Tuesday, June 19, 2018
News Roundup

Hernando vote suppression concerns unfounded, but vigilance is needed

The charges of voter suppression are not justified.

The concerns about it definitely are.

I'm referring to Hernando County's Republican supervisor of elections, Shirley Anderson, and her plan to close six polling places.

One of these is Precinct 11, in the mostly black neighborhood of south Brooksville, where Democrats outnumber Republicans by a ratio of more than 3 to 1.

If you look at that, and only that, you can see why the chairman of the local Democratic Party, the head of the county branch of the NAACP and the County Commission's lone Democrat all have attacked Anderson's plan, saying it has less to do with the stated goal of saving money and more to do with discouraging unwanted voters.

But small precincts are obvious candidates for consolidation, and the south Brooksville precinct was the second-smallest in the county.

Anderson not only plans to shut down the very smallest one — the Republican-leaning Precinct 26 in Clover Leaf Farms — but will also close the polling place of a larger, very heavily Republican precinct in Timber Pines.

The money saved — about $8,000 per election and $45,000 the next time the county replaces its voting machines — will allow Anderson's office to open two new locations to satisfy the increasing demand for early voting.

One of these sites will be the very same South Brooksville Community Center that has housed Precinct 11. If you really want to shut out Democratic voters, you don't offer eight additional days of voting in a neighborhood that's significantly bluer than the state of Massachusetts.

In the face of these facts, the plan's opponents fall back on a bunch of other dubious claims, most of them based on the patronizing assumption that it's a big deal to force poor African-Americans on Election Day to vote at the Jerome Brown Community Center in Brooksville.

Considering it's less than two miles from their current polling place, I think they'll manage.

But even if there's no reason to believe the arguments against precinct consolidation, there are plenty of reasons why people are arguing:

For example, the shortening of early voting hours before the 2012 election. And the bogus claims of rampant voter fraud. And the equally bogus lists of supposedly illegal voters, many of which happened to have names that were Hispanic-looking (read: Democratic-looking).

These were part of a suppression strategy, one that was aimed at Democrats and cooked up by Republicans.

And it's difficult to think of anybody in the county more Republican than Anderson. She's served as a lead staffer for two Republican U.S. representatives and is, in her words, "very good friends" with Andrew Ingoglia, the father of Blaise Ingoglia, chairman of the county Republican Party and vice chairman of the state party.

She's a Republican "soldier," who in her job as elections supervisor is "supposed to be nonpartisan," said Steve Zeledon, chairman of Hernando's Democratic Executive Committee.

He's kind of right. The office isn't nonpartisan, but it should be. That would give the public more confidence in the fairness of supervisors. And last year several supervisors and candidates for the job told Times metro columnist Sue Carlton that their jobs would be easier without the burden of party affiliation.

But because this isn't going away anytime soon, it's up to supervisors to act as if these designations do not exist — and up to voters to judge supervisors' performance on that basis.

Anderson knows this, she said.

"I'm working hard to run my office in a nonpartisan way because I know people are looking at me."

As they should.

Comments
Rays journal: Blake Snell outlasts Justin Verlander in 2-1 win

Rays journal: Blake Snell outlasts Justin Verlander in 2-1 win

HOUSTON — The starting pitcher walked seven over seven otherwise solid innings Tuesday. That seemed weird enough for the Rays. But then the next pitcher they brought in was the one who started Monday's game. Even more bizarre.And then there was...
Updated: 7 minutes ago
Rays’ Kevin Kiermaier returns, with energy to spare

Rays’ Kevin Kiermaier returns, with energy to spare

HOUSTON — Energy.That's what Kevin Kiermaier said he felt he'd bring most in rejoining the Rays Tuesday against the Astros after missing two-plus months recovering from thumb surgery."I like to think I bring energy on both sides of the ball, wh...
Updated: 2 hours ago
As Tesla races to meet Model 3 deadline, factory pressures and suspicions grow

As Tesla races to meet Model 3 deadline, factory pressures and suspicions grow

Tesla chief Elon Musk said last week that the company’s layoffs of 9 percent of its workforce wouldn’t affect production as the all-electric automaker races to build thousands of new Model 3 sedans a week.But documents the company filed days later wi...
Updated: 2 hours ago
Norris Trophy could be good consolation for Lightning’s Victor Hedman

Norris Trophy could be good consolation for Lightning’s Victor Hedman

Victor Hedman is talking from a hotel room in Las Vegas and admits he's a little jet-lagged."Actually, very jet-lagged," Hedman says.That's what happens when you take a flight from Sweden to the party capital of the world.But he knows exactly what he...
Updated: 3 hours ago

Hillsborough school district will pursue two kinds of local taxes

TAMPA — Hillsborough County School District officials took an important step Tuesday toward asking the voters to pay higher taxes for schools that, they say, are not getting enough money from the state.The board voted 5-0 to submit a tax referendum r...
Updated: 4 hours ago
New Port Richey man faces sexual battery charge

New Port Richey man faces sexual battery charge

NEW PORT RICHEY — A 33-year-old man was arrested Monday on a charge of sexual battery, accused of assaulting a 10-year-old girl.Jonathan Wells was booked into the Pasco County jail, where he was being held Tuesday without bail.The assault took place ...
Updated: 5 hours ago

House bill would detain families — togetherThe Republican House compromise bill on immigration would end the family separation issue at the border — but Democrats won’t support it. The bill mandates that the Department of Homeland Security hold any a...
Updated: 5 hours ago

WashingtonSenate approves $716B for 2019 military budgetThe U.S. Senate on Monday voted to give the military $716 billion for 2019, approving one of the biggest defense budgets in modern American history despite concerns from some economists and lawm...
Updated: 5 hours ago
For starters: Rays at Astros, with Kiermaier back and an ace-high matchup

For starters: Rays at Astros, with Kiermaier back and an ace-high matchup

UPDATE, 6:45: Cash said Smith will continue to play a lot, getting time in LF and RF, meaning something of a rotation system for rookie Johnny Field and veteran Carlos Gomez.UPDATE, 4:49: Kiermaier is batting leadoff and playing center as expected, w...
Updated: 6 hours ago
Romano: A Tampa Bay ‘superstar’ caught in the crosshairs of Trump’s border policy

Romano: A Tampa Bay ‘superstar’ caught in the crosshairs of Trump’s border policy

At this moment, she is Tampa Bay’s most influential export. A smart, accomplished and powerful attorney making life-altering decisions on an international stage.But what of tomorrow? And the day after?When the story of President Donald Trump’s border...
Updated: 6 hours ago