present evidence" in order to have her vote restored.
But wait, there's more. Sarasota County is cutting 156 precincts down to 98 for election day, with majority African American communities, like majority-black Newtown neighborhood which will go from six precincts down to one, particularly targeted. Polling places will change and lines will be long at them.
Scott and his fellow Republicans are playing the percentages here. This state would likely win the election for President Obama with its 29 electoral votes. History has certainly proven how tight the margins can be in this state. Republicans are upping their odds by taking a few thousand citizens out of the mix. Many will get the letter and not take it seriously, or not have the time or ability to get their proof of citizenship and attend an administrative hearing to restore their vote. The vast majority of those targeted, the Miami Herald has discovered, are Hispanic, Democratic and independent voters. Put them all in with the new voter registrations that aren't happening (young voters, new citizens, people recently moved to the state) and those who won't be able to vote early, and that could easily make the difference in a close election. And that's what Republicans are counting on.
For more of the week's news, make the jump below the fold.
In other news:
- Michigan's House Redistricting and Elections Committee approved a slate of voter registration and ID bills this week. The bills include one that would mimic Florida's third-party voter registration restrictions, and another requiring government-issued photo IDs or birth certificates for registering. The bills head to the full House floor next.
- Democrats in South Carolina's Senate failed in their attempt to defund the state's legal fund for defending the state's new voter ID law against the Department of Justice. The suit goes forward.
- There's a partial victory in Pennsylvania where the case of Viviette Applewhite has focused national attention. Gov. Tom Corbett is making it ever so slightly easier to get a state photo identification card. Now Pennsylvanians won't have to come up with their birth certificate, as long as the state can verify the birth record. So now they're just required to have a Social Security card, the state's knowledge of their U.S. birth, or a certificate of U.S. citizenship or certificate of naturalization, plus two proofs of residency, such as a utility bill or a lease agreement. Easy peasy.
Nonetheless, Mrs. Applewhite's court case (brought by the ACLU and other groups on her and other voters' behalf) will go forward, with a hearing scheduled to begin July 25.
- Here's a great round-up of what young voters, particularly college students, are going to be facing in trying to vote in Wisconsin, Pennsylvania, and South Carolina.