Florida Gave Out Irma Food Stamps on Election Day, Keeping Poor Voters From Polls

Office of Florida Governor Rick Scott
Here's an extremely easy way to ensure that poor, overwhelmingly Democratic voters don't make it to the polls on Election Day: withhold their food.

For some godforsaken reason, the Florida Department of Children and Families (DCF) yesterday — Election Day — handed out emergency food stamps to poor residents devastated by Hurricane Irma. This was the state's second Disaster Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (D-SNAP) food-stamp handout in Miami-Dade and Broward Counties following Irma, after the first round forced thousands of people to stand in long, sun-baked lines.

Yesterday was hardly better. According to the Miami Herald, more than 11,700 applications had been processed as of Tuesday afternoon, and similar lines formed in Broward. (And today's giveaway was simply for people with last names beginning with the letters A through F.) Reporters who covered the scene at Hard Rock Stadium and the BB&T Center said thousands of people woke up at the crack of dawn and drove to the venues in the hopes of beating the crowds, only to find out that pretty much everyone else had that idea.

The one thing all of those people trapped in food-stamp lines certainly weren't doing was voting. Someone, somewhere, should have bumped the event forward a day.

It's unclear if the U.S. Department of Agriculture, which provides the funds for the program, had any hand in the schedule.
D-SNAP programs are funded through the federal government but administered by states. Florida's Irma relief package, also known as the "Food for Florida" initiative, is run through the DCF, a body overseen by the reactionary Nazgûl known as Gov. Rick Scott.

Scott has a well-documented history of using natural disasters to suppress voting. He infamously refused to extend voter-registration deadlines last year after Hurricane Matthew hit North Florida, forcing the Florida Democratic Party to sue the administration. Scott is also adamantly opposed to giving Florida felons the right to vote — thanks to laws that prevent felons from heading to the polls, nearly one in four black Florida men cannot vote.
Granted, there aren't any statistics that show the exact number of people diverted from voting booths yesterday, nor are there any significantly high-stakes races that a hard-right governor's office would seem to want to skew.

However, there are still races that would certainly have been upended by an injection of 500 or 1,000 extra Democratic-leaning votes. The City of Miami, for example, voted last night on whether to spend $200 million to insulate the city from sea-level rise, a scientific concept that Scott does not believe exists.

Thankfully, the measure passed, but that doesn't mean there's ever an excuse to force Americans to choose between democracy and starvation.