Watching a short segment between commercial breaks on The Rachel Maddow Show tonight, I learned that the Governor of my state (I can't bring myself to call him my Governor) has called for a review of the general election and a report on how to improve the process. Are you freaking kidding me? Seriously! I live in Florida. I was one of the lucky ones. I only stood in line for one hour to Early Vote. I watched the news and saw the images of the long, long lines here in Florida. I remember reading the news about requests for extended hours when it was evident voters were already standing in line for hours when Early Voting started.
But the focus largely remains on early voting. On Thursday, Former State Senator Dan Gelber implored Scott to extend the early voting period to Sunday (as it stands now, the period ends Saturday at 7pm). “In parts of Florida many citizens — including veterans and seniors — have had to wait for as many as 5 hours to simply express the most fundamental right guaranteed to them in a democracy,” Gelber wrote in his letter to Scott, according to the Miami Herald.Break the law? Okay my head is just going to explode? A Republican in Florida didn't want to extend early voting because it would break the law? Did he say that with a straight face? Would that be the same law that the super-Republican majority in Florida's legislature passed to reduce early voting hours? Even though ...
Gelber’s fellow Democrats — including Florida Democratic Party Chairman Rod Smith and League of Women Voters President Deirdre Macnab — also sent appeals to Scott about extending early voting hours. Republicans derided the Democrats’ pleas as partisan attacks.“Florida has a law in regard to early voting — this law provides for 96 hours of operation for early voting locations, the exact same amount of hours as 2008,” Mike Grissom, executive director of the Republican Party of Florida commented. “The fact is simple as this: more Floridians have cast a ballot as of 5 days out than in 2008. For one side to demand that we break the law because they feel like they are losing is wrong.”
It should be noted, however, that the number of early voting hours in 2008 was actually 120. Ironically, then-Republican Governor Charlie Crist issued the order expanding the hours after seeing the long voting lines firsthand.Who do they think they're kidding? I haven't heard anything about this guy, Adam Putnam, who used to be my representative in the House of Representatives in Washington since he gave up his seat to become Commissioner of Agriculture. And now This is what he had to say about extending the voting hours?
“There’s no unusual circumstances,” Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putman, a GOP member, said. “There’s no weather-related events. There’s nothing out there in the state of Florida right now that would create the basis for an emergency order for the governor to produce.”So people standing on line for up to 9 hours ... longer than a regular work day ... doesn't constitute an unusual circumstance? Ha! And what did these Republican leaders get for their stance on making people stand in line for all those hours? Well, let's see, President Obama won the State of Florida. Senator Bill Nelson won reelection to the Senate. Democrats added four more Representatives to Florida's Congressional delegation. Oh, and better yet, Democrats broke the GOP supermajority with historic gains in the Florida Legislature.
And yet today, Governor Rick Scott had the gall to to put out this announcement on Saturday:
“Around 8.5 million Floridians voted in this general election – more votes cast than in any other election in state history. A record of nearly 4.8 million Floridians also voted early and absentee ballots. We are glad that so many voters made their voices heard in this election, but as we go forward we must see improvements in our election process.
“I have asked Secretary of State Ken Detzner to review this general election and report on ways we can improve the process after all the races are certified. As part of this evaluation, Secretary Detzner will meet with County Election Supervisors, who are elected or appointed to their position – especially those who ran elections in counties where voters experienced long lines of four hours or more. We need to make improvements for Florida voters and it is important to look at processes on the state and the county level. We will carefully review suggestions for bettering the voting process in our state.
“Now that the election is over we have an opportunity to come together – regardless of political party – and focus on the issues important to Florida families. Our families care about getting a great job, a quality education and keeping their cost of living low. Making our state better for Florida families is our ultimate goal.”
I've got news for Rick Scott. He's up for reelection in Florida is in 2014, and as a Florida resident I intend to work my butt off to make sure he gets defeated. I remember how you tried to purge actual citizens from our voter rolls claiming that they were noncitizens. I also remember a poll from PPP that came out in June.
Several polls have shown now that Rick Scott would lose in 2014 if Charlie Crist became a Democrat and ran against him but our newest survey finds that Democrats might not need that high of a profile candidate to knock off Scott, at least if he remains this unpopular. 5% of voters in the state have a positive opinion of State Senator Nan Rich. Only 14% have even heard of her. And despite that she still leads Scott by 12 points in a hypothetical match up, 47-35.Now maybe Rick Scott is one of those Republicans that doesn't believe the polls. Too bad for him that PPP was rated the most accurate poll of 2012. But, Rick Scott, this Floridian isn't going to forget the fact that you watched as citizens of this state stood in line for up to nine hours to exercise their right to vote. Just like we stood on those lines and voted despite your attempt to keep us from voting, we will remember the 2012 election and the part you played when time comes to vote for a new Governor in 2014.
I can't help but wonder how much larger President Obama's margin of victory would have been if we had been able to put a stop to the GOP's voter suppression efforts. How many more votes would have been cast if people didn't give up and leave those long lines? That's why I've started a new group, Do You Know Why We Vote On Tuesday? to work towards fixing our broken election system. Please consider joining. More about the group in this diary and this diary.
The video and transcript of tonight's The Rachel Maddow Show segment is below the fleur-de-orange.
Here's the direct link to the MSNBC site for those who can't watch embedded videos on an iPad or other device.
One more time. [MSNBC Election Theme Music Plays.]
I play this at home sometimes. [Laughs.] All right, over the weekend, the 2012 presidential election finally came to a close as the great State of Florida reported that its long, long, long process of tallying up the votes of finally complete and the winner in the State of Florida was, hit the board, President Obama. According to Florida's results, it was about as close as you could get without triggering an automatic recount.
The President winning Florida with 50% of the vote compared to 49% for Mr. Romney. So in the final account, this is the electoral map. President Obama with 332 electoral votes; Mitt Romney with 206. Turn off the music now. It's distracting. Away, away. Stop; it's going to get me too excited. Okay, ultimately though the decisive thing about Florida was not who Florida voted for; it was the state becoming a showcase for the unreasonable lengths and lengths of of time people had to go to to exercise their right to vote in the state.
Florida's Republican-controlled legislature, of course, cut down Early Voting days by almost half. Republican Governor Rick Scott broke with even Republican tradition and refused to extend Early Voting hours even in the face of six, seven, even eight-hour lines in the state. But now that it's done. Now that Florida's 29 Electoral College votes have been allocated, Governor Rick Scott says he is ready to address the state's problem telling reporters, quote I have asked [the] Secretary of State to review this general election and report on ways we can improve the process after all the races are certified. As part of this, he [Secretary Detzner] will meet with County Election Supervisors ... especially those who ran elections in counties where voters experienced long lines of four hours or more [See Governor Rick Scott Statement on Results for 2012 Election]. So waiting in line for four hours doesn't trigger any special attention. You have to be more than four hours for that.
When's the last time you waited in line outdoors for four hours for something? When's the last time you thought it would be okay to ask your grandmother to wait in line outdoors for four hours for something?