New Orleans Yes, it snows in July in Florida. Yes, pigs are on the runway in Miami getting ready to fly, and it is not because of loosening travel restrictions in Cuba, but because finally after more than a dozen years of being the case study for anti-democratic vote suppression and election chaos, even Republican governor Rick Scott has finally decided that Florida should not be the laughing stock of the electoral world.
I’m not saying that they he or the Republican Party in Florida have decided that they should endorse democracy or a citizen’s right to vote. That would be way too radical for them! Being for democracy would include making it easier once again for citizens to register to vote, and that’s way over the line.
But, at least they have decided that some of the more obvious obstacles that they had put in the way of voters like cutting the number of early voting days, taking away the Sunday before Election Day which had been so popular with African-American voters and larding up the ballot should be reformed. Election supervisors had guaranteed that these changes would create long lines and total disruption, and the fact that the whole country waited for days, yes DAYS, after the last Presidential election to finally know whether Obama or Romney won the state (Obama did of course), must have been the last straw.
Well, maybe not the last straw. That straw might have been a report by University of Florida professor of political science, Daniel A. Smith, which was released the same day as Governor Scott’s epiphany. The report established that black and Latino voters were disproportionately affected. Hello, was that not the point?!? Almost half of black voters voted early, no longer trusting the election process, but then caught in the maelstrom of long lines to such a degree that more than a half-million voted absentee, lengthening significantly the waiting time to tally the final results from around the state. According to a story in the Times,
Absentee ballots cast by blacks were twice as likely to be rejected as those by whites. Racial and ethnic minorities also cast a disproportionate number of provisional ballots and saw them rejected at higher rates.
And to think that the Chief Justice of the United States Supreme Court has questioned whether there should still be Department of Justice review of voting matters in southern states?!? The only real question should be whether or not all 50 states should have a departmental and judicial review to ensure access, equity, and fairness.
This is Florida, so this is a baby step. We will have to watch this. Keep remembering how hard it will be for these pigs to fly.