Florida House Bill (HB1355) was passed by the Florida legislature and signed into law by Governor Rick Scott in November 2011. The law, among other things, cut the number of early voting days from 14 to eight, and invalidates some absentee ballots. The law was publicly presented as an effort to reduce voter fraud and to save money.
Jim Greer, appointed by former Governor Charlie Crist, served as Florida’s GOP chairman from 2006 – 2010. He was forced to resign and is currently under indictment, accused of stealing $200,000 from the Republican Party through a phony campaign fundraising operation.
Mr. Greer has claimed HB1355 was deliberately designed to suppress voting among groups that tend to support Democratic candidates. He said, “The Republican Party, the strategists, the consultants, they firmly believe that early voting is bad for Republican Party candidates. It’s done for one reason and one reason only … we’ve got to cut down on early voting because early voting is not good for us.”
Jim Greer has suggested there is absolutely nothing state Republicans would not do in following their obsession with retaining power, and the reason given of reducing voter fraud and to save money was simply a marketing ploy.
Former Florida Secretary of State, Kurt Browning (R) has said, “Reducing early voting days does not attack voter fraud and given the longer days, it certainly does not save money.”
Senator John Thrasher, who succeeded Jim Greer as party chairman, called Greer’s suggestion of voter’s suppression and other accusations “absolutely absurd” and Greer is making “baseless accusations on other people in an effort to divert attention from himself.”
Brian Burgess, a Florida GOP spokesman has said, “Jim Greer has been accused of criminal acts against this organization and anything he says has to be considered in that light.”
Jim Greer’s statements about the motivations for the party’s legislative efforts under HB1355 are backed by former Governor Charlie Crist. Crist has said party leaders approached him during his term about changing early voting in an effort to suppress Democratic turnout. By executive order, Crist extended early voting hours in 2008 to address long lines during that presidential election. He has said, “People have fought and died for our right to vote, and unfortunately our legislature and this governor have decided they want to make early voting less available to Floridians rather than more available.”
Before signing HB1355 into law, Governor Rick Scott said he wanted to make voting easier and to eliminate voter fraud. Despite long lines and waits of up to nine hours to vote in the 2012 presidential election, Governor Scott indicated he was “Very comfortable that the right thing happened”; however, under media and political pressure, he has asked Ken Detzner, Secretary of State, to look into the problems and to recommend changes if necessary.
In view of the current problems facing Jim Greer, one might take his statements with a grain of salt; however, there are other politicians, including Republicans, who lend some credence to his allegations of politically motivated law.
What do you think?
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