There is an informative review of voter suppression efforts in Florida by Ari Berman up at The Nation. Berman enumerates all the suppression efforts by Republicans going back to 2000, and concludes with some interesting observations and very real numbers indicating that voter suppression efforts by Republicans in Florida go far beyond the submission of fraudulent voter registration forms.
In a deeply sardonic twist, Republicans committed the only voter registration fraud that has occurred since the law was overturned. “It’s kind of ironic that the dead people they accused Acorn of registering are now being done by the RPOF [Republican Party of Florida],” Paul Lux, the Republican supervisor of elections in Okaloosa County, told NBC News.
And, unlike with ACORN, Strategic Allied Consulting didn’t alert authorities to the voter registration fraud—that was done by local election officials. Prosecutors are now investigating the group for criminal misconduct. (The case hasn’t put an end to GOP hypocrisy about voter fraud, however. Last week the attorney general of Texas invoked ACORN to justify similar restrictions on voter registration drives in his state, even though no charges were ever filed against the group.) Maybe in 2013 the Florida legislature should pass legislation specially preventing Republicans from running voter registration drives.
Here’s why this scandal matters: the Florida GOP committed voter registration fraud while undermining the right to vote for everyone else—particularly minority voters, who have been historically disenfranchised in the state and are key supporters of Barack Obama and Florida Democrats. The common thread between these different voter suppression efforts has been to make it more difficult for minority voters to cast a ballot.
So remember this: Republican voter suppression efforts in Florida have been far more destructive than simply handing in a few hundred fraudulent voter registration forms.
The Palm Beach Post was the first newspaper to break the story about the fraudulent voter registration forms that is turning into a national scandal for the GOP. They have posted a letter Congressman Ted Deutch, D-Boca Raton, wrote to Governor Rick Scott demanding an investigation.
October 1, 2012
The Honorable Rick Scott
Governor, State of Florida
400 S. Monroe St.
Tallahassee, FL 32399-0001
Dear Governor Scott:
In light of the large and apparently growing voter fraud scandal engulfing the Republican Party of Florida, I urge you to immediately appoint a bipartisan task force to investigate these allegations and ensure that the integrity of our voting rolls will not be compromised by Strategic Allied Consulting’s deliberately fraudulent voter registration operations. I also urge you to ensure that false registrations submitted by Strategic Allied Consulting do not remain on our rolls, and that you immediately investigate whether any employees involved in this scandal are still working for the Republican Party to register voters in Florida.
Given the explicitly partisan nature of this scandal, assurances must be provided to all Floridians that the investigation into these allegations is thorough and fair. So far, your inaction in the face of this scandal suggests that you are putting partisanship ahead of the integrity of Florida’s elections.
As you know, Strategic Allied Consulting was hired by the Florida Republican Party and paid $1.3 million to register voters in Florida. In Palm Beach County alone, 106 possibly fraudulent forms have already been identified. Now, ten additional counties across the state have also reported suspicious voter registration and change of address forms associated with Strategic Allied Consulting. Allegations surrounding Strategic Allied Consulting alarmingly suggest that Democratic forms were destroyed by its workers and only Republican forms were submitted. Further allegations exist that workers were illegally given quotas of new voters to register, that many forms had similar handwriting with incorrect information, and that even deceased individuals were registered.
Even more disturbing is the possibility that the fraud discovered in Florida really just scratches the surface of a national strategy executed by Strategic Allied Consulting at the direction of the Republican National Committee and Governor Mitt Romney’s presidential campaign. Strategic Allied Consulting was also paid nearly $3 million by the Romney campaign and the Republican National Committee for their work this election cycle. This firm was hired in Florida and elsewhere despite the fact that its founder, Nathan Sproul, has previously run firms accused of major improprieties, including trashing registration forms filed by Democratic voters. Public reports and videos also exist of employees of Strategic Allied Consulting saying that they will only register only Republican voters.
Governor Scott, we are on the cusp of a Presidential election. Disturbing reports suggest that professionally coordinated voter fraud occurred in Florida that is potentially massive in scale. Your silence and inaction are shocking and hypocritical considering you have spent the last year in an expensive and highly controversial effort to purge legitimate citizens from our rolls in a supposed search to find “voter fraud.” Your efforts to purge 182,000 individuals from our voting rolls continued until we discovered that the list was nakedly partisan and so error-ridden that it contained the names of tens of thousands of legitimate voters, including small business owners and a decorated World War II hero. Now, when an actual voter fraud scheme has apparently been discovered in our state, there is neither room nor time for the partisan allegiances that typically guide your Administration’s actions.
Governor Scott, you now have an opportunity to prove that you care about voter fraud even if involves the Florida Republican Party, the Republican National Committee, and Mitt Romney’s presidential campaign. I urge you to immediately take the following actions:
1) Work directly with all of supervisors of elections to ensure only legitimate voters were registered by Strategic Allied Consulting;
2) Appoint a bipartisan task force to investigate what, if any, damage has been done by these allegedly fraudulent registration activities, and the potentially criminal practices undertaken by Strategic Allied Consulting, Mr. Sproul, and every employee of this organization who registered voters in Florida;
3) Ensure that any individual who assisted or coordinated with Strategic Allied Consulting’s efforts is temporarily barred by the State from voter registration activities pending the outcome of a full investigation into the potentially criminal voter registration efforts undertaken by this organization;
4) Locate the daily logs of every Strategic Allied Consulting worker in order to facilitate supervisors of elections to identify all records submitted by Strategic Allied Consulting for independent verification; and
5) Establish an outreach campaign to identify and alert independent and Democratic voters who may have attempted to register with Strategic Allied Consulting only to have their registration forms destroyed and coordinate with the supervisors of elections to assist in correctly registering all eligible voters who may have been impacted by this scandal.
I look forward to working with you directly to contain and repair the potentially devastating damage to the integrity of our election system.
MEMBER OF CONGRESS