Maryann Tobin

A cloud from the smoking gun of voter suppression is surrounding Republicans, particularly Florida Gov. Rick Scott.

Scott has been exposed by whistle-blowers as the catalyst in a systematic voter suppression scheme by Florida Republicans in the 2012 elections.

The voter suppression efforts, largely implemented by Gov. Rick Scott, consisted of a three-prong strategy that included new laws that cut early voting hours, required voter ID cards, and attempted purging of voter rolls in the days and months leading up to the 2012 elections. The reason, according to former Florida GOP chair Jim Greer, and former governor Charlie Crist, was voter suppression, particularly against blacks and Hispanics.

Florida’s efforts to stop minorities from voting began in 2009, after Barack Obama was elected president and Crist was governor.

The Palm Beach Post reported, “Crist said party leaders approached him during his 2007-2011 gubernatorial term about changing early voting, in an effort to suppress Democrat turnout.”

Minority voter suppression methods were the topic of numerous meetings Greer attended as the state GOP chair. “The Republican Party, the strategists, the consultants, they firmly believe that early voting is bad for Republican Party candidates,” Greer said. “It’s done for one reason and one reason only… to cut down on early voting because early voting is not good for us.”

Claims of voter fraud were a “marketing ploy” to promote voter ID laws intended to further suppress Democratic-leaning minority voters, according to conversations Greer said he had with Florida GOP leaders.

But Scott was not alone in attempting to use voter suppression to change the outcome of the 2012 elections. Similar tactics were implemented in other Republican-controlled states. Pennsylvania, Ohio and Texas all hoped to curb democratic voter turnout with voter suppression efforts, some of which were so openly discriminatory, they were struck down in court.

Democrats fired back against Republican voter suppression efforts, particularly voter ID laws, which were backed by enough spin to gain support among the conservative electorate, despite a lack of evidence to support claims of widespread in-person voter fraud.

Both Greer and Crist were rejected by the Republican Party following their refusal to go along with voter suppression efforts. Crist left the Republican Party is considering running for office again as a Democrat. Greer is tangled up in legal issues with the GOP surrounding campaign fundraising money.

The New York Times writes, “The cry of 'voter fraud' was used to justify a range of sins against democracy, from cutting back on early voting and registration drives to unnecessary.” Adding that they were “only intended to solve the Republican party’s larger problem of widespread rejection by minority groups.”

Scott is not currently under investigation by the Justice Department for his role in 2012 voter suppression, but the possibility has not been ruled out.

Scott is no stranger to allegations of fraud and illegal activity. In the 1990s, Rick Scott was involved in the biggest Medicare fraud case in U.S. history.


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