I’ll admit, I was excited about voting this year. Fr the first time in my life, on a national scale, my vote really could make a difference. Florida is a tossup state, still, as evidenced by the fact that in the past 15 days both major presidential and vice presidential candidates have campaigned here, as well as the Libertarian candidate, and major surrogates.
Surprisingly, though, compared to a lot of people I know, I have been off the radar for the political parties this year. I have received no mailers, no phone calls – except, surprisingly, for two to my cell phone, which has a Washington state area code, asking me to volunteer for the Rob McKenna for Governor campaign.
Now that wouldn’t be a problem regarding the Presidential election. They’ve reached out to me with advertising on television – so much so, and so filled with lies and distortions on both sides, that November 7th can’t get here soon enough.
But downballot measures and positions? Nothing. No info. So as of yesterday, I really was an undecided voter regarding 95% of this ballot. Mostly because I had no idea what was on 95% of this ballot!
I did an hour’s worth of research online, and am glad I did, for I was prepared when I arrived. I had made my decisions.
But at 7:30 a.m., I was in for a surprise. Now I’m experiencing a first – a line to wait to vote.
This wasn’t a particularly long line – maybe 200 people or so. But it moved at a relatively glacial pace. A lot slower than previous years, according to other, more veteran voters in line. But that was oon purpose.
Here in FL, Governor Rick Scott, and the Tea-Party laced legislature put in place a series of reforms. They claimed these were necessary to reduce in person voter fraud and ensure a more informed electorate.
Seriously? A four-page long ballot? Early voting hours cut in half? Fewer polling places? And third party poll observers who didn’t question me, but looked really, really.closely at the black family in front of me?
Well, guess what? People in line saw these tactics for what they really were intended to be: Voter suppression.
If you can make the process of voting onerous, then a certain number of your opponent’s supporters won’t show up. But doing it in a region with a history of suppressing voter turnout in minority communities smack of racism. And when your poll watchers are only closely observing minority voters, to the point of taking pictures of them while voting (a violation of the polling place rules at the time), you have to wonder if this is racism, just wearing a different robe and hood.
Did it work? We’ll know on Wednesday. But it was important I see and experience this in person, so that it informed my choices in the voting booth.
If you feel you need to resort to tricks like this to disenfranchise voters and enhance your chances of winning, then you obviously believe your ideas can’t win on their intellectual merits, and your party doesn’t deserve my vote.