Having solved all other problems, the Florida Legislature now turns to the most dangerous threat of all …Voting. No kidding. The 2011 Legislature is considering, and its committees have approved so far, bills that would:
• Cut Florida’s early-voting period (nearly one out of five ballots were cast early in 2010) from two weeks to one.
• Bar anyone who has moved or changed a name, such as newly married women, from updating their information at the polls on Election Day and receiving a regular ballot. They would have to cast “provisional” ballots instead.
• Crack down on, and expand penalties for, groups that try to register new voters — which used to be considered an all-American activity.
• Make it even harder for citizens to change the Florida Constitution by setting an earlier expiration date for petition signatures.
The line in Tallahassee is that these changes simply “clean up” voting in Florida, make it more “efficient,” and prevent “fraud.”
Yet as a whole, Senate Bill 2086 and House Bill 1355 are astonishing. They reverse a decades-long trend of making it easier to register and vote in America.
My Democratic friends claim it is a Republican plot. I do think that’s part of it. After all, even though Florida has more registered Democrats, the Legislature itself is two-thirds Republican.