In Florida, the GOP Moves to Disenfranchise Voters

In Florida, the Republican controlled state legislature wants to overhaul election laws in ways critics say would disenfranchise voters and extend the dominance of the GOP in the state.

This latest onslaught to disenfranchise voters comes after Florida Republican Gov. Rick Scott rescinded the rules allowing for automatic restoration of voting rights of tens of thousands of convicted nonviolent felons in the state, a move that critics say smacks of a return to Jim Crow-era laws in the Sunshine State since felons tend to be disproportionately members of minority groups.

Under the new rules established in March, Florida felons will have to wait a minimum of five years after they’ve served their sentences to apply for the right to vote. More serious offenders would have to wait seven years. Florida now joins Kentucky, Virginia and Iowa as the only states that deny felons automatic restoration of their rights to vote in elections after having served their sentences.

But now the state legislature is pushing a bill to cut early voting time by half, to make it harder for grass roots groups to register voters and to require people to vote provisionally if they moved since the last time they voted — a change elections supervisors say would affect the young and the poor the most. Both groups are traditionally Democratic voters. Republicans argue that move is needed to save money.

The story in the Miami Herald:

The 140-page Senate elections amendment was sponsored by Sen. John Thrasher, R-St. Augustine, who chairs the Rules Committee and is the immediate past chairman of the Republican Party of Florida. Sen. Miguel Diaz de la Portilla, R-Miami, defended the bill as voter-friendly, noting that it makes it easier for voters to request absentee ballots. But the proposed changes drew fire from election supervisors as well as the League of Women Voters, which successfully sued the state to block a previous round of restrictions on third-party voter registration efforts.

“We would hope to avoid going back to court,” said Ben Wilcox of the League of Women Voters. “We believe that citizens should be active, engaged, and informed participants in democracy.”

The bill also would push back the primary election by one week to Sept. 4, the day after the three-day Labor Day weekend holiday. Supporters said the change is needed so that the election won’t conflict with the Republican National Convention in Tampa, scheduled the previous week. Moving the primary would allow fundraising to continue during the GOP convention.

The bill would force voters who do not go to the correct precincts to cast provisional ballots — which are only counted in some cases. Since 1973, Florida has allowed voters to update their address at a polling place.

Elections supervisors oppose a provision that allows Secretary of State Kurt Browning, an appointee of Gov. Rick Scott, to issue written orders to supervisors, who are elected constitutional officers.

But what drew the most heat Friday was the Senate’s insistence that early voting be curtailed from two weeks to one. A surge in early voting was widely cited as a major factor in Obama’s 2008 victory in Florida, and then-Gov. Charlie Crist extended early voting hours because of long lines at early voting centers.

“Generally, early voting in Miami-Dade County has not been very efficient,” Diaz de la Portilla said. “What you see more often than not is that there is a trickle of two or three people a day at a very high cost to keep those public libraries and polls open. … We felt it was an efficiency measure.”

Sen. Gwen Margolis, D-Aventura, said the crush of early voters in the last presidential election showed that two weeks of early voting is not enough. She called the bill a “Machiavellian” act by Republicans.

“It will disenfranchise and really anger a lot of people who are standing in line,” Margolis said. “I just think that it’s a very, very bad thing to do.”

 

There's more...

In Florida, the GOP Moves to Disenfranchise Voters

In Florida, the Republican controlled state legislature wants to overhaul election laws in ways critics say would disenfranchise voters and extend the dominance of the GOP in the state.

This latest onslaught to disenfranchise voters comes after Florida Republican Gov. Rick Scott rescinded the rules allowing for automatic restoration of voting rights of tens of thousands of convicted nonviolent felons in the state, a move that critics say smacks of a return to Jim Crow-era laws in the Sunshine State since felons tend to be disproportionately members of minority groups.

Under the new rules established in March, Florida felons will have to wait a minimum of five years after they’ve served their sentences to apply for the right to vote. More serious offenders would have to wait seven years. Florida now joins Kentucky, Virginia and Iowa as the only states that deny felons automatic restoration of their rights to vote in elections after having served their sentences.

But now the state legislature is pushing a bill to cut early voting time by half, to make it harder for grass roots groups to register voters and to require people to vote provisionally if they moved since the last time they voted — a change elections supervisors say would affect the young and the poor the most. Both groups are traditionally Democratic voters. Republicans argue that move is needed to save money.

The story in the Miami Herald:

The 140-page Senate elections amendment was sponsored by Sen. John Thrasher, R-St. Augustine, who chairs the Rules Committee and is the immediate past chairman of the Republican Party of Florida. Sen. Miguel Diaz de la Portilla, R-Miami, defended the bill as voter-friendly, noting that it makes it easier for voters to request absentee ballots. But the proposed changes drew fire from election supervisors as well as the League of Women Voters, which successfully sued the state to block a previous round of restrictions on third-party voter registration efforts.

“We would hope to avoid going back to court,” said Ben Wilcox of the League of Women Voters. “We believe that citizens should be active, engaged, and informed participants in democracy.”

The bill also would push back the primary election by one week to Sept. 4, the day after the three-day Labor Day weekend holiday. Supporters said the change is needed so that the election won’t conflict with the Republican National Convention in Tampa, scheduled the previous week. Moving the primary would allow fundraising to continue during the GOP convention.

The bill would force voters who do not go to the correct precincts to cast provisional ballots — which are only counted in some cases. Since 1973, Florida has allowed voters to update their address at a polling place.

Elections supervisors oppose a provision that allows Secretary of State Kurt Browning, an appointee of Gov. Rick Scott, to issue written orders to supervisors, who are elected constitutional officers.

But what drew the most heat Friday was the Senate’s insistence that early voting be curtailed from two weeks to one. A surge in early voting was widely cited as a major factor in Obama’s 2008 victory in Florida, and then-Gov. Charlie Crist extended early voting hours because of long lines at early voting centers.

“Generally, early voting in Miami-Dade County has not been very efficient,” Diaz de la Portilla said. “What you see more often than not is that there is a trickle of two or three people a day at a very high cost to keep those public libraries and polls open. … We felt it was an efficiency measure.”

Sen. Gwen Margolis, D-Aventura, said the crush of early voters in the last presidential election showed that two weeks of early voting is not enough. She called the bill a “Machiavellian” act by Republicans.

“It will disenfranchise and really anger a lot of people who are standing in line,” Margolis said. “I just think that it’s a very, very bad thing to do.”

 

There's more...

In Florida, the GOP Moves to Disenfranchise Voters

In Florida, the Republican controlled state legislature wants to overhaul election laws in ways critics say would disenfranchise voters and extend the dominance of the GOP in the state.

This latest onslaught to disenfranchise voters comes after Florida Republican Gov. Rick Scott rescinded the rules allowing for automatic restoration of voting rights of tens of thousands of convicted nonviolent felons in the state, a move that critics say smacks of a return to Jim Crow-era laws in the Sunshine State since felons tend to be disproportionately members of minority groups.

Under the new rules established in March, Florida felons will have to wait a minimum of five years after they’ve served their sentences to apply for the right to vote. More serious offenders would have to wait seven years. Florida now joins Kentucky, Virginia and Iowa as the only states that deny felons automatic restoration of their rights to vote in elections after having served their sentences.

But now the state legislature is pushing a bill to cut early voting time by half, to make it harder for grass roots groups to register voters and to require people to vote provisionally if they moved since the last time they voted — a change elections supervisors say would affect the young and the poor the most. Both groups are traditionally Democratic voters. Republicans argue that move is needed to save money.

The story in the Miami Herald:

The 140-page Senate elections amendment was sponsored by Sen. John Thrasher, R-St. Augustine, who chairs the Rules Committee and is the immediate past chairman of the Republican Party of Florida. Sen. Miguel Diaz de la Portilla, R-Miami, defended the bill as voter-friendly, noting that it makes it easier for voters to request absentee ballots. But the proposed changes drew fire from election supervisors as well as the League of Women Voters, which successfully sued the state to block a previous round of restrictions on third-party voter registration efforts.

“We would hope to avoid going back to court,” said Ben Wilcox of the League of Women Voters. “We believe that citizens should be active, engaged, and informed participants in democracy.”

The bill also would push back the primary election by one week to Sept. 4, the day after the three-day Labor Day weekend holiday. Supporters said the change is needed so that the election won’t conflict with the Republican National Convention in Tampa, scheduled the previous week. Moving the primary would allow fundraising to continue during the GOP convention.

The bill would force voters who do not go to the correct precincts to cast provisional ballots — which are only counted in some cases. Since 1973, Florida has allowed voters to update their address at a polling place.

Elections supervisors oppose a provision that allows Secretary of State Kurt Browning, an appointee of Gov. Rick Scott, to issue written orders to supervisors, who are elected constitutional officers.

But what drew the most heat Friday was the Senate’s insistence that early voting be curtailed from two weeks to one. A surge in early voting was widely cited as a major factor in Obama’s 2008 victory in Florida, and then-Gov. Charlie Crist extended early voting hours because of long lines at early voting centers.

“Generally, early voting in Miami-Dade County has not been very efficient,” Diaz de la Portilla said. “What you see more often than not is that there is a trickle of two or three people a day at a very high cost to keep those public libraries and polls open. … We felt it was an efficiency measure.”

Sen. Gwen Margolis, D-Aventura, said the crush of early voters in the last presidential election showed that two weeks of early voting is not enough. She called the bill a “Machiavellian” act by Republicans.

“It will disenfranchise and really anger a lot of people who are standing in line,” Margolis said. “I just think that it’s a very, very bad thing to do.”

 

There's more...

These United States

A wrap-up of news and worthy blog posts around the USA.

Senator Graham Angered Over Budget Cuts Affecting Charleston. Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina has vowed to bring the Senate to a standstill unless Congressional leaders agree to allocate $40,000 for a federal study on deepening the Port of Charleston. The funds were apparently cut in the budget deal averting a government shutdown. More from The Hill.

Tennessee Teacher Tenure Bill Signed into Law. Republican Governor Bill Haslam signed his teacher tenure bill into law Tuesday. The bill makes it harder for new teachers to win and keep tenure protections, lengthening the time it takes a teacher to qualify for tenure from three years to five. The story in the Chattanooga Free Press.

Say It Ain't So Joe. In Arizona, Maricopa County officials charged that the staff of controversial Sheriff Joe Arpaio misspent $99.5 million in restricted jail funds over the last eight years. Budget officials said $84.7 million was misspent from the detention fund, while another $14.8 million in inmate-services funds were misspent. More from the Arizona Republic.

Barry Bonds Guilty of Obstruction. A jury in San Francisco today found former baseball player Barry Bonds guilty of obstruction of justice but deadlocked on three perjury counts. U.S. District Judge Susan Illston declared a mistrial on those counts and gave Federal prosecutors three weeks to decide whether the government would seek another trial. Bonds, the record holder for the most home runs in Major League history, faces up to two years in Federal prison. More from the San Francisco Chronicle.

"Right to Work" Legislation Vote Looms in New Hampshire Senate. A Senate committee yesterday in the Granite State recommended changing the law to prevent unions from charging nonmembers for a share of collective bargaining costs. The House passed right-to-work legislation in February. Gov. John Lynch, a Democrat, has said he would veto it. House lawmakers voted 221-131 for the bill, so supporters would have to pick up votes to overturn a veto. More from the Concord Monitor.

State Budget Talks in Florida Break Down. Budget talks in the Sunshine State between the House and Senate broke down over a series of differences. Both Republican-dominated chambers agree on the need to cut nearly $4 billion in spending without raising taxes. But details are proving elusive, especially the costs of higher-education cuts and new requirements over public-employee pensions. The full story in the Miami Herald.

In Iowa, Terry Bransted Vetoes the Budget. GOP Governor Terry Branstad on Tuesday made good on his promise to veto one-year state budget bills when he rejected a bill approved by Iowa lawmakers that had appropriated nearly $351 million for state transportation programs solely for the coming state budget year that begins July 1. The Des Moines Register provides the full details on the budget impasse in Iowa.

These United States

A wrap-up of news and worthy blog posts around the USA.

Senator Graham Angered Over Budget Cuts Affecting Charleston. Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina has vowed to bring the Senate to a standstill unless Congressional leaders agree to allocate $40,000 for a federal study on deepening the Port of Charleston. The funds were apparently cut in the budget deal averting a government shutdown. More from The Hill.

Tennessee Teacher Tenure Bill Signed into Law. Republican Governor Bill Haslam signed his teacher tenure bill into law Tuesday. The bill makes it harder for new teachers to win and keep tenure protections, lengthening the time it takes a teacher to qualify for tenure from three years to five. The story in the Chattanooga Free Press.

Say It Ain't So Joe. In Arizona, Maricopa County officials charged that the staff of controversial Sheriff Joe Arpaio misspent $99.5 million in restricted jail funds over the last eight years. Budget officials said $84.7 million was misspent from the detention fund, while another $14.8 million in inmate-services funds were misspent. More from the Arizona Republic.

Barry Bonds Guilty of Obstruction. A jury in San Francisco today found former baseball player Barry Bonds guilty of obstruction of justice but deadlocked on three perjury counts. U.S. District Judge Susan Illston declared a mistrial on those counts and gave Federal prosecutors three weeks to decide whether the government would seek another trial. Bonds, the record holder for the most home runs in Major League history, faces up to two years in Federal prison. More from the San Francisco Chronicle.

"Right to Work" Legislation Vote Looms in New Hampshire Senate. A Senate committee yesterday in the Granite State recommended changing the law to prevent unions from charging nonmembers for a share of collective bargaining costs. The House passed right-to-work legislation in February. Gov. John Lynch, a Democrat, has said he would veto it. House lawmakers voted 221-131 for the bill, so supporters would have to pick up votes to overturn a veto. More from the Concord Monitor.

State Budget Talks in Florida Break Down. Budget talks in the Sunshine State between the House and Senate broke down over a series of differences. Both Republican-dominated chambers agree on the need to cut nearly $4 billion in spending without raising taxes. But details are proving elusive, especially the costs of higher-education cuts and new requirements over public-employee pensions. The full story in the Miami Herald.

In Iowa, Terry Bransted Vetoes the Budget. GOP Governor Terry Branstad on Tuesday made good on his promise to veto one-year state budget bills when he rejected a bill approved by Iowa lawmakers that had appropriated nearly $351 million for state transportation programs solely for the coming state budget year that begins July 1. The Des Moines Register provides the full details on the budget impasse in Iowa.

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