It’s common knowledge that Florida cut back on early voting in 2011 to reduce the turnout of blacks and other groups likely to vote for Democrats. But it’s refreshing to see that former top Republicans in the state are now saying so out loud. In an interview with the Palm Beach Post published on Sunday, the former chairman of the Florida Republican party said voter suppression was the sole reason for the change to the election rules. Jim Greer, the party chairman in from 2006 to 2010, said he went to several meetings during which Republican officials discussed the damage that early voting — which brought an unprecedented number of black voters to the polls in 2008 — had done to the party. “The Republican Party, the strategists, the consultants, they firmly believe that early voting is bad for Republican Party candidates,” Mr. Greer said. “It’s done for one reason and one reason only.”
He made it clear the stated reason for the change, to reduce voter fraud, was nonsense.
“They never came in to see me and tell me we had a fraud issue,” he told the Post. “It’s all a marketing ploy.”
It’s true that Mr. Greer is under indictment — charged with stealing money from the party — and Republican officials have dismissed his comments as motivated by bitterness. But other party officials and consultants, including former Gov. Charlie Crist, confirmed his observations in the Post article.
What they’re admitting has long been self-evident, since there is no connection between early voting and fraud. But their publicly admitting this illuminates how the Republican party reacted after President Obama’s election in 2008, in Florida and many other states. The cry of “voter fraud” was used to justify a range of sins against democracy, from cutting back on early voting and registration drives to unnecessary photo ID cards.