District Judge Assails Florida GOP’s “Election-Rigging” War on Voting

*The following is an opinion column by R Muse*

American politics have become so bizarre, so upside-down crazy that it’s a challenge to even feign shock and awe any longer at what’s happening on the right. There is a non-issue Republican standard bearer Donald Trump is screaming about regarding an already rigged election against him although it is still three weeks away. What is particularly odd is that over the past decade, if not longer, there has been a manner of election-rigging going on; but it has been unique to Republican-controlled states in the thrall of the Koch brothers’ legislative arm ALEC.

Over the past few months, several Federal courts have ruled against those stinking Republican ‘election-rigging’ efforts comprised of obscene voter disenfranchisement laws that primarily affect communities of color, the elderly and students because they typically do not support Republicans. On Sunday, U.S. District Judge Mark Walker ruled against what he said were existing rules that are “obscene disenfranchisement” and ordered Florida officials to remedy what he cited was not only a “bizarre” double-standard, but an unconstitutional law.

Judge Walker’s ruling dealt with a practice among Florida canvassing boards that “immediately rejects a ballot if a voter’s signature doesn’t match the one on file.” The ruling ordered Florida officials to immediately provide voters with a method to “fix or affirm their signatures.” The Judge noted the double-standard in the Florida law that allows voters who forget to sign their mail-in ballots ample opportunity to fix the problem, but it does not extend that same opportunity and courtesy to voters with “mismatched” signatures.

The ruling is another Federal Court beat-down of Republican-led states’ attempts to rig elections against Democrats, and they have all ruled that the various and nefarious machinations are unconstitutional and created to disenfranchise voters. Judge Walker followed suit and emphatically ruled the “bizarre” double-standard unconstitutional. In part the Judge said:

It is illogical, irrational, and patently bizarre for the State of Florida to withhold the opportunity to cure from mismatched-signature voters while providing that same opportunity to no-signature voters. And in doing so, the State of Florida has categorically disenfranchised thousands of voters arguably for no reason other than they have poor handwriting or their handwriting has changed over time. In our democracy, those who vote decide everything; those who count the vote decide nothing.”

Then the Judge made a reference to a ruling in a landmark U.S. Supreme Court case about oscenity: “’I know it when I see it.’ Likewise, this Court knows disenfranchisement when it sees it and it is obscene.”

It is noteworthy that it was also Judge Walker who ruled in favor of democracy late last week and ordered Florida to extend its voter-registration deadline due to the devastating events surrounding Hurricane Matthew. The Judge must be losing patience with Florida’s top election official, Secretary of State Ken Detzner, because on Saturday he “rebuked” Detzner in “a separate scathing ruling connected to the same case.

Judge Walker accused Detzner of stonewalling on a hearing on the lawsuit “so that he could use every second available to run out the clock so there wouldn’t be enough time to address problems raised in the lawsuit.” Walker also alleged the Republicans’ actions “amounted to an undeclared war on voting rights in Florida;” the biggest swing state prize in the election.

Republicans have been on a tear to rig elections in their favor for years, but particularly since 2008 saw an explosion of voting from people of color. The only reason the conservatives on the Supreme Court got an opportunity to gut the Voting Rights Act was because Republican states passed voter obstruction and suppression laws specifically targeting people and communities of color. Since the High Court disemboweled the VRA, Republican states have been frantically disenfranchising voters to rig elections against Democrats; something Judge Walker rightly labeled “obscene” and an “undeclared war on the right to vote” in predominately Republican states.

There will be no rigged elections against Donald Trump, no matter how often and loudly he claims otherwise. However, Republicans have attempted every hateful means possible to disenfranchise a specific demographic that typically votes for a specific political party. It is election rigging and like everything untoward in American politics, it is Republicans in service to the Koch brothers and American Legislative Exchange Council who are guilty.

image: Kelly Caminero/DailyBeast

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