Governor Scott restarts voter purge in Florida
By Roger Caldwell
Governor Scott is planning a new effort to fix Florida’s voter rolls, even though they don’t appear to be broken. Republican governors and legislatures have decided to implement new voter restrictions aimed at minorities, independents, and Democrats. Once the Supreme Court rejected parts of the Voter Rights Acts, it opened new opportunities for states to limit voting.
In a Democracy I was taught that voting was a right and the government’s goal was to allow the largest number of citizens an opportunity to vote. But in 2012, Republicans developed a strategy to limit voting by stopping minorities with new laws, and purging voter rolls. They were unsuccessful, because Eric Holder, the Department of Justice, and voter protection groups filed lawsuits, and claimed many of these new laws violated federal law.
The Department of Justice was extremely successful and many of the states were forced to rescind these new laws. Even though Governor Scott loss his plan to purge voter rolls in 2012, he has recently informed county election supervisors that he plans to continue in 2013 efforts to remove non-citizens from Florida’s voters rolls.
In the 2012 elections, the voting process for Floridians was very embarrassing, and it took some voters 6 hours of waiting in a line to vote. It was a national disgrace and it took 3 days to count the votes. The entire country was laughing at Florida and it appeared the state was not competent, and not able to execute. A shortened early voting period was one of the reasons for long lines, and delaying the final vote tally after the president had been announced the winner.
Instead of Governor Scott developing a plan to make sure the election ran smoothly, he was busy conducting a voter purge. The state initially targeted 180,000 voters believed to be non-citizens, before the elections supervisors identified mistakes. The list was reduced to 2,600 and then to about 260.
“It was sloppy. It was slapdash and it was inaccurate. They were sending us names of people to remove because they were born in Puerto Rico. It was disgusting,” said Polk County Supervisor of Elections Lori Edwards.
Just when it looked like Scott had learned his lesson, and signed a bill in May to reform elections in the state by reinstating early voting days and expanding polling places, he is planning to waste our money with more voter purges. Instead of working to improve the voter system in Florida, he will spend time intimidating minority voters. Texas has acknowledged that their voter purges were motivated by partisan rather racial considerations.
Governor Scott who is a Republican will use integrity as the reason he does voter purges, but everyone knows his goal is to disenfranchise Hispanics and African Americans. A Miami Herald analysis found the effort disproportionately affected Hispanics, Democrats, and independent voters.
The only solution to Governor Scott’s voter mess is to make sure he is a governor for one term. Starting in September 2013, Democrats in Florida must register 150,000 new voters with a goal to defeat Governor Scott in 2014.