Addressing voter suppression-Part 2

Editors note: This is Part 2 of a three-part series. Part 1 addressed Voter Participation, and Part 3 will address Voter Fraud. Stay tuned!

By Charles Magoffin, Charlotte County Dems Writer

After a surge of voter interest and participation in 2008, vote suppression efforts across the country have been on the rise. More than 30 states introduced voter suppression legislation in 2011, and 16 states passed such measures.

The five states with the highest rates of voter turnout in 2008 were Minnesota, Wisconsin, Maine, New Hampshire, and Colorado. All five introduced voter suppression laws.

Suppression takes many forms. Nationally nine types have been identified:

  1. Voter registration problems
  2. Voter purges
  3. Strict voter ID and ballot requirements
  4. Voter confusion
  5. Voter intimidation and harassment
  6. Poll closures and long lines
  7. Malfunctioning voting equipment
  8. Disenfranchisement of justice-involved individuals
  9. Gerrymandering

As the chart shows, in 2016 Florida ranked 19th in voting difficulty. Any forms of suppression make it easier to disenfranchise potential voters.  For example, Florida’s voters passed Amendment 4 in 2018. Going into that election, Florida was one of four states (along with Iowa, Kentucky, and Virginia) where convicted felons do not regain the right to vote until and unless a state officer or board restores an individual’s voting rights.

The amendment was passed overwhelmingly (64%) and restored voting rights for roughly 1.4 million Floridians, making it one of the largest voting rights triumphs since the 1964 Voting Rights Act. However, Republican lawmakers immediately moved to sabotage the historic effort. The GOP-controlled legislature passed a law (S.B. 7066) along party lines that required ex-felons also to pay restitution, fines, and fees before being able to vote.

A lawsuit was immediately filed by 17 ex-felons and heard in U.S. District Court in Tallahassee by Judge Robert Hinkle. On May 24, 2020, he struck down the law as “unconstitutional because it required felons to pay restitution, fines, and fees before being able to vote … (which) violates at least two provisions of the Constitution, the Equal Protection Clause, and the 24th Amendment, which bans poll taxes … one cannot get blood from a turnip or money from a person unable to pay.”

True to form, Gov. Ron DeSantis appealed the judge’s decision. The 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals blocked Hinkle’s decision, and on July 16, 2020, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled to temporarily allow this law to remain in effect while the case is heard next month by a federal appeals court.

Be aware that as Floridians we all could face some or all of the following problems on November 3rd:

  • Poll closures and long lines from an inadequate number of poll workers resulting from the impact of COVID-19;
  • Confusion since your voting location may have changed as a result of COVID-19;
  • Registration problems unless first-timers check their status, register, or update existing info here; and
  • Intimidation and harassment since discarded voted absentee ballots and provisional ballots for purported signature mismatches have occurred in Florida

So plan ahead! Be sure you are registered to vote… and vote by mail and early if at all possible. If you prefer to go to the polls on election day, remember you’re required to bring a photo ID with a signature when voting.

The Republican disenfranchisement machine (e.g., false advertising, Facebook and Twitter posts, etc.) is already in full force, and will only grow louder and bolder until November 3rd. Bogus voter fraud claims are and will be used to justify suppression tactics.  Tune in to Part 3 to separate voter fraud fact versus fiction.  

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