Monday, November 26, 2012

Florida Republicans Admit Voter Suppression Agenda

Florida’s former Republican Party chairman, Jim Greer, claims Republicans have made a systemic effort to suppress the Democratic vote. Greer served as Florida's GOP chairman from 2006 until 2010 when he was forced to resign after allegedly stealing $200,000 from the party. He was arrested and his case is pending trial in February.

In a 630-page deposition, related to his corruption case, recorded over two days in late May, Greer unloaded a litany of charges against the “whack-a-do, right-wing crazies” in his party, including the effort to suppress the black vote.

In the deposition, released to the press last July and reported by the Tampa Bay Times, Greer mentioned a December 2009 meeting with party officials. “I was upset because the political consultants and staff were talking about voter suppression and keeping blacks from voting,” he said.

Repeating his allegations of voter suppression, Greer last week told the Palm Beach Post, “The Republican Party, the strategists, the consultants, they firmly believe that early voting is bad for Republican Party candidates,”  “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.’"

"When those consultants and legislative leaders approached me about putting forth election changes to the law that would benefit the Republican Party, I didn't agree to it," Florida 10-News reported.

But in 2010 with Charlie Crist out and Governor Rick Scott in as Governor, Greer says the voter suppression effort had support at the top.

Florida's HB 1355 bill, which was passed by Florida's Republican dominated legislature and signed by Republican Gov. Rick Scott in November 2011, reduced the number of early voting days from 14 down to eight. Republicans promoted the legislation as a measure to reduce rampant voter fraud, but Greer says the voter fraud argument was simply a "marketing ploy. Despite lines during early voting and lines as long as nine hours on Election Day 2012 in Florida, Scott said he stands by the new law.  "Well I'm very comfortable that the right thing happened," he told WKMG Orlando after the election.

Former Governor Charlie Crist and a GOP consultant have also been quoted as part of a growing chorus accusing Republicans of intentionally trying to keep Democrats from the polls.  Gov. Scott's immediate predecessor, the formerly Republican Charlie Crist,says he frustrated Republican legislative efforts to shorten the state's early voting period while he held the governor's office, citing reasons that mesh with Greer's claims.  In an interview with The Huffington Post, Crist said HB 1355 was clearly aimed at curbing turnout among Democrats.
"The only thing that makes any sense as to why this is happening and being done is voter suppression," he said, "People have fought and died for our right to vote, and unfortunately our legislature and this governor have decided they want to make early voting less available to Floridians rather than more available ... It's hard for me as an American to comprehend why you don't make democracy as easy as possible to exercise for the people of our state. It's frankly unconscionable."
Greer acknowledged that the effort to restrict early voting would directly affect turnout among Florida's African Americans, a demographic that consistently supports Democrats. There is "absolutely nothing" state Republicans wouldn't do in their "absolute obsession with retaining power," he told the Post.

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