Rick Scott gets blasted by a federal judge for his obscene undeclared war on Florida voting rights.
Florida’s Gov. Rick Scott is an icon for the Republican Party’s open disregard for the sanctity of the ballot and access to voting. And, based on the officials he has appointed since being swept into office in the 2010 Tea Party wave, Scott has shown little respect for the electoral process of our democracy. His latest, and perhaps most blatant attempt to debase the voting process in Florida, comes from a recent court ruling surrounding an attempt to throw out vote-by-mail ballots.
During the 2012 elections, county officials rejected more than 23,000 vote-by-mail ballots on the basis of trivial technicalities, including claims that signatures were not an exact match. Many elderly voters using mail-in ballots have health issues that could make it difficult to sign the ballots to perfection. And even among younger voters, duplicating signatures to such precise standards looks more like an excuse to throw out legitimate ballots.
The Florida Democratic Party filed a lawsuit in October, to prevent this from happening again this year. But, just weeks before the 2016 elections, Florida Secretary of State Ken Detzner, who was appointed by Gov. Rick Scott, tried to block a ruling to count more mail-in ballots by pushing the hearing date back until after Election Day.
The scheme didn’t work.
As ABC News reported:
U.S. District Judge Mark Walker accused Florida Secretary of State Ken Detzner of delaying a hearing on the lawsuit “so that he could use every second available to run out the clock” so there wouldn’t be enough time to address problems raised in the lawsuit.
The judge also said Detzner’s actions amounted to an ‘undeclared war’ on the right to vote in Florida, the largest swing state in the presidential election.
Judge Walker responded by deciding to cancel the hearing and make his ruling based on the evidence he already had. He decided that rejecting vote-by-mail ballots for subjective and often minor signature discrepancies was unconstitutional, and called the state law that allowed it an “indefensible” attempt to disenfranchise voters.
Judge Walker issued a preliminary injunction in favor of the Florida Democratic Party that will allow the votes in question to be counted.
In his decision, as reported by The Gainesville Sun, Judge Walker said:
During this election cycle, millions of voters across the state will march happily to their mailbox and attempt to exercise their fundamental right to vote by mailing their vote-by-mail ballot. After the election, thousands of those same voters — through no fault of their own and without any notice or opportunity to cure — will learn that their vote was not counted. If disenfranchising thousands of eligible voters does not amount to a severe burden on the right to vote, then this court is at a loss as to what does.
As Slate reports, Judge Walker closed with a stinging rebuke to Scott and his administration:
Once again, at the end of the day, this case is about the precious and fundamental right to vote and to have one’s vote counted. In our democracy, those who vote decide everything; those who count the vote decide nothing. Justice Stewart once quipped, in reference to pornography, “I know it when I see it …” Likewise, this Court knows disenfranchisement when it sees it and it is obscene.
Early voting in Florida starts on October 24, 2016. For information on where and how to vote, visit http://elections.mytimetovote.com/dates/florida.html
For polling locations and other voting information in all 50 states, visit http://www.vote411.org/
*** Maryann Tobin is the author of “Afterlife: The Journey Of A Dog’s Spirit” This heartwarming story is told through the eyes of an animal spirit that has been sent back to earth in the body of a small dog. His mission is to help a young woman discover that their destinies are more connected to the powers of the Spirit World than either of them ever imagined. If you’ve ever shared your life with a dog or any other pet, you will never look at them the same way again after reading this book. Afterlife: The Journey of a Dog’s Spirit is available now on Amazon.com.