By state Sen. Mike Bennett's muddled reasoning, voting should be an onerous burden designed to discourage all but those with the means and time to travel far to exercise their constitutional rights. The next time voters see his name on a ballot, they should consider the Bradenton Republican's low opinion of the importance of making sure everyone has an opportunity to participate in the electoral process.
In making an indefensible argument supporting the Florida Legislature's effort to suppress voting by reducing early voting, hampering provisional voting and hamstringing third-party voter registration groups, Bennett contended voting has become too easy. "I want them to fight for it," the senator said. "I want them to have to walk across town to vote."
Exactly whom does he mean by "them"? Poor people who rely on public transportation? Working people who don't have time to drive across town to cast ballots? Minority residents who should not have to leave their neighborhoods to find a voting booth?
Bennett's arrogance serves as a depressing metaphor for a Legislature that made it harder for average Floridians to get a quality public education, afford property insurance, pay for college and protect their communities from overdevelopment. In that warped world, making it harder to vote sounds like a logical step.
In the real world, it's absurd and offensive. Bennett has announced his intention to run for U.S. Rep. Kathy Castor's congressional seat in 2012. Voters will have to decide if they would walk across the street to vote for a politician who would prefer they have to walk across town to participate in democracy.