Opinion: On Election Eve Major Concerns About Disenfranchisement
It’s Election Eve and there are already major concerns about the ability of people to vote.
From Florida and Ohio early vote disasters with long lines to power outages in Connecticut, New Jersey and New York there are doubts that some people will have the opportunity to participate in this election.
Since 2000 major flaws in our system of voting have been exposed.
I was Al Gore’s Communications Director in Florida in 2000 and lived through the recount process in South Florida.
Our voting system became an international embarrassment then and has only gotten worse.
There was a time when we could credibly call out nations with bad voting systems and rigged elections. We were an international model.
But that is no longer the case. We have moved to a political system where blocking access to the ballot is an electoral strategy. In some states, GOP Secretaries of State have turned the job into a hyper-partisan fiefdom dedicated to block voters by limiting early vote, kicking eligible voters off the rolls and creating other barriers to voting that are targeted at young, minority and elderly voters and, especially, the poor and the handicapped.
A few states, notably Oregon and Washington states, have been dedicated to finding better ways to increase voter participation. There vote by mail systems have been incredibly effective in growing voter participation.
Conversely, four years ago Governor Charlie Christ of Florida opened fifteen days of early vote. The reception was wildly enthusiastic. Voters endured long lines at early vote sites to avoid even longer lines on Election Day.
Florida voters spoke with their ballots and made it clear that the state needed move early vote opportunities to afford a greater number of people the opportunity to vote.
But the new Governor of Florida, Rick Scott, is clearly no fan of accommodating voters. He has cut in half the number of early vote dates and limited hours. He also eliminated early vote on the Sunday before Election Day. That Sunday was the largest turn out day for early vote.
President Obama dominated early vote in Florida with his turnout operation. Governor Scott is determined not to see that happen again.
The lack of early vote opportunities will no doubt lead to longer lines in Ohio and Florida and for judges to order counties to extend voting hours on election day.
Republicans can do all they want to make it more difficult for people to vote, which is despicable, but it is also inspiring to watch people endure long lines and demand to vote. After all, the resistance to tyranny is at the heart of America’s birth.
About Bill Buck
Bill Buck is a Democratic strategist, President of the Buck Communications Group, a media relations and new media strategies consulting business based in Washington, DC, and Managing Director of the online ad firm Influence DSP. He has over twenty years of international and national communications experience. The views and opinions expressed in this post are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of CBS Local.