Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Florida Republicans working hard to suppress minority voter registrations

As predicted, the new Florida procedures of checking applications for voters registration against the Social Security database and the driver's license database have caused large numbers of registration applications to fail to be acted on. That's not rejected, just not acted on. The Florida News-Press presents the story:
County election officials say the number of voters lost through Florida's central registration system is small — 90 percent of applications get voter cards.

The result is applications from more than 43,000 Floridians hoping to become eligible voters over the past 21 months were rejected by state computer programs and kicked out for special review.

More than 14,000 initially rejected — three-quarters of them minorities — didn't make it through that last set of hoops.

Blacks were 6 1/2 times more likely than whites to be rejected at that step.

Hispanics were more than 7 times more likely to be failed.

Unaccepted but also not denied, they remain in limbo as "incomplete" or, often, sitting in Florida's new statewide voter registration system with no designation at all.

State law requires those "lost" voters to be notified; most contacted said they were unaware of the problem.

[Underlining mine - Editor, WTF-o]
Of course those "lost" voters aren't contacted. The Republicans will suppress 13 1/2 minority voters for every White voter they lose if they simply don't bother to find out what the problems are. That's a big edge for Republicans in a state where elections tend to be quite close. The current "problems" are intentional.
The issues began with the 2005 Florida Legislature, when lawmakers pushed through election law changes meant to bring the state into compliance with new federal laws that were a result — in part — of Florida's notorious electoral past.

Along with federal mandates to create a single statewide voter database and to check those names against drivers license and Social Security numbers, Florida added a requirement: Applicants who didn't pass the database test would not be registered to vote.

The provision was approved by the U.S. Justice Department in 2005, but further tinkering gave "lost" voters just two days after an election to prove the computers were wrong.
That has raised new civil rights concerns and the Justice Department has asked Florida to prove its system is not discriminatory against minority voters.

[Underlining mine - Editor, WTF-o]
Because of the way computers match names, the system was expected to reject larger number of Hispanic and Black registration requests. That's exactly what happened. Most of the problem is built into the sytem.
The Florida match requires names, birthdates and drivers license or Social Security numbers all agree on the application and with information in computer databases. Applications that don't match are reviewed by the Department of State, fixed by hand if the problem is obvious, and forwarded to the county for its own determination of whether to fix the application or leave it in limbo.

By law, applicants must be told if their registrations are incomplete. Voting rights advocates complain those notices, when they are sent, often fail to explain the problem.

State records show more than 76,000 of the 830,157 applications received between January 2006 and September 2007 did not result in a new voter card.
And of course, the Republicans who are responsible for voter registration and for the suppression of minority votes (remember Katherine Harris and Choicepoint?) are delighted to fail to act on those registration requests which are in limbo.

[Editor's note: As an election worker myself I frequently hear from people who are not registered but who claim they registered when applying for a Texas driver's license under the Motor Voter Law. It is a frequent occurrence. I can't prove it, but I suspect that there are people who work in the Texas Department of Motor Vehicles in our Republican Party-dominated state who throw away applications that are made under the Motor Voter law.]

Republicans can't get elected if everyone who wants to vote for Democrats is allowed to vote. That's what this Voter Suppression activity is all about. Without voter suppression activities in Florida in 2000 Al Gore would have been elected President. Without voter suppression activities in Ohio in 2004, John Kerry would have been elected President.

The Republicans are working hard to steal Florida again in 2008.

The Florida law in question was passed with the advice of Hans Von Spakovsky who was Counsel to the Assistant Attorney General for Civil Rights in the U.S. Department of Justice. (See also his wikipedia entry, Hans Von Spakofsky.) TPM Muckraker has a further story on Von Spakovsky's history of working for voter suppression while working in Alberto Gonzales' Department of Justice.

Bush has nominated Von Spakovsky to be on the Federal Election Commission. His nomination is being held up in the Senate - for good reason.

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