Ex-Florida GOP chair, along with former Florida Governor Charlie Crist, accused GOP of using Florida voting laws to suppress Democratic voters. Democrats have called for a hearing on Florida's voting laws.
Twenty-one days ago, we had the 2012 United States Elections. Barack Obama, the Democratic incumbent, won re-election as the United States President as he beat out GOP nominee former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney. That was one major victory for Democrats. Democrats achieved victory by maintaining control of the United States Senate. As the elections have passed, there are still issues at hand. One issue at hand is early voting in Florida.
On November 4, Charlie Crist had given his criticism to Florida GOP Governor Rick Scott. The criticism comes from Scott's refusal to extend the hours of early voting in the state of Florida. Crist said that it only makes sense to do so if you're trying to suppress voters. However, Scott denied the accusations. Ken Detzner, the Florida Secretary of State, said that the current situation doesn't warrant longer early voting hours. In response, Crist disagreed.
Florida tourism map.
Instead of extending hours of early voting, Scott reduced the numbers. Scott signed HB 1355 which reduced the early voting period for voters in Florida. Instead of 14 days of early voting, there would only be 8 days. Also, there would be no early voting on the Sunday before Election Day.
Crist is the previous governor of Florida. When Jeb Bush, the brother of former US President George W. Bush and son of former US President George H.W. Bush, left the office as state governor, Crist was voted in. Crist attempted a run for the US Senate in 2010; but, he lost the GOP primary to Tea Party-backed Marco Rubio. Crist ran as an independent and lost the election. Currently, Crist identifies himself as an Independent. He did give his support to President Obama.
Crist said that back in 2008, when he was governor, he signed an executive order that increased the number of early-voting hours.
So far, Crist isn't the only one speaking against Scott's refusal to extend early voting hours. Jim Greer, the former head of the Florida GOP, echoed Crist's accusations. Greer resigned from his position after being charged of allegedly stealing party funds. Currently, Greer's case is pending at the moment. Greer's accusations echo that of Crist's. Like Crist, Greer said that HB 1355 which shortens the early voting period was aimed to suppress key voting blocks that supported Democrats let alone US President Obama.
Greer said that early voting wasn't good for the GOP. Furthermore, Greer said that HB 1355 would restrict black voters in Florida which usually votes Democrat. He also said that racism in the Republican Party is real and that many have the consistent thought that minorities will never vote for a Republican candidate.
With that, it leads to one of the factors that the GOP has to deal with: reaching out to non-white voters. In a Politico article, it talked about how the media was saying the Republican will have to deal with non-white voters. Former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee, who ran for US President in 2008, said that the Republicans failed to reach out to those voters.
In a Politico blog reported that Florida Senator Marco Rubio saying that the GOP must focus on both minority and immigrant communities.
A New York Times article, dated November 7, talked about Virginia. The main focus was on Prince William county. In the past, it was rural and mostly white. Now, minorities make up for over half the population of the county. Thus, there has been a change in demographics. This is advantageous to the Democrats and disadvantageous to the Republicans.
After losing to Obama, Romney was on a call to his campaign donors. He said one of his reasons for losing is that Obama gave “gifts” to key voting blocks.
When combining those factors together, it shows that the GOP requires serious work in reaching out to those voting blocks. Allegations made by Greer in regards to voter suppression can be stacked onto challenges the Republicans have to deal with.
Greer, in a recent interview with the Palm Beach Post, talked about attending meetings back in the start of 2009. Both staffers and consultants were supporting the idea of reducing the days and hours of early voting.
However, Republicans have responded to Greer's allegations. One talked about how one has to remember that Greer is accused of criminal acts against the party. Keep in mind, Crist is echoing the same thing as Greer.
In the Palm Beach Post article, other Republican figures have stepped forward. One person is Wayne Bertsch, who handles the local and legislative races for the party. Bertsch said that the increase in turnout back in 2008 was concerning to him. In regards to the reduction of early voting hours, Bertsch gave a similar statement. He said that the main goal was to go after Democrats.
Another veteran Republican consultant, who is anonymous, stepped forward. According to this consultant, the state's GOP had to goal to repel Democratic turnout in early voting.
In response, Florida Democrats are calling upon the US Commission on Civil Rights to hold a hearing on Florida's election laws. The six Democrats calling for the hearing are: Alcee Hastings of Miramar, Corrine Brown of Jacksonville, Kathy Castor or Tampa, Ted Deutch of Boca Raton, Frederica Wilson of Miami Gardens, and Debbie Schultz of Weston.
This could be used as potential political ammo against the Republicans. While 2012 has passed, we have the upcoming 2014 elections where there will be US Senate and US House seats up for grabs.