Florida Republicans Admit Voter Suppression Was The Goal Of New Laws

Florida Republicans are admitting that the goal of new laws supposedly aimed at “voter fraud” was actually voter suppression. More specifically, the suppression of Democratic votes — especially those by African Americans. Charlie Crist, the former Governor of Florida, is among those stating such.

The Palm Beach Post reports an ex-GOP official saying that any talk of “voter fraud” was simply a “marketing ploy:”

Former Republican Party of Florida Chairman Jim Greer says he attended various meetings, beginning in 2009, at which party staffers and consultants pushed for reductions in early voting days and hours.

“The Republican Party, the strategists, the consultants, they firmly believe that early voting is bad for Republican Party candidates,” Greer told The Post. “It’s done for one reason and one reason only. … ‘We’ve got to cut down on early voting because early voting is not good for us,’ ” Greer said he was told by those staffers and consultants. “They never came in to see me and tell me we had a (voter) fraud issue,” Greer said. “It’s all a marketing ploy.”

Greer, however, is under investigation — and has been indicted — for stealing $200,000 from the party through a false campaign fundraiser. He, in turn, is suing the GOP, saying they knew what was going on and didn’t care.

Basically, Greer’s testimony can be taken in two ways with that in mind; you can say that he’s probably lying to make them look bad, or you can say that he’s coming forward with this now out of a sense of vindictiveness or because he has nothing to lose. Either it’s true or it’s not. Yet there are others saying the same thing, lending his testimony legitimacy:

According to The Palm Beach Post, Wayne Bertsch, who handles local and legislative races for Republicans, said he knew targeting Democrats was the goal.

“In the races I was involved in in 2008, when we started seeing the increase of turnout and the turnout operations that the Democrats were doing in early voting, it certainly sent a chill down our spines. And in 2008, it didn’t have the impact that we were afraid of. It got close, but it wasn’t the impact that they had this election cycle,” Bertsch said, referring to the fact that Democrats picked up seven legislative seats in Florida in 2012 despite the early voting limitations.

Charlie Crist, a Republican Governor of Florida before switching to Independent for a congressional bid, has said that during his tenure he was approached and asked to curb early voting. In fact, Crist says that when he extended early voting hours in 2008, he was told “You just gave the election to Barack Obama.”

Daily Kos reports on Florida’s attempted (and largely successful) voter suppression law created in 2011:

 The law that was passed in 2011 with supermajorities of Republicans in the Florida legislature cut early voting days from 14 to eight, placed restrictions on voter registration efforts that were so onerous the League of Women Voters stopped its efforts in the state and made it more difficult for voters who changed counties between elections to vote, a move that affected minority citizens more than whites.

The Republican administration under Governor Rick Scott has claimed, and continues to claim in spite of widespread suppression accusations and having the law struck down in court, that it is intended to limit voter fraud. Instances of voter fraud are extremely rare though, as reported by Think Progress:

…Crist expanded early voting hours in 2008 despite party pressure, but Gov. Rick Scott (R-FL) targeted early voting almost immediately when he took office in 2011. Scott’s administration claimed the new laws were meant to curb in-person voter fraud, despite the fact that an individual in Florida is more likely to be struck by lightning than commit voter fraud.

If the GOP attack on nonexistent voter fraud truly was a marketing ploy, it was a surprisingly successful one. Laws passed that successfully prevented hundreds of thousands of potential votes, and the right wing is still screaming fraud after the election, despite most instances of voter fraud that have actually been documented having been propagated by the right wing.

Let’s get something straight here. Voter suppression is much more heinous than it seems — it isn’t simply taking away people’s rights, and that would be bad enough. It is the undermining of the democratic machine that Americans pride ourselves on. There is a distinct feeling from conservatives that they believe they are more patriotic than those of us on the left — however, with multiple petitions for many states to secede, as well as those asking the electoral college to refuse to elect Obama despite his winning both the electoral and popular majorities, the question must be asked: has the right wing forgotten what makes America great?

It’s the same thing for those legislators that feel they must push their own agenda at all costs. You get elected based on your platform — and thereby your agenda — over your competitor’s, sure. That, and, of course, how much you spend. Once you are elected, though, your main duties no longer lie in pushing your agenda. It’s about representing your people. Part of being a politician  and/or elected official means that you must recognize that your first duty is to your country and district. If those in your district don’t support you any longer, you must take the moral high road and recognize that it is your time to go. What you should not do is fall prey to delusions of grandeur and get yourself — or those that share your views — reelected at all costs.

Voter suppression is a crime against America. If you support suppression of votes from those that don’t share your views, you are a traitor.

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