Here are some thoughts I penned with my colleague, Leo Villalon, two years ago regarding the launch two years ago of our US State Department exchange with voting and elections experts in six West African countries.
But the Florida Secretary of State has claimed that 9 out of the 107 individuals purged from the voter rolls for allegedly being “potential noncitizens” are from Pinellas, Peter’s beloved county on the sandy shores of the Gulf of Mexico.
Funny thing is, though, of the 37 “potential noncitizens” the Division of Elections flagged from Pinellas in its systematic effort in April to cleanse the voter list, only one was removed by the Pinellas Supervisor of Elections, Deborah Clark, after she reviewed the state’s shoddy work. The other 36 individuals wrongly fingered by Secretary of State Ken Detzner in his unwarranted purge are indeed citizens and are eligible to vote.
Oh, and as if this comes as a shock: 59.5% of those wrongly accused by the Secretary of State who are living in Pinellas County are minorities. And only 1/5 were Republicans.
(You can ask Peter what percentage of registered voters in Pinellas are minorities and Republicans).
But cut the Secretary of State and his crack staff some flack.
His list of 37 “potential noncitizens” residing in Pinellas County was accurate 2.7% of the time. (Actually, the Division of Elections ill-advised and likely illegal purge has the fingermarks of an individual who evidently is no longer working in the office. Perhaps more on that later…).
The one “potential noncitizen” snagged in the Governor’s expansive and faulty dragnet–a Hispanic man in his 50s, living in St. Petersburg, who registered to vote in 2001 as a Republican(!)–has never cast a ballot in Florida.
The other 8 “potential noncitizens” removed from the voter rolls in Pinellas County–and celebrated by Governor Scott that his purge is working–were in fact identified by and removed from the list by Supervisor Clark.
Of those 8 individuals removed from the county’s list of voters by the SOE, exactly zero are the April 1, 2012 state voter file. That’s a big fat zero. They are not on the state’s list of registered voters, and thus we don’t know anything about them–their party, their race/ethnicity, their age, their past voting history (if any) and most importantly, whether or not they were citizens and eligible to vote.
Seems par for the course.
As I’ve written before, of the 11.2 million registered voters in the state of Florida, the Florida Secretary of State identified 2,625 “potential noncitizens,” and 41 have been removed from the rolls. And of the 2,625 “potential noncitizens” identified by Governor Scott’s henchmen, there is evidence that perhaps 7 have ever cast a ballot. It remains unclear, however, as to whether or not they were noncitizens (at the time) and thus ineligible to exercise their franchise.
As I’ve said before, Governor Scott’s Voter Purge must come to a complete halt.
I’m really looking forward to the publication this fall of the 2nd edition of Matthew J. Streb’s Law and Election Politics: The Rules of the Game. What a great lineup!
Here’s the Table of Contents
Introduction: Linking Election Law and Electoral Politics, Matthew J. Streb
Chapter 1: Campaign Finance Law—The Changing Role of Parties and Interest Groups, Michael M. Franz
Chapter 2: Public Financing of Elections—Past, Present, Future, Peter L. Francia
Chapter 3: The Internet: The Promise of Democratization of American Politics, Lee E. Goodman
Chapter 4: Voting Machines: The Question of Equal Protection, Thad Hall and Lucy Williams
Chapter 5: Voter Identification Laws: The Controversy over Voter Fraud, Lorraine C. Minnite
Chapter 6: Early Voting: The Quiet Revolution in American Elections, Paul Gronke
Chapter 7: Recounts: Elections in Overtime, Edward B. Foley
Chapter 8: Direct Democracy: Regulating the “Will of the People,” Daniel A. Smith
Chapter 9: Political Parties and Primaries: The Tension between Free Association and the Right to Vote, Kristin Kanthak and Eric Loepp
Chapter 10: Third Parties—How American Election Law and Institutions Cripple Third Parties, Marjorie Randon Hershey
Chapter 11: Redistricting—Racial and Partisan Issues Past and Present, Charles S. Bullock III
Chapter 12: Judicial Elections—Just Like Any Other Election? Matthew J. Streb
Press Release available here:
Miami Dade College to Host Symposium on Hispanic Influence in the 2012 Presidential Election
Miami, May 2, 2012 – Miami Dade College’s (MDC) Center for Latin American and Caribbean Initiatives (CLACI) and the University of Florida (UF) Association of Hispanic Alumni (AHA) will present a symposium on the significant role and influence of Hispanics in the 2012 Presidential Election. The symposium will take place on Friday, May 11, from 8:30 to noon at MDC’s Wolfson Campus in downtown Miami. The event is free and open to the public, but registration is required.
The role of the Hispanic electorate is rising in the U.S. Latinos are the fastest growing minority in the nation and their vote may go from being influential to being decisive in the next presidential election. The panel will disaggregate the Hispanic vote and look at the different Hispanic communities across the nation, their electoral preferences and their potential role in defining key races in important states. Panelists will also discuss Latino electoral preferences in connection to key policy topics, such as immigration reform, the economy, educational policy, and U.S. foreign policy in Latin America.
Guest panelists will include MDC Social Science Chair Dr. Victor Vazquez-Hernandez, UF Political Science Professor Dr. Daniel A. Smith and UF Political Science Professor Dr. Richard Scher. The moderators will be CLACI’s Executive Director Carlos Barrezueta and Dr. Michael Martinez, professor and chair of UF’s Political Science department.
The symposium is part of the events leading to the AHA’s signature event, the Ninth Annual Gator Guayabera Guateque (GGG), which raises funds for scholarships for minority students (many who are Hispanic) to attend UF. Both UF and MDC students have received scholarships from the AHA and as a result of this event. The GGG gala will be held in the Doral Golf Resort & Spa on May 19.
Symposium on Hispanic Influence in the 2012 Presidential Election
WHEN: Friday, May 11, 8:30 AM – 12:00 PM
WHERE: MDC Wolfson Campus, 300 NE Second Ave. Building 2, Room 2106
To register for the symposium, please send an e-mail email@example.com.
For more information, please contact Maggie Sequeira at 305-237-3501, firstname.lastname@example.org.
An interesting case coming out of Davie, Florida.
The Orlando Sentinel has the details.
In the 2008 general election, Florida voters cast some 35,635 provisional ballots on Election Day. That’s but a fraction of the more than 8.3 million ballots cast in the election, but in close elections, local, state House and Senate, or even presidential, they could determine the outcome an election.
But unlike regular ballots cast by voters, provisional ballots–despite what we’re told–often don’t count. In fact, in the 2008 general election, less than half of all provisional ballots cast were actually deemed to be valid. Days after the polls closed on Tuesday, November 4, 2008, and long after the unofficial results were posted by the Secretary of State and broadcast by the media, local three-member canvassing boards in the state’s 67 counties opened thousands of envelopes containing provisional ballots and began to tabulate them.
Whether they count, is another question altogether. Of the 35,635 provisional ballots cast in the 2008 general election, local canvassing boards validated only 17,312, or less than 50%.
The dirty little secret in the Sunshine State is that provisional ballots often don’t count. Or at least they don’t count as frequently in some counties as in others. There are innumerable reasons for the disparity, but the disparity exists. For whatever reason, provisional ballots cast by registered voters don’t have an equal shot of being accepted by local canvassing boards. The assault on voting rights by the Florida legislature in 2011, with the passage of HB1355, will likely increase the proportion of provisional ballots cast in the 2012 general election, and could very well lead to an even lower likelihood that provisional ballots will be validated.
In the 2008 general election there was a tremendous amount of variation across the state’s 67 counties regarding the number of provisional ballots cast and the percentage that were actually added to the final tabulation. In six counties, all of them largely rural, all of the provisional ballots cast (a total of 54) were deemed to be valid by the county canvasing boards (Baker (0/0); Dixie (11/11); Hamilton (12/12); Holmes (13/13); Lafayette (3/3); and Suwannee (15/15)).
Other counties, as this Provisional Ballots Chart reveals, also had high percentages of validated provisional ballots. For example, over 82 percent of the 731 provisional ballots cast in St. Johns County, 72 percent of the 411 provisional ballots cast in Pasco County, and nearly 60 percent of the 4,659 provisional ballots cast in Hillsborough (a Section 5 Voting Right Act county) were added to the total vote.
This 2008 Provisional Ballot Plot, crafted by my collaborator, Dartmouth University Professor Michael Herron, helps the visualization of where provisional ballots were cast in Florida in the 2008 general election. The proportion of the total votes cast in each county that were provisional ballot runs along the horizontal axis, and the percentage of provisional ballots cast in each county that were validated by the 67 county canvassing boards runs up the vertical axis. The size of the dot is proportional to the total number of provisional ballots cast, as distributed across the 67 counties.
There are several outliers, but two are pretty dramatic: Broward County, with its paltry acceptance rate of cast provisional ballots, and Osceola County, with its exceptionally high proportion of provisional ballots cast.
As I’ve written elsewhere with Dr. Herron, the rate of provisional ballots, the acceptance rate of provisional ballots, and the variation across counties should all be of grave concern as we head into the 2012 general election.
In the coming months, we’ll be investigating why there might be so much variation in the casting and counting of provisional ballots in Florida. I suspect it’s quite likely that these clear disparities across Florida’s 67 counties are not out of the ordinary when it comes to voting provisional ballots in other states.
So says the Pew Center on the States.
Florida ranks 7th overall in the PEW study, receiving “excellent” marks on “content” and solid marks for “lookup tools,” but it ranks in the bottom half of the states when it comes to the “usability” of the Secretary of State’s website.
Here’s a link to PEW’s evaluation of Florida, which is excerpted below:
Researchers assessed state election websites for the Pew Center on the States between May-November 2010 using detailed criteria evaluating the content, lookup tools, and usability. Websites may have changed since they were assessed. See methodology (PDF).
Recommended improvements include:
Noteworthy Feature: A “Candidate Tracking System” tracks candidates throughout the election process, describing their status, campaign finance activity, personal photos, and contact data. This information is updated regularly as candidates file and update their information.
Initial Quick Fix: Include a noticeable link from the state website home page to the voting information website.
Summary: Florida’s site scores highly and provides excellent voting information, including four out of five recommended lookup tools. Improved navigation and accessibility for voters with visual disabilities would enhance usability.
http://election.dos.state.fl.us/index.shtml was assessed for content, lookup tools, and usability.
Steve Bousquet, the long-time St. Petersburg Times Tallahassee reporter, has a must read column on the 11 Republican state lawmakers who have been issued subpoenas in a federal lawsuit involving four provisions of Florida’s controversial election law, HB1355. The lawsuit deals with the question of whether the US Justice Department should “preclear” the changes for five Florida counties, as required under Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act.
According to Bosquet, “The lawmakers, most of whom supported the legislation, are ordered to produce by Dec. 14 ‘all documents’ related to the four major election law changes at issue in the case.”
The most interesting comment in the story, I think, is from Representative Jimmy Patronis, a Republican from Panama City,who chaired the House Government Operations Subcommittee, which first considered HB1355.
Patronis, who supported HB1355, admitted to Bousquet that Bay County Supervisor of Elections, Mark Andersen, had urged him not curtail the number of early voting days, saying that Andersen, “told me how much the constituents love early voting.” Of course, these also happen to be Patronis’ constituents. But Patronis obviously had broader Republican Party interests in mind–and not his own constituents’–when he curtailed convenience voting in Florida.
[Incidentally, Bousquet gets it wrong when he says HB1355 keeps the total number of early voting hours at 96. It doesn't. Under the new law, Supervisors of Elections need only offer a minimum of six hours of early voting a day over the shortened eight day early in-person voting period, for a total of 48 hours, as Politifact Florida points out].
Anyway, the subpoenas from the GOP 11 should produce some interesting reading.
Last week, the U.S. District Court in Washington, DC, denied a complaint by Florida Secretary of State Kurt Browning challenging sections of the Voting Rights Act. The Florida Secretary of State was seeking an expedited hearing on whether HB1355, Florida’s controversial legislation overhauling voting rights and election administration in the state, complied with Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act, which requires federal preclearance for five Florida counties (Collier, Hardee, Hendry, Hillsborough, and Monroe). Secretary of State Browning is requesting that the federal district court approve portions of the new law–specifically third party voter registration, out-of-county address changes, petition signature verification, and early voting–rather than waiting for US Department of Justice’s preclearance.
Although on hold for the five counties awaiting US Justice Department preclearance, the Florida Division of Elections has been working with the Supervisors of Elections in the remaining 62 counties not covered by Section 5 of the VRA to implement the many new provisions under HB1355 (Chapter 2011-40) in anticipation of the January 31 Presidential Preference Primary.
However, under Florida law, the state must provide uniform standards for the proper and equitable implementation of the voter registration laws. It is the responsibility of the Florida Secretary of State, as unambiguously stated on the Florida Division of Elections website, “to ensure statewide uniformity in the interpretation of the election laws.”
But the uneven implementation of HB1355 continues, unabated.
Clearly, Florida’s dual election system is not treating all Floridians the same. As the Brennan Center noted back in June:
In denying the state’s request for an expedited hearing and decision, the federal district court’s decision to wait until May to hear oral arguments has virtually assured that the January 31 PPP will be conducted with two sets of election laws, which directly conflicts with existing Florida statutes. But of course, the blame doesn’t lie at the feet of the federal district court. It lies at the feet of the Republican-controlled legislature and the Office of the Secretary of State, who has a constituency of one: Governor Scott.
Again, the Brennan Center in a letter to Secretary Browning on behalf of several voting rights advocacy groups, nails it:
Under Florida statute § 97.012 and prior advisory opinions by the Division, the Secretary of State has a duty to ensure uniformity in the application, operation, and interpretation of the state’s election laws. Applying HB 1355’s extensive changes to the voting and voter registration process only in certain counties, but not in the five counties for which preclearance is required under the federal Voting Rights Act before implementing voting changes, clearly conflicts with this legal mandate.
We therefore request that you immediately advise all Supervisors of Elections that the provisions of H.B. 1355 are unenforceable until they can be applied uniformly in all Florida counties, as state law requires.
Of course, uneven implementation of voting and election laws also violates federal law. In 2002, Congress passed and President Bush signed into law the Help America Vote Act of 2002 (HAVA). HAVA was Congress’s effort to clean up the mess in Florida resulting from the 2000 presidential recount. In order for Florida and other states to receive the billions of dollars appropriated to improve the electoral process, state elections officials were required to implement numerous reforms mandated under HAVA.
Among its many provisions, HAVA requires that the states “implement in a uniform and nondiscriminatory manner, a single, uniform, centralized, interactive computerized statewide voter registration list defined, maintained, and administered at the state level.” By most all accounts, Florida achieved by the January 1, 2006 federal deadline, with the Florida Voter Registration System (FVRS). The implementation of HB1355 in 62 counties, but not the other 5, is clearly in violation of HAVA.
Bush v. Gore may be dead (or at least dormant), but Florida’s Dual Election System may breathe some new life into it.
Professor Michael Herron (Dartmouth) and I look forward to sharing our findings on early voting in Florida in the 2008 election at the 2012 State Politics and Policy Conference to be held in Houston, TX on February 16-18, when we present our paper, “The Participatory Impact of Truncating Early Voting in Florida.” It’s pretty timely, given all the attention that Florida US Senators Bill Nelson and Marco Rubio have given to early voting and HB1355.
Here’s our Abstract (tentative):
Over the past two decades, an increasing number of American states have made it more convenient for potential voters to cast early ballots. Starting with Texas’ adoption of in-person early voting in 1988, 32 states now provide an extended time period prior to Election Day for voters to go to the polls. Despite the diffusion of and praise by voting rights advocates for early voting, in 2011 the Florida legislature enacted House Bill 1355, which truncated the state’s early voting period from a total of 14 days to eight days and completely eliminated early voting on the Sunday immediately preceding Election Day. Critics of the legislation contend the surreptitious goal of the Republican-controlled legislature was to depress African American early voting turnout in 2012.
In this paper, we draw on an original dataset to gauge the potential participatory ramifications of HB 1355 by examining patterns of early voting in the 2008 general election. By merging the state’s 2008 voter file, comprised of more than 11.3 million registered voters, with the state’s November 2008 early voter file, we are able to assess and study the race and ethnicity, party registration, age, gender, precinct/county registration, and vote history of each registered voter, including those who cast an early ballot, in 2008.
Unlike many studies of early voting in the American states which rely on aggregate-level data, we are able to pinpoint not only which voters were more likely to cast early ballots—specifically their socio-demographic characteristics—but we can also describe on which day during the two-week period in 2008 that they voted. We employ a variety of multivariate models to test the conventional wisdom that African American voters are more likely than whites to vote early, and vote on Sunday, and that older and partisan voters vote early more often (Stein 1998). In addition, using a voter’s vote history to model early voting, we challenge the growing scholarly consensus—which is based largely on survey data—that early voting merely retains engaged voters (Stein 1998; Neely and Richardson 2001; Berinsky 2005; Kousser and Mullen 2007; Burden, et al. 2011; Gronke, Galanes-Rosenbaum, and Miller 2008) rather than stimulating peripheral voters.