Al Sharpton rips Rep. Baxley over Florida election lawby Dara Kam | December 7th, 2011
Al Sharpton took state Rep. Dennis Baxley to task over Florida’s new election law on Sharpton’s Politics Nation show on MSNBC tonight.
The sharp-tongued Sharpton, a Democrat, lambasted Baxley, the former head of the state’s Christian Coalition, over changes to the election laws, similar to changes GOP-dominated legislatures approved in more than a dozen states this year. Critics, including Sharpton, say the new laws make it more difficult for minorities and college students – who helped President Obama move into the White House three years ago – to cast their votes. At the urging of U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson and some of fellow Democrats, a Congressional hearing in Florida on the election law is in the works.
Baxley and others contend the new laws are aimed at preventing voter fraud. But Sharpton challenged Baxley over the fraud issue, saying Florida had only 31 cases of election fraud since the 2008 election.
“You didn’t have laws after hanging chads and other means disrupted this country in 2000…Is it really because young people and minorities started voting and registering in big numbers and this is the new way that you’re going to try and restrict people’s voting rights?” an incensed Sharpton demanded.
“I don’t see why you have to impugn other people’s motives. You may not like some of the content…but I think it makes…people more secure,” a relaxed Baxley, R-Ocala, said. (Baxley later corrected Sharpton – Florida lawmakers enacted a slew of new voting laws in the aftermath of the protracted 2000 election.)
“If it wasn’t broke why are you fixing it other than this is some political game?” Sharpton persisted.
Baxley said the new laws will protect elections from “from mishap and mischief” and pointed out that “Mickey Mouse” had registered to vote in Florida.
That only provoked Sharpton.
“If you’ve got to get Mickey Mouse to make your case…then believe me you’re trying to take all of us to Disney World for a ride,” he said.
Watch the the two tangle over the League of Women Voters, which stopped registering voters in Florida because of the new law, before the clip ends. Sharpton interviewed Florida LOWV president Deidre MacNab before Baxley came on.
The most controversial portions of Florida’s elections law are now under review by a three-judge panel in Washington, D.C. The League and other groups are asking that the court reject the changes.