I was tuning into KTAR 92.3 yesterday to hear the traffic report and had the misfortune to hear two guys, Mike and Whiney (who were subbing for the normally funny Mack and Gaydos) discussing the attempt to purge voter records in FL. First of all, before I get into the quality of their discussion, its important to note how they advertise themselves.
Taking on all of the issues that matter to you with their unique insight, humor and a fresh new view of the world and the people that make it spin.
From that description-‘a fresh view’ and ‘unique insight’-one could reasonably expect that they would not present something that gets parroted by the majority of local and national news stations, right? From a show that describes themselves thusly, I would expect a greater amount of preparation before the conversation occurred and a grasp of all the differing views that are being thrown out there. Otherwise how do they KNOW they are presenting anything fresh, unique or insightful? Okay, now we can get into what they had to say.
They started the conversation by asking, “what’s so wrong with purging non-citizens off the voter rolls?” And from there they asked questions and made statements that centered on that particular issue. And it is hard, indeed impossible, to answer “no” to that question. Of course, any non-citizen who is registered to vote should not only be purged from the rolls but also arrested and charged with voter fraud. Once they’d established this obvious point they asked, “So why is the DOJ suing the State of Florida for doing something they have an obligation to do?”
The only answer they could come up with was that some of the people on the list were actually citizens and it wasn’t fair to them. And this is correct. It is, however, just a tiny part of the overall reason why the DOJ is suing Florida, which I will address in a moment. At that point, they began instead to defend Florida’s behavior (I should note here that it is not ALL of Florida, it is Gov. Rick Scott who is pushing this, the majority of election officials across the state are refusing to comply with his order because, well, there’s a good chance it’s not legal…again, I’ll get to that point in a moment). Matt and Whiney, who I had at the point decided to call Dumb and Dumber, continued to treat Florida as some monolithic like-minded entity instead of the fractured group of individuals and jurisdictions of which the state is actually comprised.
Nothing else related to the question of why are they being sued actually followed. Sure they proceeded to discuss other issues related to voter fraud such as the requirement to show a driver’s license (which they also reduced to a simplistic and ill-informed conclusion….’I have to show ID all the time. What’s wrong with forcing people to show their Driver’s License’. Well here’s a bunch of reasons why.). But the other related issues such as requirement of an ID had no bearing on what the lawsuit against Florida was really about. At this point I was so irritated that I had to turn the radio off.
Now, let’s deconstruct all of the Facts that Dumb and Dumber missed and why their “fresh” and “insightful” discussion was anything but.
1. Assumption: The monolithic State of Florida is trying to do it’s duty and state and local officials are on board with the purging.
Fact: Many Florida County Election Supervisors are on record (67 to be precise), on TV and in writing, saying they aren’t seeing election fraud of any kind in their individual counties and they refuse to obey Gov. Scott’s order to purge. They are not only trying to remain in compliance with state and federal law but they are also trying to avoid a potentially libelous situation that could cost the taxpayers millions upon millions of dollars in lawsuits and damages.
2. Assumption: The purging event, regardless of list accuracy, was a legitimate activity according to Florida law.
Fact: The State of Florida has a law in place that says you CANNOT purge voter records within 90 days of an election. Early voting for the next election begins in August and they are already within the 90 day window. So the Governor is violating the law. That alone is sufficient for the DOJ to sue the State and have an injunction issued to stop the purge.
3. Assumption: The individuals added to the list were the result of a proper investigation.
Fact: The actual list contains 2,700 SUSPECTED names–not PROVEN. In light of how crucial we consider our voting rights in this country, the list should have been examined by outside agencies, and they usually are just to be sure it is as fair and accurate as possible. In this case it happened very quickly and was not reviewed by anyone outside of who the Governor wanted to review it. The Governor had it drawn up and then he gave the order for the purge to occur. Once people outside of the Governor’s office obtained a copy of the list, it became apparent two things were wrong with it. 1) It had way too many actual citizens on it and 2) the majority of the list were non-white, non-Republican and from the South Florida area. To date 16 people on the list came forward and admitted to not being citizens and they were promptly removed. Ultimately, the known error rate was much higher than it should have been. This is not the partisan viewpoint of a “librul”. This is what Florida election officials, many of whom are Republican, are saying. Ever take Statistics? If you had, you’d know that a high error rate in a list of 2,700 people means that the Governor’s selection process was highly flawed (flawed by prejudice? stupidity? both?)
4. Assumption: There is a ton of voter fraud going on and in order to have fair elections, voter purging must occur.
Fact: A five year investigation conducted during Pres. GWB term in office ended in 2007 and found “virtually no evidence of any organized effort to skew federal elections”. The election officials in Florida are currently reporting they are seeing no fraud going on and they belong, predominately, to the Governor’s own party. The Brennan Center for Justice found that actual incidence of voter fraud was—wait for it—-.0004%
5. Assumption: Mickey Mouse was a registered voter in FL
Fact: Yes, you read that right. They mentioned the infamous case of “Mickey Mouse”–that old Factoid that every conservative commenter, pundit and radio show host in America have relied on to prove voter fraud since time immemorial. Once and for all, for the love of all that is holy…..Mickey Mouse was NEVER registered to vote anywhere in the U.S.. Here’s what REALLY happened. Third party organizations sponsor voter registration drives. They often hire people to help applicants fill the form out and then turn in the registration forms to the Third Party organization. They paid these people for each form submitted (I don’t know how much, a few dollars). This is pretty standard practice because it’s hard to find volunteers for this kind of thing. These organizations are supposed to review the data on the form to ensure it passes some basic tests (real zip code, real looking address, legit area code for that address, etc). This one slipped through the organization’s, whoever it was, process. So someone probably just counted the number of applications and then handed out the money. The Mickey Mouse form got sent to Orange County. Now here’s the part that Dumb and Dumber missed (besides the absolute absurdity of the notion in the first place). Some asshole filling out a registration form falsely does not, in and of itself, constitute voter fraud. He or she would have had to actually get it past Orange County officials. Thankfully, election officials did their job and the system worked exactly as it was supposed to and the Mickey Mouse application was rejected. And finally, if someone wanted to actually get a fake person registered, wouldn’t they have at least made some attempt at putting information that actually looks real? This app could have been a joke or just some jerk who wanted a few extra dollars. But the intent could not have been actually, successfully register such an obviously non-existent person/mouse.
6. Assumption: It is perfectly okay to prevent multiple REAL citizens from voting in order to stop the IMAGINARY hoards of non-citizens engaging in voter fraud.
Fact: The last 100 years of jurisprudence in the U.S. has said that the government must err on the side of caution and voter rights. But even if you don’t look at the law, look at the practical implication of assuming its okay not to let REAL voters vote. That list of 2,700 voters is about 1% of the entire registered population1. If we learned anything from the 2000 presidential election, national elections can come down to a few hundred votes, much less 2,700 votes. So this list MATTERS A GREAT DEAL. It’s NOT okay to cut legitimate citizens just because you or the Governor or paranoid conspiracy theorists have shit their collective pants over a non-existent problem.3
7. Assumption: This attempt by Gov. Scott exists in a vacuum where no previous efforts at modifying and reducing voter fraud have been taken AND if they have been taken, we can assume that those previous actions were legitimate and fair.
Fact: Republican politicians have been trying very hard since the 2000 presidential election to change voting laws. They have actually succeeded passing a bill in April 2011 that reduced a 10 day registration window to 48 hours. So if you filled out a form on Friday at 8 am, you must have filed it with the County you live in before Sunday at 8 am. I’m pretty sure County offices aren’t open on weekends and they sure as hell aren’t open on Sundays. What if you don’t have a car and you have to use the bus system or rely on friends and family to give you a ride? How easy is it to squeeze a trip to the County offices when those are your only transportation options and you now you have to do it within 48 hours. Fair to the poor? Maybe not. The law also removed the right of Florida voters to change their address or name at the polls when they vote, and submit a provisional ballot. Did you notice the “provisional” part of that? It means they don’t count if the info isn’t accurate. Another aspect of this law reduced the amount of time that early voting could occur (from 14 days to 8) AND they got rid of early voting on the Sunday before the election. You would think this is no big deal, right? Well, African Americans are twice as likely to vote early. Moroever the Sunday before Election day, the African American churches have a tradition of doing get out the vote drives. They have been doing this since the Civil Rights era because it was 1) safer to vote en masse in the South if you were black and 2) you most likely would have had to work the rest of the days, Sunday would be your ONLY day off and 3) being reminded in Church, the voter was likely to think, “oh yeah, I forgot” and then head directly to the polls afterwards. It’s only recently white, mostly conservative and evangelical churches have adopted this same strategy. So the stats show, this new law would affect African Americans more than any other group. Fair to African Americans and the poor? The result has been that a) new voter registration is down 20% (affects the young who are more likely to vote Dem) and b) third party registration agencies have left the state entirely because the 48 hour window is too brief and they have given up even trying to operate in FL. The DOJ saw what might be a pattern and said, wait, we need to stop you from implementing that 2011 law and we need to take a look to ensure that the poor, the young, African Americans are not being denied the opportunity to vote. So, you have a history of efforts by the GOP to restrict who can vote and when people can vote and the restrictions they have made, whether on purpose or by accident, appear to disadvantage certain groups of people and those groups of people are more likely to vote Democrat. In these kinds of cases, its about who you end up preventing from voting that can make an election law illegal…not intention. The DOJ is doing exactly what they should be doing.
My take on this….the American public is being informed by Dumb and Dumber. KTAR, can we please get someone on the air that knows WTF they are talking aobut? Please?!
1. There are over 18 million people living in FL with over 13 million of those being eligible to register and about 86% of them actually registered to vote, so 2,700 out of about 11 million voters is about 1%
2. Illegal immigrants absolutely terrified of being discovered and deported out of the U.S. are highly unlikely to attempt to engage in voter fraud. They want to go unnoticed, not make an actual written record of their identity and location with the state government. The stupidity of this argument is astounding.
3. I have no illusions that Gov. Scott is doing this out of fear. He is simply trying to rig the 2012 Presidential election. If I had my way, I’d put him Federal Prison and never let him see the light of day for the rest of his life. You don’t mess with the sanctity of our voting process….you just don’t, I don’t care what party you belong to.