After the 2010 elections, Florida Gov. Rick Scott (R) and his Republican allies in the state legislature took a series of steps to restricting voting access in advance of 2012. The results were ugly – including voters waiting in lines up to eight hours long.
Asked to defend the voter-suppression efforts, GOP officials in the state generally argue that the measures were necessary to combat imaginary voter fraud. Democrats have long assumed that the real reason was to block Democrats from voting, and there’s new reason to believe those assumptions are correct.
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.”
As we talked about in July, it’s not unreasonable to question Greer’s veracity. The man is facing felony corruption charges and very likely carries a grudge against his former colleagues – the state GOP quickly kicked him to the curb when his legal troubles began.
But Greer isn’t the only one addressing Florida Republicans’ motivations. Former Gov. Charlie Crist, a Republican turned Independent, has also said GOP officials only implemented voting restrictions to tilt the playing field in Republicans’ favor.
Two veteran GOP campaign consultants also told the Palm Beach Post that Florida Republicans saw Democratic turnout in 2008 as a problem that needed fixing, and embraced voter-suppression tactics as a partisan solution.
A Republican consultant who asked to remain anonymous specifically said, “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.”
We now know that these efforts were largely a failure. President Obama won Florida for a second time; Sen. Bill Nelson (D) was re-elected; and the Florida GOP generally had a pretty bad day on Election Day. But that’s not the point – rather, what matters here is that we have a series of Republican insiders who are admitting, out loud and on the record, that GOP officials took specific, deliberate steps to disenfranchise African-American voters.