1. Florida Politics

Do you vote for a guy who voted to limit voting?

Published Jun. 20, 2012

Besides ensuring fair elections, part of your local elections supervisor's job is to make sure you get to vote. You, me, Republican, Democrat, black, white, rich, poor, man, woman, all of us, so long as we're qualified.

Given the current furor over voter suppression efforts in our state, here's something interesting on the Hillsborough County ballot: A guy who wants the job of overseeing the vote and also supports efforts to keep some people from voting.

State. Rep. Rich Glorioso, a Republican from Plant City and one of three candidates looking to land the $133,622-a-year post, wholeheartedly endorses Florida's controversial attempt to purge voter rolls of non-citizens.

Of course we don't want non-citizens voting. Of course we have to guard the integrity of elections. But mix this with last year's election law changes making it harder for certain people to vote, and it sure looks like cutthroat politics dressed up as sincere effort.

Elections supervisors balked when suspected "non-citizens" on a flawed state list sent in proof of citizenship. (An American veteran who voted for decades even made the list.) And most important: No one has exposed a stealth effort by non-citizens to sneak into the polls. The Justice Department told the state to stop the purge.

Glorioso also supports last year's controversial voting law revamp that does things like reduce early voting days and hinder grass roots voter registration. But in another blow to Gov. Rick Scott's efforts, a federal judge recently tossed part of the law — a deadline of 48 hours instead of the more reasonable 10 days for turning in those voter registration forms, and $1,000 fines for not making it in time.

The judge on the law's potential motive: "If the goal is to discourage voter registration drives and thus make it harder for new voters to register, the 48-hour deadline may succeed."

These maneuvers, born of a Republican governor and Republican-controlled legislature, most affect minorities, the poor, students — groups that tend to vote Democrat.

And with a presidential election looming. Imagine that.

Glorioso defended the voter law even while being mocked on The Colbert Report. Asked about the extremely low instance of voter fraud — often cited with a straight face as the burning need for these changes — he said you don't lock your car after it's broken into.

This week he was firm: He told me dead people, felons and non-citizens don't belong on the rolls. If you're organized enough to run a voter drive, you should be organized enough to make a two-day deadline. And the motive is not voter suppression, it's integrity in elections.

A great thing about America is that you can beg to differ.

Consider the Democrats in the race, one who will face Glorioso after the primary.

Craig Latimer is the current chief of staff in an elections office he helped to regain respectability after Buddy Johnson's wild ride. His was one of the first offices to stop work on the purge list.

And former Hillsborough County Commissioner and City Councilman Tom Scott joined the lawsuit against voter law changes he says are "clearly aimed at targeting primarily minorities."

So there you have it — a race with a real choice about the right to vote — yours, mine, and the other guy's, too.