Florida voter ID ‘mistakes’ may have national implications

OPINION - Maybe Florida Governor Rick Perry should have listened to everyone who warned that voter purging is highly flawed...

Luther Vandross was outed as gay after his death.

Maybe Florida Governor Rick Scott should have listened to everyone who warned that voter purging is highly flawed.  That there was a high likelihood of eligible voters being mistakenly purged from the rolls.  And that the people most often found ineligible were people of color.

Now with the second voter purge in as many years begins, the Republican leadership in Florida is finally admitting that the process, “could have been better…should have been better.”

That’s the understatement of the year. There is an ongoing assault on voting in this country. The Supreme Court gutting the voting rights act allows states like Florida to continue a process which discriminates against black and Hispanic voters.  The Republican administration claims the purge is meant to remove non-citizens from the voter rolls, but the end result is the over-inclusion of people who should be eligible to vote.  After the first purge produced a list of 182,000 potential non-citizens who would then be removed from the rolls, a careful review of the list cut the number down to a mere 200.

Of course the Republican administration reassured everyone saying “I told you so” that this next purge would be different.

Governor Scott is calling this new and improved voter purging system “Project Integrity,” which is ironic given the fact that voter purging is far from an honest attempt to ensure free and fair elections.  The voter suppression tactics of late are partisan attempts to change the outcome of elections and meant to even out the playing field for Republicans who see an electorate of younger and browner voters, voting overwhelmingly Democratic.

It’s why Republicans have said that voter ID laws in swing states would “allow Governor Romney to win the state of Pennsylvania.” Republican officials have passed complicated voter ID laws, cut down on early voting, and purged voters from the rolls.  One of the reasons that Governor Romney didn’t win a battleground state like Pennsylvania is because of the Obama ground game which gave him a huge advantage with early voting.  Republicans admit that they cut back on early voting because it’s bad for Republican candidates.

“The Republican Party, the strategists, the consultants, they firmly believe that early voting is bad for Republican Party candidates,” former Florida GOP Party chairman Greer told the Post. “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.”

All of these attacks on voting are connected with the goal of helping Republicans win elections.  They do not have to do with keeping “integrity” in the voting process to ensure that there is no voter fraud.  Voter fraud is a myth and most allegations of fraud turn out to be baseless.  That fact hasn’t stopped Republicans from using the risk of fraud as the basis for purging voter rolls and imposing confusing voter identifications processes.

“We learned from the mistakes we made,” Florida secretary of state Ken Detzner said of the latest purge. “We won’t make the same mistakes.”

Floridians can only hope.

Follow Zerlina Maxwell on Twitter at @ZerlinaMaxwell.