NUMBER OF NAMES ORIGINALLY TARGETED BY GOV. RICK SCOTT IN THE 2012 VOTER PURGE;
AFTER PUBLIC AND FEDERAL SCRUTINY, THAT NUMBER WAS REDUCED TO 198
PORTION OF THAT ORIGINAL LIST WITH HISPANIC SURNAMES, DESPITE THE FACT THAT JUST 14 PERCENT OF REGISTERED FLORIDIAN VOTERS ARE HISPANIC
ESTIMATED NUMBER OF POTENTIAL FLORIDIAN VOTERS DISCOURAGED FROM VOTING IN NOVEMBER 2012 BY LONG LINES THAT REPORTEDLY AFFECTED BLACK AND LATINO VOTERS TWICE AS MUCH AS WHITE VOTERS
“YOU CAN BELIEVE THAT FLORIDA’S LEGISLATURE IS CHOMPING AT THE BIT FOR THE NEXT LEGISLATIVE SESSION TO SEE WHAT OTHER VOTER SUPPRESSION TACTICS THEY CAN GET AWAY WITH NOW THAT THE VOTING RIGHTS ACT NO LONGER KEEPS OUR LEGISLATURE IN CHECK.”
– AMERICAN CIVIL LIBERTIES UNION OF FLORIDA DIRECTOR HOWARD SIMON IN A JULY 24 PRESS RELEASE
Sources: Think Progress, ACLU
In a week that finds this particular publication resplendent in the jewels of dressed-up democracy via our Best of Orlando poll, it’s interesting to note that real democracy – the kind that requires voter registration and participation in person – is currently under fire in a very big way in the state of Florida. Of course, the fact that Gov. Rick Scott and the Republican Legislature have been averse to an inclusive and fair election process isn’t exactly news. It’s just that now their cruel intentions have been vindicated by the U.S. Supreme Court, and, consequentially, by federal courts in Florida. Do you feel that? It’s the urge to purge again, princess.
Two years ago, citing nascent “voter fraud” that some Republicans have since admitted is code for “racism,” the Legislature was totally cool with shortening early voting hours and punishing voter-registration groups. (This year, some of that was undone – but not all of it – following November’s long-lined election-day clusterfuck.) Then last year, Gov. Scott and Secretary of State Ken Detzner pulled a list of 180,000 foreign-sounding names out of the air and attempted to purge them from the state’s voter rolls, prompting the U.S. Department of Justice to shut them down (even as local election officials rightfully scoffed at the voter-roll scrubbing). If you’re not white and rich and conservative with a simple last name in Florida, your state government doesn’t much care for your right to vote.
Things got worse on July 24, when the conservative U.S. Court of Appeals for the 11th Circuit dismissed a year-old challenge to the purge filed in part by the American Civil Liberties Union that called into question the state’s methods in choosing the people it would force to suffer for their suffrage. The move was in the pipeline ever since the U.S. Supreme Court kicked the preclearance portions out of the Voting Rights Act last month, claiming that the anti-racism methods were no longer required in this post-racial society. Hell, we have a black president, right?
And even though Congress – under an allowance from the high court’s ruling in Shelby County v. Holder – is hard at work crafting a new algorithm to more accurately represent the bigotry of the modern age, jerk-states like Texas, North Carolina and (reportedly) Florida are rushing to take advantage of the present ambiguity and wipe out minority voters while the getting’s good.
On July 24, the ACLU raised its hackles in response to the lower court’s dismissal of its case, reminding the media and whoever else would listen that it was only last June when the U.S. Department of Justice came down hard on Florida for its purge tactics, pointing to its “critical imperfections” that led to “unlawful conduct” by the state. “We are in an age when voter suppression is becoming more sophisticated and more widespread, and until Congress re-enacts the formula that triggers the Voting Rights Act’s preclearance requirement, we will need to use other weapons to protect that right to vote in Florida,” ACLU Florida director Howard Simon said in a statement.
On July 25, U.S. reps. Alcee Hastings, D-Miramar, and Ted Deutch, D-Boca Raton, released a joint statement (in the form of a letter to Gov. Scott) urging the governor to halt the inevitable return to the flawed original list of 180,000 by Detzner. “We request that you immediately inform the public as to whether your administration is again operating off that error-ridden list and what measures are being taken to ensure that no legitimate Florida voter is included on it,” they wrote.
Thankfully, it appears that the DOJ is already on this. According to the Washington Post, Attorney General Eric Holder Jr. “is expected to announce that the Justice Department is using other sections of the Voting Rights Act to bring lawsuits or take other legal action to prevent states from implementing certain laws, including requirements to present certain kinds of identification in order to vote.”
In fact, it’s already happening. The DOJ is putting its muscle behind a challenge to some unseemly redistricting in Texas, and will likely do the same when a challenge to that state’s voter ID law arises, according to the Post. Holder hinted that he was going to subvert congressional foot-dragging on the Voting Rights Act when he spoke in Orlando at the NAACP conference earlier this month.
“But what about states’ rights?” you will likely hear your redneck brother screaming over the phone in the coming months. Well, there aren’t any when the state is wrong.
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