early voting

  • November 2, 2012

    by Jeremy Leaming

    Right up to the final hours of the 2012 general elections some state officials in an array of states will undoubtedly continue their tiresome efforts to discourage and turn away from the polls potential voters.

    Just today, as reported by The Miami Herald, Fla. Gov. Rick Scott (R), is rebuffing requests from the League of Women Voters of Florida and other civil liberties groups to extend early voting hours there, citing the long lines at early voting sites. The newspaper notes that since the start of early voting in Broward County alone has “averaged more than 28,400 voters a day. Miami-Dade averaged more than 26, 300.”

    The League of Women Voters of Florida, among others, asked Scott (pictured) to extend early voting to include Sunday, Nov. 4. But “top Republican officials,” told the newspaper that no extension is needed. Gov. Scott enacted a voting overhaul law in 2011 greatly reducing the number of early voting days, including the Sunday before Election Day. That law also included measures limiting voter registration drives and an onerous Voter ID law. Groups, such as the League of Women Voters, the Brennan Center, NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, Inc. (LDF) and the ACLU have had success through litigation in blunting or blocking some of the law’s measures.

    Deirdre Macnab, president of the League of Women Voters of Florida, told the Orlando Sentinel that the long waits “are discouraging to voters whose schedules and or physical conditions cannot accommodate these types of delays.”

    Rightwing groups and pundits have advocated for such limitations on voting, claiming that voter fraud mars the nation’s elections. As pointed on out on this blog numerous times and by many others, see Jane Mayer’s recent New Yorker piece, in-person voter fraud is essentially myth. A recent “state-by-state map” by Nick McClellan, for Slate, reveals that there is very little evidence of voter fraud.

  • September 5, 2012

    by Jeremy Leaming

    In a burst of action, federal courts have provided setbacks to the right’s desperate and disgraceful efforts to suppress the vote, as noted here last week. Hardly surprising is that some of the rightwing lawmakers pushing ridiculous voter ID laws, limits on early voting periods and voter registration drives, are going to fight the federal courts to protect their ignoble campaign.

    Ohio Secretary of State Jon Husted, a loud proponent of Ohio’s efforts to limit early voting opportunities of urban voters, has proclaimed that voting in his state will be “uniform and accessible for hard-working Ohioans.” It’s a statement as laughable as it is disingenuous. Ohio, like Florida, Texas, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin, has sought to make voting much more difficult for a lot of hard-working residents, primarily those living in urban areas. In Ohio no efforts were made to curtail early-voting for suburban residents.

    So when a federal judge recently ruled in favor of the Obama campaign’s legal challenge to Ohio’s restrictions, issuing an injunction against limits on early voting, it was widely received as a much-needed victory against the ongoing campaign to suppress the votes of minorities, low-income people, college students and the elderly.

    U.S. District Court Judge Peter Economus held that curtailment of early voting opportunities would close the door to thousands of voters. He added, “Plaintiffs submit statistical studies to support their assertion that low-income and minority voters are disproportionately affected by the elimination of those voting days.” See Ryan J. Reilly’s reporting for TPM on the decision.

    Reilly today noted that the Obama administration has lodged a motion with the federal court urging it to ensure that Ohio follow the court order, after Husted said he “wouldn’t set early voting hours until an appeals court” took action. As Reilly reported, the Obama campaign officials argued in their motion that Husted cannot ignore or stay a federal court opinion, a federal appeals court gets to make that call. 

    University of Maryland law school professor Sherrilyn A. Ifill in a piece for The Root blasted the Republican Party’s “war on voting,” likening it to the efforts employed by pre-civil rights-era Southern states “to manipulate the voting strength of the electorate.”