Feds Are Watching Florida Polls For Voting Problems Next Week
Voters waited for hours for a chance to cast a ballot in 2012 at this Little Havana polling station.
Photo by Michael E. Miller
Let's be honest: Florida is to fair and well-run polling as Kanye West is to humble and modest self-image. We're just not very good at it. You don't even have to go back to the Dubya-crowning recount debacle for evidence of Sunshine State voting ineptitude. Just transport yourself back to 2012, when Gov. Rick Scott led a vigorous campaign to disenfranchise minority voters and some Miami residents had to wait seven or eight hours to cast a ballot.
Lines probably won't be quite so long next week, since it's a mid-term election, but just the same the Department of Justice announced this morning that it will be closely watching the polls for any funny business.
"Every citizen must be able to vote without interference or discrimination and to have that vote counted without it being stolen because of fraud," U.S. Attorney Wifredo Ferrer said in a release. "The Department of Justice will act promptly and aggressively to protect the integrity of the election process."
To that end, the feds have set up a fraud hotline: (305) 961-9001. Complaints will be handled by a local prosecutor, Kimberly Selmore, whose been deputized to look into any problems.
There's already been less interference from Tallahassee this year than there was during the '12 presidential race. That's when Scott tried to orchestrate a massive "voter purge" of supposedly illegal voters -- an effort that actually led to hundreds of mostly Hispanic, perfectly legal voters having to fight for their right to cast a ballot, including one Miami guy who'd won a Bronze Star in World War II. Scott was later whacked by a federal court, which ruled he'd broken election laws with the move.
That's not even to mention his mildly less illegal moves, like tightly restricting early voting on Sundays -- the same day that black churches traditionally mobilized for "Souls to the Polls" rallies.
Miami's also had a colorful recent history of absentee ballot fraud -- by both Democrats and Republicans -- and borderline flyers, like one circulating this week and threatening to shame anyone who doesn't go vote.