Sunday, November 19, 2017
Politics

Florida legislators aren't fighting fraud, they're perpetrating it

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Turns out, the governor and the state Legislature were correct.

There is a major voter fraud problem in Florida.

And the governor and the state Legislature are the perpetrators.

That seems to be a reasonable interpretation of recent court rulings that say laws passed by our legislators and signed by Rick Scott are pretty darned unconstitutional.

Or as Darden Rice, president of St. Petersburg's League of Women Voters, put it:

"It became pretty clear what they were trying do,'' Rice said. "They wanted to make it as difficult as possible for young people or minorities or people in low-income situations to register to vote. It was a cynical attempt by the party in power to remain in power.

"They demonized something that should be as All-American as apple pie.''

Ain't that a hoot?

It appears as if your flag-waving and Constitution-loving governor and Legislature have done far more to rig election results than anyone with a fake ID or stolen ballot.

Don't believe me?

Consider the numbers:

According to Florida Department of Law Enforcement statistics, actual cases of voter fraud get reported, on average, a little more than once a month. That's in a state of more than 11 million registered voters.

Or, another way to look at it:

You're five times more likely to know someone hit by lightning than someone who has been investigated for voter fraud.

So even if you believe more fraud exists than the numbers suggest, it still seems obvious that cries from Tallahassee of widespread abuse are nothing more than fear mongering.

On the other hand, consider these voter registration numbers in the aftermath of the court decision that says Scott and his cohorts have been behaving unfairly:

The number of new Republicans registering to vote in Florida in the past 13 months is up roughly 25 percent over the same time period prior to the 2004 and 2008 presidential elections, according to a study done by the Florida Times-Union.

The number of new Democrats registering to vote in Florida the past 13 months is down 95 percent over the same time period prior to the '04 and '08 elections.

Got that? One party is up 25 percent, and the other party is down 95 percent. And you don't think those laws that took effect 13 months ago had anything to do with it?

One of the laws specifically targeted groups that encourage voter registration, such as the League of Women Voters or the Boy Scouts. Yes, those subversive commie types.

The law, which a judge ruled last week should be permanently blocked, required these groups to turn in new voter registration forms within 48 hours of receiving them.

Now when you consider a voter registration drive might draw hundreds, or even thousands of applications in a weekend, the process of cataloguing and proofing them can take a little while. Especially for nonprofit and largely volunteer organizations.

Yet the law made these volunteer groups liable for fines of up to $1,000 if they did not submit the forms within 48 hours.

Subsequently, the nonpartisan League of Women Voters, and many other groups, suspended their registration drives 13 months ago.

So why is this a big deal?

Because Republicans, who skew older and whiter, tend to register in traditional fashion with the supervisor of elections. And Democrats, who are younger and more diverse, are more likely to register via third-party groups.

"When you register through a third-party organization, it's more likely going to be in your neighborhood or at your church, and it's going to be at a table staffed by a volunteer you might know,'' Rice said. "A lot of minorities or low-income voters are more comfortable registering in that setting than going into a government office that they might associate with negative or unpleasant experiences.''

Another law passed by the Legislature — which has also been challenged in court — limits the number of early voting days.

And, gee, guess what?

In the 2008 election, only 27 percent of white voters took advantage of early voting days, while 54 percent of African-Americans and 32.5 percent of Hispanics voted early.

So here are your choices.

Either:

A) The Legislature and governor passed two voting laws because they were terribly worried about widespread abuses that law enforcement officials say do not exist.

Or:

B) The Legislature and governor passed two laws that specifically target the voting habits of the type of people who might not be inclined to vote for them.

So I ask you:

What's the greater fraud?

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