Slashing Democracy 

Florida's attempt to scrub the voter rolls is un-American. Five good reasons why you should care about it.

Page 3 of 4

When a legion of voting and civil rights groups banded together to sue Florida on the matter of its mass purge — citing, among various racial implications, the fact that there is a federal election within the next ninety days (that being the August 14 Florida primary), the response from the DOJ was swift and clear: The purge likely does violate the aforementioned laws, and should probably be stopped.

Given a few days to mull it over in a festering conservative think tank, Florida Secretary of State Ken Detzner conjured the old red herring of "widespread voter fraud" that has yet to be quantified in any real manner. Then Florida went a step further, suing the US Department of Homeland Security for not providing adequate information from a federal database for the state to purge even more voters. "I want everybody to vote ... but not non-US citizens," Scott told CNN on June 12. "That's illegal." Of course, when your database is vastly inaccurate such prudence doesn't apply.

Because It's Racist

Don't believe anyone who tells you that it's not. Even if the process itself is blind — that is to say, even if the voter purge is being implemented purely on data and not on the color of voters' skin — the statistics are not. Latinos make up more than 58 percent of those contained in the flawed voter-purge list being used to scrub the rolls. It's no secret that the Hispanic vote has yet to be fully claimed by any party — Hispanic voters, pollsters point out, are often swing voters, less likely to vote along party lines. Which means they are unpredictable. Which means it's better to just keep them from getting to the polls in the first place, rather than take a chance that they vote and fail to vote for the "right" candidate (cough cough, Mitt Romney).

Pair this anti-Latino scrubbing effort with Governor Scott's earlier chipping away at efforts that mobilize the black vote, and ... well, the ACLU's Simon doesn't mince words: "There is a racial aspect to this and all the other voting-suppression measures that were adopted by the legislature and championed by the governor and now being defended by the governor," he said. "Cutting in half the number of early voting days and specifically banning voting on the Sunday before the Tuesday election, for instance. Please, somebody explain to me how that addresses voter fraud, rather than simply make it more difficult for working people to vote? And to make it more difficult for the Souls to the Polls program, which so many African-American churches were engaged in, impossible. That's what it was designed to do, and fraud is being used as an excuse to make it more difficult to vote, more difficult to register to vote, and more difficult to have your vote counted."

Because the Corporations Are Winning

The injury currently being added to the insult of Governor Scott's wild-eyed suppression tactics comes in the form of increased political clout among billionaire CEOs and the regulation-fearing corporations they represent. Part of the ramp-up in influence comes by way of the 2010 Citizens United ruling by the US Supreme Court that concluded that corporations are people, too, and as such, have the right to give back-scratching billions to whatever political campaigns might tickle their fancy.

But even with that ruling, the rise of the Super PAC — a far less transparent means of funding candidates and issues — has attracted the lion's share of shadowy corporate money. What that means is that voters in general need to avoid an influx of lies parading across their television screens in order to make their own informed choices. But, as is the nature of advertising, it also indirectly means that general impressions and brand recognition are being nefariously directed by corporate interests. You buy your candidates like you buy your soda these days. It's no surprise that many of these corporate interests have likewise been trying to suppress voter registration at the state level via one-stop lobbying organizations such as the American Legislative Executive Council, a backroom factory for derailing progressive policies. The only way to counter the wholesale purchase of the electoral process is to have a strong, informed, and varied pool of representation on the voter rolls. This, dear reader, is exactly what conservatives do not want. They don't want you. 

Postscript I

US District Court Judge Robert Hinkle handed down a decision last week allowing the State of Florida to carry on its flawed and controversial voter purge. The US Department of Justice had sued to halt the purge, claiming that it violated federal law, which prohibits states from enacting systematic voter-roll purges within ninety days of an election. Florida's primary election is scheduled for August 14 — less than two months away.

But Hinkle ruled that the law doesn't apply to non-citizens. And since the state's purge is supposed to be targeting non-citizens, it gets the green light to carry on. Despite the fact that, in its zeal to scrub those rolls, Governor Scott and Company are sweeping completely legit voters into their net of alleged illegals, the state's logic has been that a few inconvenienced voters are just collateral damage in the larger fight to root out non-citizen voters wherever they are found.

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