Fighting Back

06.01.12

Florida, Banana Republic

The voter-purge law in Florida is obviously nothing more than an attempt to steal the state for Mitt Romney. Let's start with this, from the Tampa Times back in March:

We couldn't resist diving in: Are there more shark attacks than cases of voter fraud in Florida? We found data from the Florida Department of State, which monitors elections, and the Florida Museum of Natural History in Gainesville, which has a renowned ichthyology department. (Ichthyology is the study of fish.)

The shark attack figures include documented instances of sharks attacking human victims. The voter fraud cases indicate the number of cases deemed legally sufficient for an investigation by the Florida Department of Law Enforcement.

If we were considering 2011 alone, voter fraud cases exceeded shark attacks. That year, there were 11 shark attacks and 14 investigations of voter fraud.

But the three years before that showed shark attacks happened more frequently than voter fraud cases. In 2010, shark attacks outnumbered voter fraud cases by 14 to 10, including one fatal shark attack. In 2009, the numbers were 19 to 9. Even in 2008, a major election year, there were 28 shark attacks but only 16 voter fraud cases.

The article notes that a "case" of fraud could include multiple allegations; however it also notes that a case means merely an investigation, not a conviction. So of these 16 cases, we don't know how many never even were found to be violation of the law. This is just not a big problem.

Now let's proceed to the federal judge's decision yesterday. He left some of the law intact, but he threw out the provisions that were intended to intimidate groups like Rock the Vote from going out and registering voters.

One provision required those registering voters to turn in their information within 48 hours. The other one was far more punitive. It subjected those who registered non-citizens to vote--even unknowingly--to a felony conviction and up to five years in prison. Would you go into an immigrant community and try to register people knowing that if you got a couple of things wrong even accidentally, you could end up a convicted felon?

There is only one reason to pass such a law: to keep potential Democrats from being registered and voting. Because the kinds of people being registered are far more likely to be Democrats, especially among blacks and Latinos (non-Cubans are now the majority of Florida's Latino population, which gave 57 percent of its vote to Obama in 2008). It's pure banana republic stuff, but American style, done under cover of law and legitimacy.

Think Progress is doing great work on the Florida situation--also, the journalist Ari Berman. TP is trying as best it can--lots of counties aren't exactly cooperating--to document how many citizens are being targeted in the current purge. See here. Berman's reporting finds that up to 35,000 ciizens could be wrongly barred from voting.

Finally, news that broke just last night: The Justice Department is getting into the act on Voting Rights Act grounds. Because of past racial discrimination, five Florida counties are "covered" under the VRA, meaning that Florida has to "pre-clear" new voting schemes with Justice. But in this case, the state simply blew off the law. Well, the governor--who is, let us not forget, a crook pure and simple--does have a history of that.

I'd written Florida off for Obama. After all, they stole it once. The machinery is in place. Wouldn't be hard to steal again, and they still might. But it's good to see people fighting. And I should conclude by saying that this isn't about Obama-Romney in the first instance. It's about one of the most fundamental rights, and ginned up and nonexistent "controversy," like the Acorn business, drummed up by people who are doing nothing but revealing their true mindset because they simply can't imagine that people registering voters aren't doing something dishonest to advantage their own side.