There are dark clouds on the horizon of the battleground state of Florida. New laws and tales of voter suppression efforts already have many voters nervous and confused. Florida, which was recently named "the most hostile state in the nation to new voters" by three national voting-rights groups, has significantly tightened voter identification laws and made it easier for voter's rights to be challenged.
Two news laws passed by the Republican controlled legislature have many Democrats already crying foul. The first is the so-called "No match, no vote" law, which requires a match between a voter's driver's license or Social Security number and a government database- records which many say are full of errors. A second law allows citizens to challenge the legitimacy of fellow voters without proving their accusations. Instead, the challenged voter has two days to "justify his right to cast a ballot."
Add this to a concerted effort to confuse many voters about their registration, as well as spread dangerous misinformation about the new laws, and there is a disaster brewing in Florida.
Much more, including a mailer sent out by McCain to democratic voters, after the jump...
There have been many confusing emails circulating about the new "No Match, No Vote" law, many claiming that if the voter's address does not match the database, then they cannot vote. That, combined with reports that Republicans where getting foreclosure records in some states to challenge the validity of voter addresses, had many voters in a panic. The rumors became so pervasive that the Florida Secretary of State issued a media advisory to clarify exactly what the new law means:
I.D. Required and Checked at the Polls is Used Solely to Confirm the Voter's Identity, Not to Verify the Voter's ID Number or Address. "The photograph on the ID is compared to the person standing before the poll worker and the signature on the ID is compared to the signature on record." [FL Department of State]
The voter confusion campaign seemed to be taken to the next level when many registered democrats began receiving "Party Affiliation Voter Registration Cards" from the Republican National Committee and the McCain Campaign saying they were registered as republicans.
A copy of the mailing obtained by National Public Radio shows that it includes an "official-looking card, listing the recipient's name, address, congressional district, party affiliation and something called a voter ID number. In an attached letter, McCain asks recipients to update the enclosed card -- and to contribute to his campaign." You can view the complete mailings here.
A spokesperson for the RNC and the McCain Campaign said it was a "routine fundraiser" and that it was intended for Republicans. They also said the uproar over the mailing is "part of a national Democratic strategy to undermine confidence in Republicans." Yet the mailing created such concern that the Republican supervisor of elections in Duval County, Jerry Holland, released a statement last week assuring residents that only a voter can change his or her own registration:
Whoever designed the piece obviously created something, knowingly or unknowingly, confusing to some voters, because obviously they were concerned that maybe someone had changed their party.
Once again the Republican Party is trying to steal the vote from Floridians. Confusing laws and misinformation campaigns- many with "McCain Campaign" proudly stamped on them- are once again seeking to disenfranchise voters and deliver the state into Republican hands by deceit and trickery.
These tactics could have an even greater effect on the LGBT community by helping suppress the democratic voter turnout which could lead to the passage of Florida's Amendment 2, the dangerous (and Florida Republican Party funded) "Marriage Protection" Amendment.
I encourage everyone to go online, check your registration, and request an absentee ballot. Make sure your voice is heard. What happens in Florida has consequences for the entire nation- it could decide who will be our next President. We cannot allow another election to be stolen.