Why Voter Suppression in Florida Should Scare the Hell Out of You

rick scott
Gov. Rick Scott of Florida
Hey, remember when George W. Bush won the 2000 presidential election, fair and square? Me neither. I do remember thousands of Florida residents (mostly Democrats) having their constitutional right to cast ballots taken away from them for completely bogus reasons thanks to Florida's Secretary of State at the time, Republican Katherine Harris: Hey you, potential voter,  you're ... ineligible! Yeah, cause, um ... you're a convicted felon! Oh, no you're not ... my bad. Oh well. Better luck next time, bro!

Florida, with its 29 electoral votes, is what they call a "crucial battleground state." What does that mean? Well, let's put it this way: The practice of voting suppression in states like Florida (and Ohio) can pretty much throw the entire election -- in 2000 the presidency was determined by a mere 537 votes. 


And the forces responsible for that disaster are doing everything in their power to make the same thing  happen tomorrow. Here's how:

1. Refusing to extend early voting hours. Governor Rick Scott of Florida put his foot down on this effort to make voting easier for people like shift workers who have a hard time making it to the polls. In Miami-Dade County, people who tried to participate in an in-person absentee voting session ended up getting their cars towed! 

2. Virtually shutting down community-based voter registration drives. Organizations like the League of Women Voters and Rock the Vote registered hundreds of thousands of (mostly young, low-income and/or minority) new voters every year ... until 2011 in Florida, when legislature passed a bunch of requirements later deemed "unconstitutional."

3. Felon disenfranchisement. Good luck voting in Florida if you've ever broken the law (or even if you haven't): Since Rick Scott came along, people "who have completed their sentences, even those for nonviolent offenses, must wait at least five years before they may apply to the Clemency Board to get their voting rights back (and something as simple as a mistaken arrest can reset that five-year clock)." How many individuals does this affect? Well, the "ACLU of Florida estimates a backlog of at least 100,000 Americans who have applied to the governor’s board but had no action taken on their applications."

Pretty terrifying stuff, right? Al Gore totally deserves an apology ...

Are you worried about voter suppression throwing tomorrow's election?


Image via Gage Skidmore/Flickr

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