Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Rick’s Gift to Mitt

Think Progress is noting that Florida, ever conscious of its duty as the electoral laughing stock — or fustercluck, depending on your point of view — could hand the election to Mitt Romney. Or at least hand him the state. That may not mean that Mr. Romney would win the election (more on that later), but it could make things really tight.

How? Thievery and chicanery; two things Mr. Scott proved to be very good at in his previous career.

Scott has created a massive list of Floridians to purge from the voting rolls before the election. Late last year, Governor Scott ordered his Secretary of State, Kurt Browning, to “to identify and remove non-U.S. citizens from the voter rolls.” But Browning did not have access to reliable citizenship data. The state attempted to identify non-U.S. citizens by comparing the voting file with data from the state motor vehicle administration, but the motor vehicle data does not contain updated citizenship information. The process, which created a list of 182,000 people, was considered so flawed by Browning that he refused to release the data to county election officials. Browning resigned in February and Scott has pressed forward with the purge, starting with about 2,600 voters.

Many of these voters were sent letters telling them that the state had been informed that they were non-citizens and they had to prove that they were. This came as a surprise to Maureen Russo, who was born in Akron, Ohio, and lives in Fort Lauderdale. She provided the requested proof — a copy of her passport — but has yet to hear anything back from the state.

Surprise, surprise, the list of voters to be purged leans heavily Democratic and Hispanic.

For example, Hispanics comprise 58 percent of the list but just 13 percent of eligible voters. Conversely, “Whites and Republicans are disproportionately the least-likely to face the threat of removal.”

Gee, I wonder how that happened?

What isn’t a big surprise is that this is happening. The Republicans have raised the boogeyman of voter fraud as the most dangerous threat to our democracy since fluoridated water. Time and again they have managed to whoop through bills in states where they have majorities in the legislature to basically make it very hard for people to vote, and in every case they have used the spectre of voter fraud where none exists. Mistakes happen; people move from one county to another and forget to re-register, but so far, the number of people convicted of voter fraud in the United States is about on the same level of those convicted of cattle rustling.

The fact is that the Republicans know that if everyone entitled to vote did vote, either here in Florida or Ohio, they stand to lose; the registration numbers alone outnumber them. So the only way they can assure a win is by gaming the system. Rick Scott may be a lousy governor, but he’s a very good fixer.