Most Florida voters don’t know it, but come the Aug. 14 primary election, the majority of them won’t have the same opportunities to cast a ballot as Floridians in five counties because the state is enforcing two different sets of rules. That’s the basis of the latest lawsuit seeking to halt Gov. Rick Scott’s assault on voting rights. And it shows how determined the governor is to ignore law and precedent in order to manipulate the election process. On June 29, the American Civil liberties Union of Florida, the National Council of La Raza, the nation’s largest Hispanic civil rights organization, and state Sen. Arthenia Joyner, D-Tampa, filed an administrative petition challenging the state’s policy that has created an illegal, dual system of elections. Five Florida counties (Hendry, Hardee, Collier, Monroe and Hillsborough) operate under rules that were the law before 2011. These counties are “covered jurisdictions” under the Voting Rights Act. Consequently, any change in voting law or procedure must be approved (“precleared”) by the U.S. Justice Department or the federal court in Washington before it can be implemented. The remaining 62 Florida counties are operating under rules approved by the 2011 Legislature and immediately implemented by the Scott administration.
As such, voters in 62 counties will enjoy fewer early-voting days, and they won’t be able to update their address on election day and still vote a regular, not a provisional, ballot. (The law’s restrictions on volunteer voter registration programs, enacted at the same time, have been blocked so far by the federal court.) These are not mere changes to address “potential fraud” or enhance the efficiency of elections. They were intended to make it more difficult for minority and elderly voters, working people and students to vote and have their vote counted.
There are now different election laws and procedures on either end of the bridges across Tampa Bay; different rules for Naples and neighboring Bonita Springs; different rules for Miami and the Florida Keys. Joyner’s district spans three counties that operate under two different voting laws. This is a recipe for chaos and confusion. Has Scott forgotten Florida’s embarrassing performance in the 2000 election?
Full Article: Election confusion looms in Florida – Tampa Bay Times.