Six years later, Florida is still Florida, only more so. Florida still has a Republican governor, Legislature, and secretary of state, and still doesn't have voter-verified paper trails for its vulnerable voting machines. Hundreds of thousands of voters remain at serious risk of being robbed of the vote.
This year, however, it also has a package of new voting rules, like restrictions on voter registration campaigns. The fines for violations are now so stiff that they forced the League of Women Voters to suspend its voter drives in the state for the first time in nearly 70 years. Each misplaced blank registration form means a potential penalty of $5,000. Just 16 misplaced blank forms, even if destroyed by a hurricane, could cost the Florida League $80,000 -- its entire annual state budget.
Another codicil in the new state voting law essentially endorses the thuggery of 2000. It permits roving bands of political partisans -- the same sort of goons who banged on the glass doors at the Miami election board six years ago to halt the recount -- to descend on inner-city precincts to challenge any voter's right to cast a vote on Election Day. The challenged voter will then be forced to use what reformers call a "placebo ballot" -- a provisional ballot that makes the voter feel like he voted, except the vote will count only if he comes back later to offer written proof that he was entitled to vote. "The use of challenges is likely to disenfranchise a lot of people," observes Lida Rodriquez-Taseff, the chair of the Miami-Dade Election Reform Coalition.
Don't be discouraged. There are some tools I want to call your attention to:
The National Dems have organized a network of trained volunteers and attorneys: http://www.democrats.org/page/contribute/electionhijacking
MoveOn.org has organized a mircrotargeting effort. Republicans have perfected this technique to find and communicate with all their supporters. It uses sophisticated statistics to find supporters wherever they live. Seminole Dems do this as well.
Vote Early! Seminole locations:
- Oviedo Library
- Lake Mary Library
- West (Wekiva) Library
- Central (Cass.) Library
- Elections Office at Airport Road
Republicans use early voting and absentee ballots to "bank" votes before Election Day. By getting the majority of their voters to voter early, they can concentrate their resources on a much smaller percentage on election day. Besides, if you vote early, you can help us on election day.
Demand a paper trail. Write a letter to the editor, and offer to join the organized protests at the voting locations demanding Seminole County have a paper trail for its new electronic voting machines.
We have the energy, the momentum, and most importantly, we are right on the issues. But all is lost if we give ground on more advanced election techniques and simultaneously allow voter suppression tactics to work.