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Coalition calls for Florida voting changes, federal investigation

by Dara Kam | November 12th, 2012

A coalition of unions, civil rights groups and left-leaning organizations is demanding a rewrite of Florida’s election laws and is seeking a federal inquiry into long lines during early voting and on Election Day.

“Now marks 12 years of Florida being a voting disaster area,” said Judith Browne Dianis, co-director of the Advancement Project that sued the state on behalf of the NAACP after the 2000 presidential debacle. “We will be looking into further investigating what happened in Florida in 2012 just like we did in 2000.”

The Advancement Project, Florida New Majority Education Fund, two Democratic state senators and the union representing state workers said on a conference call with reporters today that long lines voters faced on Election Day and during early voting appeared to disproportionately impact minority voters who typically vote for Democrats.

That proves that lawmakers were seeking to suppress Democratic turnout with HB 1355, a sweeping election bill passed last year that shrank the number of early voting days and affected voters who move from one county to another.

“It’s increasingly coming out that this was not just a case of misadministration or bad management,” said Gihan Perera, executive director of Florida New Majority.

Perera pointed to a Palm Beach Post report that found that the architect of HB 1355, Republican Party of Florida general counsel Emmett “Bucky” Mitchell, was also a senior lawyer at the state Division of Elections in 2000 and was the mastermind of the error-riddled felon voter purge list.

“As more and more of this comes out, it appears a systematic effort to suppress voters. And that is a crime against democracy. There needs to be investigations about what happened and why, whether that be the Department of Justice, congressional hearings or the UN,” he said. “But people who are responsible for making this not a democracy need to be held accountable.”

The coalition is asking lawmakers to repeal HB 1355 and:
- Reinstate the 14-day early voting period and extend the number of voting hours each day to 12;
- Allow more early voting sites based on the number of voters in each county;
- Give county elections supervisors more flexibility with early voting site locations, now restricted to elections offices, public libraries and city halls;
- Permit people voting outside of their precinct to vote a regular ballot on statewide or county-wide races.

But state Sen. Oscar Braynon, a Miami Gardens Democrat who saw long lines in many precincts in his district, said he holds little hope that the Republican-dominated legislature, which passed the elections bill over the objections of Democrats, and Gov. Rick Scott, who signed the bill into law, would make the changes.

Scott also refused to extend early voting hours despite long lines, Braynon said. The Justice Department has oversight of the Voting Rights Act, which includes provisions making it unlawful to discriminate against minorities in elections.

“One of the first steps is to file a complaint with the federal government, whether it be with the Department of Justice on the Voting Rights Act violation. I think the intent was there and I think we may have it rise to the level of a federal investigation as to was this actually intended voter suppression with a full conspiracy and everything,” Braynon said. “As much as I believe that my colleagues in the legislature believe in democracy, I just don’t believe that the governor, as he has proven with his reaction to the long lines and also with the signing of and why 1355 was even created, that they’re going to assist us with this effort.”

Some elections officials blamed the long lines not only the shortened early voting period but on the lengthy ballot which included 11 proposed constitutional amendments placed on the ballot by the GOP-dominated legislature. In Palm Beach County during early voting, the ballots had to be printed individually, add to the logjam.

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33 Responses to “Coalition calls for Florida voting changes, federal investigation”

  1. BaxterBedford Says:

    It would be great if they could un-gerrymander the districts too while they are at it.

  2. Jupiter Guy Says:

    It would help if there were more polling places per precinct on election day, and doubling the amount during early voting would make that aspect a lot easier.

  3. SOFLGirl Says:

    Rick Scott will try to move to the center after the debacle of this election…I have no doubt! The writing is on the wall! The reason he was voted in was because so many people didn’t turn out to vote in the mid-term elections!

    Seriously, I went and voted and did NOT believe he would be voted into office! It was a sad day!

    I have no doubt that in 2014 people will go out and vote….

    Mr. Scott will be a one term gov. and hopefully we can change the Florida legislature as well.

    Here is a list of Republican’s in Florida who helped with the “voter surpression” in our election process this year!

    Mike Bennett- R Bradenton

    ” I don’t have a problem making it harder [ to vote],” he said. ” I want people in Florida to want to vote as bad as that person in Africa who walks 200 miles across the desert. This should NOT be easy.”
    Bennett was elected Manatee County’s Supervisor of Elections on Tuesday!!! Wow, sad…

    Miguel Diaz De La portilla- R Miami

    He carried the proposal to reduce early voting days, citing “fraud” that doesn’t exist. He is currently, under federal investigation! Go figure!

    Eric Eisnaugle R- Orlando

    Claims MASSIVE voter fraud, citing voting registration examples like “dead actor” and “Mickey Mouse.” “False!”

    Dennis Baxley R- Ocala

    He original co-sponsor of HB 1355, the bill that limits early voting, admitted on MSNBC that there was no widespread voter fraud in FL. Instead, he insisted the bill was a “preventative measure” and that its attached crackdown on third party registration “make people more comfortable and secure!” Wow, just wow….Do you think that backfired….YUP!

    Carlos Lopez- Contera R- Miami

    Championed HB 1355, earning a rebuke from Senator Nelson, for amending the bill to make transient voters who failed to update their home address vote “provisionally,” a move Nelson said would have an adverse affect on military families. Bill Passed….we know what a provisional ballot means in Florida!

    Carlos Gimenez Mayor of Miami- R

    Carlos, declined to join neighboring counties & local officials to ask Rick Scott to extend the early voting period! When the Supervisor of Elections opened her office for last-minute- in- person absentee ballot option on Sunday, before Election Day, Gimenez ordered the doors closed with 200 people on line. He only allowed voting to continue after the waiting citizens protested and chanted “let us vote!” as the national media began picking up the story! Great job Mayor….NOT!

    Dan Gaetz- State Senator NW FL.

    “We don’t want to dramatically reduce early voting,” then voted for the reduction of early voting days by nearly half! He forgot what he said?? No, he wanted to reduce early voting!

    Ellyn Bogdanoff Ft. Lauderdale- R

    Had no qualms with expressing herself about early voting. She was on a “warpath” to end early voting acoording to a Dem in Tallahassee…She supported and voted for HB 1355. Defeated for serving a second term in office! Thank goodness!

    RICK SCOTT- Gov of FL- R

    Bills himself as a champion of “fair” elections, but falsely claimed “fraud” when signing reduced early voting hours! I can go on and on about his voter surpression in Florida! This was on his agenda asap when he arrived in office. Everyone saw the hardship for people who were trying and/or ultimately unable to cast ballots. Except for him of course!

    Florida, we are the laughing stock, once again, in the USA.

    Please vote in your mid-term elections! 2014!!

    Bye Mr. West!!!!

    Go Florida!

  4. Florida Legislator Says:

    I would get rid of early voting and absentee ballots. Let’s all vote on Election Day, period! You can’t make it, you don’t vote. What’s so wrong about that?

  5. Florida Legislator Says:

    SOFLGirl,
    Are you going to keep posting the same comment under every article? It’s getting tiring. Don’t you have other interesting things to say?

  6. Russ Says:

    The whole system needs to be revamped. We need better voting methods other than the asinine flash cards we have been using. Fire the supervisor of elections, there hasn’t been a problem free election in many years.

  7. SOFLGirl Says:

    @Florida Legislator

    Plenty, more to come! What Gov. Rick Scott did for the state of Florida during this election cycle is dispicable.

    Imagine, as you suggest, we had the one day to vote…obviously, you do not understand the severity of your statement. It’s crystal clear we would have been on line through Nov 7….8th??

    This has been Rick Scott’s goal since he arrived in office. You will see a change in 2014 in PA, VA, OH and FL.

  8. sam Says:

    Every Floridian, Republican or Democrat should be ashamed that Florida, yet again was the poster child of election problems.

    We must do better.

  9. Sue Says:

    First of all…hey Rick don’t bother to start any re-election procedures because your days as Governor are numbered. This election, not only in Florida but in other States also was a disgrace. Pressure from owners of companies, lies told by both parties, lies told by candidates, the refusal of this low-life Governor of Florida to extend voter days, etc. should make voters revolt and get rid of all these losers now. If you don’t put pressure on these individuals, these actions will continue. It will be my pleasure to work with whoever needs me to get rid of this waste of a life Scott and hopefully this will get the ball rolling to clear up our Country and get us on the right path. Tick tick Scott…

  10. The Texas Way Says:

    Texas holds a Special election Constitutional Amendment every other year in the spring. Florida should do the same. There is never any issues with Texas elections since the amendments are not part of the November ballot.

    Also, the long language is due to the Fl Supreme Court rulings that ballot summaries are misleading. The Legislature responded by placing the entire text of the proposed amendments on the ballot, which makes it worse.

  11. ted Says:

    What a bunch of whining idiots. Why did All you folks wait in line for hours during early voting ? All you had to do was call in for an absentee ballot or go to an elections office, bring it home, take your time filling it out and either mail it in or return it in person. Boom, done maybe took you 1/2 hour to an hour. Quit ya bitchin. You freakin libs are never satisfied.

  12. RPOF = Fascist Says:

    PURGE FLORIDA of the Fascists!

    They tried to PURGE US.

    They tried to STOP US from voting.

    They used RACE as a voter suppression tool.

    They used the CONSTITUTION of the State of Florida as thei voter suppression tool.

    They are STILL trying to suppress the vote (*ahem* Mr. “Florida Legislator”).

    Florida is Ground Zero of the Neo-Fascist right wing.

    And it is RIGHT HERE IN FLORIDA where their dreams of an autocratic fascist state will be shattered and cast on the ash heap of history along with Jim Crow laws, poll taxes, and the 3/5 compromise.

    LONG LIVE DEMOCRACY!

    If we must fight for it…

    THEN WE MUST FIGHT. AND WIN.

    And win we will.

    2014!!!

  13. Jimmy Says:

    We definitely don’t want multiple polling places per precinct. How do the poll workers know whether a person voted in the other polling stations?

    Also, we should keep the provisional ballot for people moving in from out of county. Because, again, how do we know that they didn’t vote in their old county earlier in the day?

    What we DO need is an algorithm that accounts for the number of pages on the ballot, the number of registered voters in the precinct, and the anticipated turnout (base it on historical averages and add an overhead factor) in determining the number of voting booths and scanners.

    For example, if the precinct has 2000 registered voters and the voting day turnout is projected to be 50% and the ballot is 10 pages long and takes an average of 3 minutes per page, then it follows that you need (1000 people * 30 minutes) = 500 hours of voting booths spread over 12 hours in the day. Therefore, you need 42 voting booths. A similar calculation can be used for the scanners, where the same precinct would have 5,000 ballot pages (double-sided) to be scanned. The rate that a scanner can process ballots is not machine-limited, it is human-limited. So if we say that it takes half a minute to scan a double-sided page, then the precinct will need 2.5 minutes per voter, resulting in 2,500 total minutes, or about 40 hours. In a 12-hour polling day, 4 scanners would be needed. This allows for resolving some faulty ballots from voters who, for example, over-vote an office and need to re-do the ballot page.

    Going back to the size of the precinct, we can’t have different physical locations every election because voters would never know where to go on election day, therefore we need to calculate the maximum capacity based on the existing floor area of the polling station and then determine if it can handle a presidential election turnout with multiple pages of ballot. If it can’t, then it needs to be replaced with a bigger location.

    Speaking as a poll worker at the recent election, I can say that things went smoothly at our Palm beach precinct where we had 50% turnout on the day. We had 500 voters on the day with a 6-page ballot. If my math holds above : 500 voters * 18 minutes = 9000 minutes of booths, which tranlates to 150 hours, or roughly 12 booths. We had 10 and were steady all day. Some people just voted for the president and left all the others blank, some didn’t vote for any of the amendments. We also survived with one scanner.

    I know the math isn’t perfect, and I’m sure that others will have more fine-tuned ideas, but I’m sure you get the general idea of my thinking.

  14. Jimmy Says:

    ted:
    What makes you think its only democrats complaining about the long lines? There were almost as many republicans voting, so almost 50% of the complainers are just like you.

    Maybe you are the one who needs to stop whining and find a way to reduce your angst.

  15. Jimmy Says:

    sam:
    Take a look at Arizona. They still have 500,000+ absentee and provisional ballots to count. They are in much worse shape than Florida.

    The only reason Florida got focus is because the race for president was so close in our state. Actually, it was closer here than in any other state. End result is a delayed announcement because absentee, military, and provisional ballots need to be included to make it official. Those take more time to count.

  16. More EArly voting sites Says:

    Voters have the opportunity to get absentee ballots and submit them up to 7pm on the day of election, plus everyone, repeat everyone, has the opportunity to vote early.

    Perhaps, MORE early voting sites are needed instead of the limited number Supervisor Bucher set up.

    More sites, not more days.

    And a very crowded ballot-3 pages front and back slowed the process down too.

    it’s ridiculous to have have weeks of voting, parameters must be set and assurances that only those qualified to vote, vote.

  17. Don't be a hater Says:

    Don’t be a hater. Just look at the rhetoric being spewed by some posters.

    What hate!

  18. Balance needed Says:

    WHAT is the republican party going to do to stop the state of FL from going the way of CA?

    CA is totally dominated by democrats. It IS a one party state. That is not healthy for CA, FL or our nation.

    Don’t let FL become a 1 party state controlled by either republicans OR democrats.

    We need elected officials who will WORK together for the BENEFIT of all of us!

  19. Proud Republican Says:

    I think Gov. Rick Scott is doing a great job. It’s refreshing to see someone who actually cares about trying to make Florida a better place, instead of letting it turn into a welfare state.

  20. JayF8ch48 Says:

    I have three suggestions. First, Eliminate absentee voting period or make the deadline earlier. The absentee votes seem to be a problem every election. Second, use the high schools and the middle schools as polling places. These facilities can accomodate large crowds. There is pleanty of parking. Increase the number of voting machines. Third, vote on Friday, Saturday, and Sundays. This would eliminate long lines by spreading out those who wish to vote. Its embarrassing that it takes 5 days to find out if the state went to Obama or Romney! Races like Murphy and West are also outrageous. Shame of people fo voting for either of these two men!

  21. SOFLGirl Says:

    @Proud Republican

    You (think) Gov. is doing a great job! Can you please share what of his legislative record has helped Floridians?? Also, can you explain your “welfare state” comment??

    The Republicans recieved a SHELLACKING last Tuesday because of your rethoric…do you even know what you mean? Are you just regurgitating the rights blah, blah and blah that you have been accustomed to? You know, people just want “stuff” and Obama will give it to them…Bill O’Rielly! Sad, but true…

    Please share with all of us how Rick Scott is moving Florida forward and upward!

    Please educate me….

    Thanks-

  22. LicenseToSteal Says:

    @SOFLGirl

    Don’t forget Democrats have had their share of SHELLACKING from voters. The most recent was in 2010.

  23. SOFLGirl Says:

    @LicenseToSteal

    Yes, you are correct! Apathy, can really give dire consequences. I can assure voter turn out will happen in 2014 unlike 2010.

    Rick Scott will NOT be elected as Gov. for Florida in 2014.

    Look, if you look at the turnout for Alan West in Port St. Lucie it was a landslide for Romney but a lead/win for Murphy…Congrat’s Patrick Murphy! R”s don’t even want West! It’s insulting to moderate Americans (as myself) Walsh, West, Mourdoch and etc….all voted out! The do not legislate…just spew…no thanks!

    Tea party has been voted out this election cycle and will continue as we move forward.

    Please see FL, VA, OH…2014 there will be big changes!

    Let’s work together!

    Seriously, I was a moderate R but the tea party has moved me left as well as many Americans…just look at the demo’s from this election!

    2010 was an anomaly…

    Rick Scott is a failure for FL!

    Bye Alan West!!!!

  24. teapartymorons Says:

    11 Amendments. Each one with plenty of small print,confusingly worded explanations. THIS was done on purpose by the FLA legislature, which happens to be controlled by the GOP. Gov. Scott, head criminal in charge, gave it his blessing. In fact, he shortened early voting from 14 days to eight. Why should voting be easy, right? Do u really think we live in a democracy Florida voter? Be ashamed, and be angry.

  25. jac Says:

    The Good OLE BOYS. Scott Rubio JBush. They get their votes from the pickup trucks,gun legislation,dumb and dumber. They have themselves lined up for years without you even voting. One retires while the next is put in by the governor. Pretty slick aren’t they Maybe change is coming.Rubio couldn’t even qualify to run for VP because of his personal financial difficutites. Scott gets elected in even though he ran HCA when they were fined for medicare fraud. Jeb Bush started For Profit Charter Schools which pay teachers less in a state where the teachers are paid almost the worst in the nation while giving the Police Unions enormous salaries and entilements for the rest of their lives without any cuts even for the worst economy since the depression just for him to get elected. Bondi and her loss to the Supreme Court with O’Bama Care. Any body with a oz of brain could see this state needs change.

  26. Brian O'Donaghey Says:

    The party-tailored Gerrymandered districts are the biggest problem.

  27. Realist Says:

    If we only let people who actually pay taxes vote we wouldn’t have these problems. The Takers are too stupid to vote let alone work.

  28. SOFLGirl Says:

    @Realist

    Your post is so educational!! Really, I learned a lot….

    hmmm….takers= ?
    hmmm….pay taxes to vote= ??
    hmmm….stupid/vote/work= ???

    Brillant post!

  29. Scott Says:

    What a crock of a story.Typical takers. They win the election through fraud and they still want more.

  30. Jimmy Miller Says:

    I fully agree with the Advancement Project and so do a great majority of the people. We want real answers, real indictments, and real prison sentences for those found guilty of this heinous crime against our people. We have all the evidence we need to make a move on this case, and the Florida government is dragging their feet and attempting to whitewash it. Make no mistake, this issue will not quietly go away, and the people will see to it.

  31. good jerseys no shipping Says:

    There is noticeably a lot to identify about this. I think you made certain nice points in features also.

  32. Dee Wilson Says:

    This sure smells of a conspiracy to me!
    From their own mouths.
    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/11/09/florida-voting-republicans_n_2101802.html

  33. Marathon Running Program Says:

    Nice post. You efforts putting this blog together was worth the while. Congratulations again on a good job Dara.

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