Sunshine in the sunshine state:
Election experts and Democratic voting advocates told U.S. senators Friday that a Republican-backed overhaul of Florida election laws will suppress Democratic turnout in the nation’s biggest battleground state next fall.
Democratic Sens. Bill Nelson of Florida and Dick Durbin of Illinois held a field hearing at the Hillsborough County Courthouse that drew a racially diverse crowd that at times resembled an orchestrated Democratic rally. In packed pews in a sixth-floor courtroom, people wore yellow stickers that read “Our voice, our vote” and hissed a witness who defended the law.
Testimony centered on the most controversial changes: reducing early voting from 14 days to eight, from 96 hours to a minimum of 48, and ending it on the Saturday before the election; requiring third-party groups to register and face fines if they turn in voter registration forms after 48 hours; and requiring voters to cast provisional ballots if they moved from another county since they last voted if they did not update their addresses.
Nearly 200 people attended the hearing and about 200 more watched on TV from a nearby room. The crowd erupted into loud applause when Durbin said: “There are people literally fighting and dying for the right to vote in countries like Syria, and we are finding ways to restrict the right to vote?”
As the two-hour forum ended, Nelson said: “The rule of law has been assaulted in this state by this election law under the pretense of cutting down on election fraud.”
I think these field hearings are a great idea. Part of the problem with conservatives changing voting requirements every twenty minutes is that voters don’t know that the rules have changed or what, exactly, the ever-changing rules now require. The more attention voter suppression laws get, the better. Targeted groups have to know they’re targeted before they can act to protect their right to vote.
University of Florida political science professor Daniel A. Smith will testify Friday before several U.S. senators about Florida’s new voting law.
Smith was invited to the hearing by U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Ill., chairman of the Senate Judiciary subcommittee on the Constitution, Civil Rights and Human Rights.
The hearing, to be held in Tampa, will examine a Florida law that limits the time available for early voting, makes it more difficult for volunteer organizations to register voters and changes the cause for voters to cast provisional ballots.
Smith was selected by U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson’s office to “speak from an academic viewpoint, not an activist’s,” Smith said. Smith was chosen as a witness because of his work on Florida election law and voting behavior.
Smith’s testimony will look at three features of the new law and how they potentially limit voting rights of Floridians.
“The first is early voting. The new Florida law truncates the early voting period from a 14-day window to an eight-day window, and most importantly, it eliminates the final Sunday before Election Day,” Smith said.
Early voting is popular with voters, yet Republicans are working hard all over the country to limit early voting. The crazed conservative assault on early voting makes even less sense than their other nonsensical, wholly imaginary claims re: voting, because there’s absolutely no difference between an early vote and an election day vote in terms of security or potential fraud. They don’t even have a remotely plausible storyline on Fox News on why we must limit early voting. They have nothing. People like early voting because it’s convenient. Conservatives oppose early voting because… well, we don’t know why conservatives oppose early voting.
Smith and Michael Herron, a professor of government at Dartmouth College, matched the voter file from the 2008 general election with the early voting file from that election, identifying trends such as which ethnic, racial, gender, or age groups were more likely to vote early in 2008, and how the new law likely will affect them.
Smith said they found African-American, Hispanic, youth, and first-time voters were much more likely to vote on the Sunday before the election.
Oh. That explains it.
Maybe at the next hearing we can discuss this:
Not mentioned at the hearing was that Florida has made it easier for voters to cast absentee ballots by mail as an alternative to early voting or visiting the polls on Election Day. But UF’s Smith said the highest likelihood of fraud involves absentee ballots.
If there’s a conservative lawyer out there who can defend the fact that conservatives push absentee balloting, the least secure voting method, while aggressively acting to limit early voting, I’d sure like to hear what they have to say. That doesn’t make any sense, unless they’re targeting voters who disfavor conservatives.
In addition to the Smith and Herron data you mention, I’d guess that a higher proportion of absentee ballots come from active military, snowbirds, folks on vacation and others who skew Republican, while early voting is more appealing to people who work long hours at more than one job, are in danger of getting docked hourly pay if they leave work to vote, etc. — in other words, more Democrats.
Things will be much easier under a Romney Presidency, where undesireables and their party can be executed for traitorous thoughts. Then, in 2016, progressive utopia!
The Moar You Know
Young people, hourly wage people, like early voting as it’s hard to get election day off. They don’t vote absentee as they move too often.
Old people, who own houses and are tied to one location, and who just happen to vote overwhelmingly conservative, vote absentee.
No shock the GOP pushes the hell out of absentee balloting while doing everything they can to restrict early voting.
The military votes absentee for a large part, yes? Not so much with military early voting.
Why cavorted absentee voting? BECAUSE it’s easier to tamper with. I’m sorry to demonize my ideological opponents, but being alert for the last few elections will do that to a person.
With vote by mail the entire State of Oregon essentially votes absentee. We don’t seem to have much of a problem with fraud. The fact that Republicans seem to like absentee balloting does not excuse their efforts to restrict voting, but also does not mean that absentee or vote by mail is bad.
I would assume that early voting would, depending on the process, make it easier to detect security problems or fraud before election day. No?
@The Moar You Know: Yep.
Plus, low turnout favors Republicans generally. So anything you can do to limit the number of people voting is a worthwhile goal.
This is the conventional wisdom among Democrats here, that absentees favor the GOP.
Ohio muddles the whole thing further, by referring to early votes as “in person absentee” :)
@kay: What?! That’s some fucked-up language right there, sister.
Paul in KY
Easier to control the little woman’s vote when you have her get an absentee ballot & give it to you to complete.
Makes sense to me. I think it’s a good issue for Democrats to push because it’s popular. People like to have a series of days where they can vote. It’s convenient. I vote early.
First, they came for the early voters.
I think shortstop tagged it.
Absentee ballot? You think military.
FWIW, you also need to plan ahead more for an absentee ballot (request it, have it arrive, fill it out and return it on time). In many states, you have to attest why you’re voting absentee and meet their criteria.
Early voting might give an edge to the casual voter, as well as the young, overscheduled, and those working long hours.
California changed the absentee rules to allow automatic balloting by mail. We’ve gone from 2.63% in 1962 to 59.59% mail-in ballots in 2010.
The prime argument against that I’ve heard, is that early voters are depriving themselves of any late-breaking news/issues that might affect the vote in certain races. IMHO what it really does is water down the effectiveness of last minute shenanigans, like autodialing with false information (not that anybody does such things).
Also, too, Benen has staged a palace coup at Maddow’s blog on his first day, completely taking over the joint.
If they can just get all those Confederate states that are getting population increases (and hence more congressional seats) as a result of minority and youth population increases to limit those minorities and youth from voting, the GOP will be doing good.
Hell, we could maybe even get them to limit the number of new seats by counting minorities as only 3/5 of a person…
Early voting is primarily campaign workers, pollers who tend to be busy on the Day. The only clear thing about Republican opposition, is that the numbers, they predict. are to their own advantage…Voter Suppression.
Early voting favors on the ground organizers. They “bank” the vote. That way they can check off your vote and not have to call you on election day, which is hectic and frantic. Early voting favors the organized campaign.
Obama’s 08 campaign was very, very good at this. It’s the one and only reason conservatives are limiting early voting.
Belafon (formerly anonevent)
I’ll state something I mentioned from an earlier thread: The proportion of Representatives should be based on the number of people who vote in the state. States that attempt to block people from voting will have a lower representation than those that don’t.
Au contraire. Oregon votes overwhelmingly Democrat, which is de facto evidence of fraud.
I think some investigation will reveal that there are only twenty-six people registered D in Oregon and they all vote 37,000 times each.
Someone get O’Keefe on a plane ASAP to suss out what’s happening over there.
Well, that and the demographics of early voters.
We’ve done a lot of GOTV work. I have never seen any campaign come remotely near the level of Obama’s 2008 organization. We knew exactly who to hit in Indy, and when we were wrong it was because of discrepancies in the voter rolls, not because the campaign wasn’t totally on top of who’d been contacted and who hadn’t.
I love “Saul Alinsky is my co pilot”, BTW, wherever that came from.
I’m reading his book! What a coincidence!
B.S. anecdotes about absentee voter fraud are no better than “Black Panther Intimidation!”. Come to the party with some facts please.
@Dave: I is vanquished.
NC does this too. I find out when I looked up my voting record and thought, “wait a minute, I’ve never voted absentee in my life…I’ve voted EARLY….”
The FL GOP has also made it practically impossible for volunteers or civic organizations to register people to vote in Florida. They know the Obama organization in 2008 helped swing Florida to the blue, and they don’t want a repeat of that performance.
I could see an argument for reducing early voting as a cost saving measure. I can’t remember seeing it made, however.
This is great, from the hearing:
Makes sense. I’m insufficiently educated to know whether California allows any form of voting early, in person. I’m not aware of it anyway. That the majority of voting is now by mail has certainly changed the mode of standard campaigning.
Frankly, I’m relieved to not have a repeat of the Whitman-Fiorina money bombing we endured for a year ahead of the ’10 election. The Republicans can’t even decide who’s going to lose against Feinstein this go. I suspect the big money will pour into fighting the forthcoming seven- or eight-hundred ballot propositions and initiatives.
Early voting and vote by mail completely eviscerate the Republican bag of tricks to discourage voters. There are no long lines, no phony flyers, no poll challengers to discourage people, no last minute changes in polling place. No voter intimidation of any kind.
Mail ballots eliminate errors with hanging chads or votes that are electronically flipped, undervotes and overvotes.
Early votes eliminate last-minute polling problems with weather, long lines, and whatnot.
Another thing I really like about early voting is being able to tell every political office that calls in the days before an election, “I’ve already voted.” That way they can save their breath and thank you or curse you as they see fit. It’s a real time saver.
@Paul in KY:
Yep. Or you can have a Voting Party in your church basement.
@Belafon (formerly anonevent):
I like this idea, so long as it’s based on percentage and not raw numbers. Low turnout in a high population state could still be higher than high turnout in, say, Wyoming.
I also like the idea of assigning primaries in order of the states with the highest percentage of participation the last time around. If your state has the highest voting percentage participation, you get to go first.
I like GOTV, because it’s fast-paced and not unlike delivering mail. Sadly, because this is a conservative county, and we don’t have lefty lawyers, I have to do “voter protection” which involves 12 hours of waiting for something horrible to happen. I’ll be ready to file if anything does happen, though. I’ve been ready for 6 years.
I remember learning in 2008 that early voting is unChristian and unAmerican. I can’t wait to see what it’ll be this time around!
Paul in KY
@Judas Escargot: That too. Both of those methods are illegal (IMO), but you know that never stopped the GOP ‘Getting Ours Party’.
@Judas Escargot: It doesn’t seem to happen in Oregon, or happen in the other vote-by-mail states. One reason is that it would be pretty hard not to get the word out that something is wrong with a batch of ballots submitted from the same address that is exactly alike in all detail. And let’s not forget that since you can vote anytime, one can hide your ballot or fill one out to show and then submit another ballot filled out at another time as your real ballot. And I’ve noticed that people are very jealous about their vote and won’t let anyone tell them how to fill it out.
Culture of Truth
Speaking of Obama ’08…
Asked to name the best-run national campaigns he’d seen or been a part of, Gingrich first named President Barack Obama’s primary campaign in 2008. He added Richard Nixon’s in 1972, with the exception of the Watergate scandal, Ronald Reagan’s in 1984 and George H.W. Bush’s in 1988.
@trollhattan: No last-minute shenanigans? Maybe not where you live, but here in Maryland it’s alive and well.
@jibeaux: There’s also other pleasures: When I voted for Obama on Columbus Day in 2008 , I was able to take advantage of a quiet Board of Elections. There was no line (maybe some people thought it was closed). I was able to look over my ballot carefully and fill it out just as carefully. No tension, no nervousness-I was happy not to worry about the outcome for a couple of weeks. And the weather was pleasant-cool, sunny, dry. And I too could tell folks that I already voted, and once the word was out, no more calls.
@Paul in KY: Try typing “Voter Fraud in Oregon” in to google and see how many stories come up about the kind of fraud you are imagining.
Sorry to be OT, but I’m frankly shocked at the “Premium Blog Ad” I’m getting in the upper left corner of every BJ page.
This ad is for “Mutually Beneficial Arrangements” and has a photo of a completely naked woman bent over, touching her ankles, face lifted and smiling at the camera while her bare ass is stuck out next to a vintage sports car. The text repeats the title, assures that it’s “for real” and has links to click on “College Girls” and “Single Moms.”
2) Isn’t this NSFW? it’s sure as hell NSFVWKA (Not Safe For Viewing With Kids Around)!
3) “Mutually Beneficial”—oh, yeah, I’ll bet.
Geez, I thought the vegetable-fellating PETA ad was gross. This one is really beyond the pale. Yeah, I know, I can block the ads, but surely I should only have to block them because they’re annoying, not because they’re this offensive. YMMV.
Paul in KY
@j low: I’m not ‘imagining’ anything. Are you telling me that no wingnut ever had his wife get an absentee ballot & either filled it in for her or directed her (i.e. watched her complete it) to vote for certain candidates?
Why do you think the GOP loves them?
I just heard that the opinion affirming the conviction of the Palin email hacker came out.
Kinda funny, seeing references to “trolling” and 4chan in a Court of Appeals opinion.
Davis X. Machina
These things can be turned around. One of the first acts of Maine’s new teabaggy Gov. 37% LePage was to do away with same-day registration, and restrict the number of early-voting days. The bill was killed by the people’s veto — overturned in a referendum — a referendum that reached its signature target in record time.
And the GOP-majority legislature just tabled another part of the ALEC legislation wish-list, a photo-ID bill.
@Elliecat: I’m glad I’m not the only one getting that. I was really wondering who the hell does Google think I am?
Host has little control over ad content. I often see Righty blogs with ads which run counter to the trope of the host.
Paul in KY
@Elliecat: I think the car is a vintage Shelby Cobra GT.
I think I know what model woman it is, but I’ll keep that to myself, as I’m thinking about the children ;-)
@Paul in KY: I’m saying that there is evidence about the effectiveness of vote by mail and ACTUAL rates of voter fraud in States like Oregon where ALL voting is vote by mail (absentee if you like) and then there is what you are thinking might happen. What you are thinking might happen is same kind of voter fraud that Republicans talk about when they pass laws that disenfranchise voters. i.e. imaginary vote fraud.
@kay: They best not fuck with you. But when they do, I’d pay to see the response.
You can’t imagine how much fun GOTV was the three days before the ’08 election. People were either totally pumped to vote for Obama (majority) or they knew damn well he was going to win and couldn’t do anything about it (pissy but entertaining minority). In one neighborhood, several elderly ladies rushed out on their porches and embraced me when they saw my Obama t-shirt and clipboard. Everyone kept offering us food from their Sunday backyard barbecues. We heard so many stories of people going to vote as extended families, planning election night parties, even waiting to vote until after-school hours so they could take their kids along to witness the historic event.
We were deeply honored to get to play a small part in turning Indiana blue for the first time since 1964, incidentally the year the third baseman was born.
I’m sad that Indiana’s not considered in play this year, but we’ll probably go to Iowa or perhaps Wisconsin. They don’t need us here in Illinois except in the downticket races. :) Of course, we’ll work for those, too, earlier in the campaign season.
I thought the same thing. I really don’t like those kinds of ads.
Damn it!! All I am getting is a refrigerator.
I know they think I’m a 64 year old man. That seems a tad old to be targeted for an ad with college girls, and if not, then yuck.
Belafon (formerly anonevent)
@Violet: The idea is to take the total number of votes cast in each of the Federal elections from the previous decade – ie, when the vote for president or Congresspeople occurs – for each state. Divide each state by the total to get their percentage. Then proportion House Reps, allowing for a minimum of one. This would be adjusted every 10 years.
@Benjamin Franklin: Sure, I get the righty ads all the time. I’m used to that. But it seems to me there’s a big difference between ads for rightwingers and/or their offensive political books and a pron-y ad with a completely naked woman actually assuming the position for some guy’s quick and commercial sex business. Do the ad providers seriously just have them all in the same pool?
Paul in KY
@j low: It is generally imaginary when they talk about us doing it, not when they do it. The actual numbers are probably very small, but those are people who are being disenfranchised & they would probably be voting for our candidates (as the wingnut hubby knows very well).
THANKS for the update Kay
Why doesn’t the US have a Federal holiday on the day of the elections? Also a small fine for not voting could be imposed.
Both these measures would I think increase the percentage of people who vote.
@Paul in KY:
Yup, great car! I wonder if it’s real or a replica?
Same here. I just cleared my browser cache a couple of days ago so was wondering what the hell I might have googled since then. Nothing comes to mind that would cause me to deserve that ad. If I’m going to get punished, I’d at least like to commit the crime first.
Doesn’t Australia do something like this? Totally unworkable here because it would violate our Freedom(tm) to not decide to decide; also, too, it would get too many of “those people” to the polls.
I hadn’t even noticed the porn-ad until you all pointed it out and I went to see what I was getting. Color me oblivious.
And since I’m a middlle-aged woman, somebody’s got their targeting very wrong.
@trollhattan: I think it does. How about just a Federal holiday then, on the election day.
@schrodinger’s cat: Or we could have elections on Sundays like most of Europe. Of course, that will get some Baptist somewhere into a tizzy.
Paul in KY
@trollhattan: I think it is a replica. I had to stare at the ad for awhile (heh), but I noticed there was a modern headrest on the driver’s side seat. A vintage one has the old-timey seats (IMO).
@Paul in KY: I suppose it would be useless to point out once again that vote by mail works VERY well in Oregon. Oregon was barely beat out by Washington in 2010 for the highest voter turnout in the nation, and had the third highest voter turnout in 2008. Republicans in Oregon made the same arguments you are making about coerced voting before we adopted this law and they have been proven wrong year after year. But, these are just facts and apparently there is no longer any place for facts in US politics.
@CarolDuhart2: Actually in Florida you can get long lines with early voting — it’s happened to me — but to me that just demonstrates how popular early voting is, and suggests that we need far more places open for early voting.
@Gretchen: Have some Madiera, m’dear?
absentee voting can be parsed through to find a rationale for not counting the vote. this is where the goper election judges outperform the democrats’ election judges.
pseudonymous in nc
That’s a fair point, but vote-by-mail is definitely the most manipulable, whether it’s a GOP Master of the House sitting his wimminfolk at the table to fill out their ballots, or a landlord voting on behalf of his tenants — all examples cited from postal vote fraud cases elsewhere.
From what I’ve heard about the Oregon system, there are pretty robust oversight mechanisms to address those things, but there’s no guarantee that such mechanisms would apply elsewhere.
I’m getting the lady in a bodysuit for Mutually Beneficial Arrangements and, just below, ad for Twilight: Breaking Dawn DVD out soon.
Google: make up your mind.
Am I an old geezer who might be able to get it up for the car, or a swooning teenage girl with a vampire fix?
Paul in KY
@j low: Why do you think they made those arguments? It’s because they know it’s done (by them).
It’s just like the husband who secretly murdered his wife & is acting all aggrieved & yet he can’t be bothered to search for her. Why is that?
Also, Oregon and Oregon residents are clearly a more advanced type of American & would never stoop to the types of chicanery employed in those benighted hovels East of the Mississippi. So y’all have that going for you :-)
Anything to surpress the vote from people who mainly tilt Democratic is their aim. They don’t give a shit about consistency.
I think you have your answer here for why it isn’t done. There is one political party that really, really doesn’t want everyone voting, and they’re going to do everything in their power to block any measure that’s designed to ensure that everyone does.
Ivan Ivanovich Renko
Don’t look at me– since I recently bought a (used) Ford, I’m getting Ford ads.
I can probably better afford one of those than a nearly-naked young college girl, anyway. (Not that I’d have any interest in such anyway, but perhaps she could introduce me to her mother…)
They just don’t want Democrats voting early. It’s harder to disenfranchise someone voting early by telling them they’re at the wrong precinct or making them wait forever as you try to find their name and all that. Because early voting locations serve EVERYONE, regardless of precinct. No wild goose chases. Also, here in Nashville we have early voting on Saturdays and after work hours. Much easier for working people.
When I was an organizer in 2004 we kept hearing how Republicans kicked our asses in early voting, and we needed to get more Dems to vote early. That was one of our big goals, because they said whichever party wins the early voting turnout wins the election. So that’s what we focused on and damn if we didn’t do it. Of course we didn’t win statewide but we won our precincts.
Um nope. The ballot is contained in two envelopes, the outside one is one signed by the voter and it is separated as verified, another unmarked eveloped holds the ballot which is opened on election day. There is no connection between the address and the ballot. Once the verification envelope is opened the privacy envelope/ballot is kept in a completely separate secure location untouched until election day.
@Quarks: The long lines I’m thinking of are the ones in 2004 when judges on election day had to issue an injunction to let the polls stay open after closing time. A lot of people probably had to leave after a certain point because they had to go to work. Republicans love those lines because a person who leaves will be one less vote.
Early voting long lines just mean that some folks have to come back another day-and more places to vote need to be opened up to do that.
I think some of these larger states ought to go to vote to mail like California and Oregon have, and shorten the lines that way.
Something the GOPers/ACORNers make sure to never ever mention is that once you take a registration card it must be turned in, you do not get to disqualify “Superman” or anyone else. There has been prosecution of registration misconduct, oddly enough it was a GOPer outfit who trashed Democratic registrations and got caught.
Something to consider in relation to the Congressional cowards and thieves who went after ACORN.
Because they can reject them in larger numbers, duh.
The prophet Nostradumbass
@trollhattan: California does have early voting. this is a description of how it works in Santa Clara county.
This article about fewer people in So. FL getting drivers licenses goes hand in hand with the GOP voter suppression efforts. Turns out that young and poor people are not getting licenses bc they’re not driving. No photo ID = no voting for you.
In FL, we have voter ID laws, reduced early voting, and criminal threats against people who register voters. All these restrictions work together to limit Dem voters.
How long have you been doing this, that you still expect anything resembling logical or coherent arguments form Conservatives?
They’re against it because THEY’RE AGAINST IT!! AND YOU DON’T NEED ANY EXPLANATIONS, YOU LIBERAL WIMPY COMMIE PINKO.
Now get out of the way and let a REAL man vote. You make me sick.