Monday, June 25, 2018
Politics

Stop the presses! Gov. Scott supports fair elections

Another day, another headline about how Gov. Rick Scott is mucking up the great state of Florida. So what'll it be this time?

Maybe he wants to privatize public schools. Maybe he says Obama's health care plan will cost so much we'll all be living in tents under the interstate. Maybe he's refusing federal money intended to help abused puppies.

Wait — what's this?

In a pivot so swift you almost didn't see it, suddenly our governor supports restoring fairness in voting in Florida. And that's a headline you don't see every day.

Two years after signing into law a disingenuous election bill that makes it harder for some people to vote — and half a million bucks into defending that bad law in court — Scott this week came out in favor of making it easier instead of harder to cast a ballot.

For the record, did I mention he's pretty unpopular, up for re-election, and expected to face a bruising Democratic challenge?

The law that is suddenly the scourge of Scott cut early voting from 14 days to eight, a change that tends to affect those who vote Democrat. It also eliminated "Souls to the Polls" Sunday right before the election as an early voting day, a traditional get-out-the-vote effort for black churches.

Sensing a motive in there somewhere?

But this week, with elections supervisors from around the state in Tallahassee advocating that we make voting changes in the name of, oh, I don't know, fairness and democracy, suddenly Scott changed his tune.

Bring back 14 days! Restore Souls to the Polls!

And more: Push for shorter ballots, since proposed constitutional amendments from the Legislature helped give us the longest ballot in our history last time and helped cause long lines and concerns about how Florida votes yet again.

Scott talked up another idea elections supervisors have been advocating: More locations for early voting, like the churches and Moose Lodges that already serve as polling places on election day.

Talk about your costume change.

Scott told black lawmakers this week that the election law wasn't his bill anyway, it was the work of the Legislature, though that was definitely his John Hancock making it official.

And a style note: Scott said all this was "the right thing to do for our citizens" and "everybody" should be part of elections. "Of course I want them all to vote for me," he said, reportedly flashing a grin, but, "I think it's the right thing to do."

Now just hold on a minute!

Charm and seen-the-light conversions are supposed to be Charlie Crist's shtick!

And now the newly Democratic all-but-a-candidate may have lost his cleanest shot at painting the incumbent as a true menace to democracy.

Assuming, of course, that Scott does more than just talk and legislators really do fix bad law — the motive for which never really fooled voters in the first place.

Pre-election primping? Pure political posturing? Headlines in hopes of changing how voters see him? Sure. Or maybe the governor's truly seen the light. Stop laughing.

Either way, if it means restoring integrity that was robbed from our elections through a bad-faith, cynical law, we'll take it — even we don't forget the kind of headlines that got us here in the first place.

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