Leaks are a part of the GOP’s slow implosion. So it’s not a surprise that current and former Republicans are admitting the real purpose of the voter ID and early voting laws.
The Florida law that cut early voting was an intentional tactic to hand Florida to the GOP by inhibiting Democratic turnout, former GOP officials and “current GOP consultants” told the Palm Beach Post.
Former GOP Florida Chairman called the voter ID laws a “marketing ploy” and Crist said he was approached about changing the laws regarding early voting. Two veteran GOP campaign consultants echoed Crist and Greer’s claims.
Crist told the Post he was approached during his term as Governor by Republicans, who wanted him to change the early voting laws. Crist felt the requests may have been targeting black voters and a GOP consultant admits that black voters were a “concern”:
…(I)n a telephone interview this month that he (Crist) did not recall conversations about early voting specifically targeting black voters “but it looked to me like that was what was being suggested. And I didn’t want them to go there at all.”
But a GOP consultant who asked to remain anonymous out of fear of retribution said black voters were a concern.
“I know that the cutting out of the Sunday before Election Day was one of their targets only because that’s a big day when the black churches organize themselves,” he said.
The issue of whether or not this law deliberately took aim at minorities is a big deal because Florida is one of nine states subject to the Voting Rights Act. Five counties in the state must get federal clearance for changes to voting laws that could impact minorities.
Former Republican Party of Florida Chairman Jim Greer told the Post that the GOP began to push for a cut in early voting in 2009 because early voting “is not good for us.” Describing behind-the-scenes meetings at which these issues were allegedly addressed, he said, “They never came in to see me and tell me we had a (voter) fraud issue. It’s all a marketing ploy.”
Greer’s take on the laws is that Republicans targeted minorities not as racists but because they didn’t think they could ever get African Americans to vote for them. (Note: It is irrelevant in the eyes of the law why they targeted minorities voting rights.)
Greer, who is under indictment for stealing from the party and who is also suing the Florida Republican Party, added, “There is absolutely nothing with their absolute obsession with retaining power that they wouldn’t do — changing the election laws to reduce early voting, to keep organizations like the League of Women Voters from registering people, going after the Supreme Court justices.”
Florida Republican campaign consultant Wayne Bertsch described the “chill” that went down their spine in 2008 at the Democratic turnout machine and says he knew the purpose of the laws was to target Democrats. An unnamed (at his request) GOP consultant also told the Post that the goal of the laws was to beat back Democratic turnout.
Brian Burgess, a GOP spokesman, denied all of the above, including that any meetings had taken place about early voting laws and Voter ID laws, and lambasted the character of Crist and Greer. But in addition to Crist, Greer, Bertsch and the unnamed consultant, the Post also noted that Florida GOP General Counsel Emmett Mitchell IV’s deposition with the Justice Department regarding the early voting law mentions a specific meeting taking place in addition to conversations with Republicans. Mitchell is the author of the early voting law.
Greer is under indictment, accused of stealing money from the Republican Party. He is also suing the Party claiming that they knew what he was doing and they owe him money. (Sounds like the GOP in Wisconsin.)
Between 2008-2011, according to the Florida Department of State via Think Progress, there were just 31 instances of alleged voter fraud in Florida, only two of which resulted in arrest.
On August 16, 2012, federal judges ruled that Florida’s early voting law could not be implemented in several counties in Florida, which are covered by Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act, because it discriminated against blacks. But on September 13, the Department of Justice approved the early voting schedule for the five counties, provided the counties provide 96 hours of voting between the hours of 7 a.m. and 7 p.m.
Surely you are saying to yourself that you already knew this. However, what you know and what you can prove are two different things. It is one thing to say that their reasons for these laws do not make sense and thus appear to be aimed at reducing turnout for Democrats. It is quite another to have statements suggesting that Florida Republicans may have conspired to suppress the minority vote. The former head of the state party and a former Governor, in addition to others, are saying what everyone already knew. This is not a good thing for Florida Republicans.
Ms. Jones is the editor-in-chief of PoliticusUSA.
Sarah hosts Politicus News and co-hosts Politicus Radio. Her analysis has been featured on several national radio, television news programs and talk shows, and print outlets including Stateside with David Shuster, as well as The Washington Post, The Atlantic Wire, CNN, MSNBC, The Week, The Hollywood Reporter, and more.
Sarah has won two Telly Awards and is a member of the Society of Professional Journalists.