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Gov. Rick Scott wants his name off bad election law

So the governor wants his name off a lawsuit filed over Florida's cynical new elections law.

Can you blame him?

Gov. Rick Scott — already sued more times than your average crooked contractor — is named in a suit contesting a new law that brings controversial changes in how we vote.

How controversial? His office got thousands of e-mails while the bill awaited his signature, most urging him to reject something so fundamentally wrong.

The bill's supporters kept saying, honest, it's all about stopping our terrible problem of voter fraud. Except we don't have a terrible problem of voter fraud. And their specifics were beyond scarce.

What the new law will do is make it harder for some citizens — minorities in particular — to vote. How many years would that set Florida back?

Nixing this bad bill with his veto might have been a crowd-pleaser for Scott, a guy whose approval rating has been right up there with Donald Trump's barber. But sign it he did, and was promptly sued by some who see this for what it is.

The new law cuts early voting from two weeks to eight days — up to the same amount of voting hours overall, but fewer days for people busy with their jobs and their lives to get to the polls.

Also, people who moved from the county where they were registered will now be required to cast provisional ballots.

And it makes it harder for third-party groups to register voters. Volunteers in registration efforts must register with the state and face fines if they don't turn in voting forms within 48 hours. Imagine — fines of up to $1,000 for the good-faith effort of trying to connect people to the government that's supposed to represent them. That will put a damper on your enthusiasm for doing something patriotic.

Already, the League of Women Voters has suspended its registration efforts here. Mission accomplished, if your mission involves a clumsily disguised effort to give Republicans the edge in the 2012 election.

So the governor was sued (again), this time alongside Secretary of State Kurt Browning. Tucked in a motion to dismiss the lawsuit is Scott's contention that he shouldn't be named in it, that he has sovereign immunity because he is the governor.

And, yes, there's good reasons for governors to have immunity. Just as a practical matter, they would be in court all the time. (And this is where I can't resist saying our governor should be used to legal proceedings, in particular taking the Fifth.)

But if you signed this into law believing it to be well-intentioned and completely defensible — and certainly not the most un-American thing to come out of Tallahassee lately — why not just let your name stand?

Scott has lately shown signs of actually caring what Floridians think of him. He has urged supporters to send a pre-written e-mail to newspapers enumerating his virtues. He rejected controversial plans to muck up an unspoiled state park. He's moved toward making it easier to get public records.

If it's determined this law is indeed about voter suppression and not voter fraud, maybe the governor wants his name nowhere near it.

But some Floridians will remember bad law come election time anyway.

Gov. Rick Scott wants his name off bad election law 07/22/11 [Last modified: Friday, July 22, 2011 9:23pm]
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