Voting Laws Worked in Florida for Decades yet Rick Scott Changed them Despite Overwhelming Voter Disapproval
For seventy-two (72) years the non-partisan Florida League of Women Voters ran registration drives to help eligible voters register to vote in the state of Florida. The reason they could do this is that the state required completed registration forms by ten (10) days after a Florida registration form was completed.
In May 2011 Republican Governor Rick Scott and the Republican legislature in Florida changed all that when they passed overly stringent election law H.B. 1355 which creates unnecessary barriers to registering to vote and casting a ballot. The bill cuts early voting from fifteen (15) days to eight (8) days. And, even though election officials requested the state provide more early voting sites for voters, the Governor and Secretary of State rejected that request.
According to the Miami Herald, Governor Scott’s office received “14,000 calls and e-mails in opposition” of the voting restriction bill and only “1,300 in favor” of the bill.
The Miami Herald news report stated:
A notation by Scott’s staff said,
“Majority oppose. Urging Governor to veto these bills because they change our voting laws, making it more difficult for some voters to cast their vote.”
This restrictive new election law requires organizations like the League of Women Voters return completed Florida registration forms to the proper authorities within a mere 48 hours or 2 days instead of the previous 10-day deadline.
If a person or organization responsible for registering a Florida voter fails to get the registration form into the proper office within 48-hours, they could face fines as high as $1,000 and possible civil prosecution. Is this something that will encourage people to register to vote or help others to do it? No, it discourages third party organizations because they could face stiff fines.
Governor Scott Passed Election Bill Despite Voter Disapproval of Law
Governor Scott and the Florida legislature completely dismissed the will of the Florida voters who protested passage of the election law. They are not interested in insuring that more people are able to register to vote or actually vote.
Florida is a key battleground state for the 2012 election and the GOP War on Voting is underway. Part of the multi-pronged approach includes altering election laws. However, when GOP leaders make jokes about voter suppression, they reveal their real intentions about how they hope to win an election, not on the merits, but through dirty tricks.
For example, recently former Republican Governor of Arkansas Mike Huckabee urged Ohio voters to deceive citizens who are against Gov. Kasich’s anti-union measures by telling them they could vote on a different day than November 8th. This is from a party that invokes the words “freedom,” “patriotic” and “common sense” in almost every other word.