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How Hundreds of Thousands of South Floridians Could Be Disenfranchised

by John Noonan  |  November 01, 2012

Florida early voting
Early voting in Florida (Photo by Benjamin Thompson/Flickr)

MIAMI – If you think right-wing opponents of Pres. Barack Obama and other pro-worker candidates didn’t know how popular early voting in Florida would be, then think again. There is a concerted effort to kill early vote turnout.

Just take if from Republican State Senator Michael Bennett, who said, “We all want everybody to vote. But we want an informed voter… Voting is a privilege. How easy should it be?…Why would we make it any easier? I want ’em to fight for it. I want ’em to know what it’s like.”

  1. Cut the early voting period by six days. Especially important to their effort this year was targeting the last Sunday before Election Day when African American churches traditionally hold “Souls to the Polls” voter mobilization services.
  2. Lengthen the ballot so it takes much longer to vote. In counties where early voting is popular and the numbers favor President Obama, they load the ballot – in Miami-Dade it’s 18 pages – so it’s taking folks up to 45 minutes to cast their vote. Voters must fill out every page of the ballot, front and back, or voting machines will not accept it.
  3. Keep the same number of early voting stations and staffers at polls as in 2008 despite increased interest. Turnout for early vote this year is higher than 2008, yet elections officials are not increasing voting machines and staff. (The average daily tally in 2008 in Miami-Dade County was 23,279 voters; on Monday, 25,001 people voted in Miami-Dade County.) There is no possible way for everyone who wants to take advantage of their right to early vote to do so.

South Florida early vote projections after two days of early voting: 

 

2012

2008

 

Projected

Total

Broward

266,784

229,486

Miami-Dade

204,492

302,100

Even with six-hour lines at South Florida early voting locations, election officials simply can’t process as many votes per hour as is necessary to accommodate voter demand.

What’s the best way to defeat these voter suppression schemes? Hang in there and vote anyway!

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