Florida has been the center of many election debacles, but 2012 is proving to be truly ridiculous, even by the Sunshine State’s notorious standards.
As Rachel explained on the show on Friday, Gov. Rick Scott (R) and Republican state lawmakers deliberately “cut the days for early voting almost in half in order to make voting harder.” Whereas his Republican predecessors expanded voting opportunities to accommodate long lines, Scott prefers to do nothing, even as voters have been made to wait in line, in some cases, up to five or six hours. It is, as Rachel put it, “a man-made debacle. It is a debacle by design.”
In a work-around to an early-voting crackdown law, the Miami-Dade elections headquarters will open Sunday afternoon to allow voters to request and cast absentee ballots in person.
The elections department announced the change Sunday morning, after the Florida Democratic Party filed a lawsuit in the wee hours seeking to somehow extend voting before Election Day.
A spokeswoman said the department made the decision Saturday night after seeing such long early voting lines that the last voter wasn’t checked in until 1 a.m. Voters in line at 7 p.m. Saturday were allowed to vote.
And in Orange County – Orlando and its surrounding area – a judge extended early voting hours in response to the Democratic lawsuit. Local reports indicate that Republicans are fighting and appealing the extension, so the Orange County elections supervisor will ask voters to use a provisional ballot. [Update: The Palm Beach elections supervisor announced Sunday morning that the county would also allow in-person absentee voting. So did two counties in the Tampa Bay area, Pinellas and Hillsborough.]
As for why Republicans would go to such lengths to prevent Florida voters from having access to their own democracy, the unfortunate truth is that the GOP has come to believe that the only way to win is to block, suppress, and obstruct voters’ ability to participate.