Archives for the month of: July, 2012

Florida’s latest federal voting rights lawsuit.
Full disclosure: I’ve been hired as an expert for the plaintiffs.

PRESS RELEASE

THE HONORABLE CORRINE BROWN

THIRD CONGRESSIONAL DISTRICT OF FLORIDA

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: July 27th, 2012

CONTACT: David Simon

(202) 225-0123

David.Simon@mail.house.gov

Congresswoman Corrine Brown Files Federal Lawsuit to Protect Florida Voters

(Washington, DC) Congresswoman Corrine Brown, along with the Southern Christian Leadership Conference-Jacksonville chapter, several individual Duval residents, and the Duval County Democratic Executive Committee, will file a federal civil rights lawsuit to ensure that unconstitutional and discriminatory changes to the early voting laws are not implemented.

The August primaries will be the first time Florida is affected by the changes to early voting, which were passed by the state legislature last session. Early voting was instituted after the debacle of the 2000 elections when thousands were turned away from overcrowded polls. Since 2004, Floridians have had access to the polls for eight hours a day, for fifteen days right up until the last Sunday before election-day. The new law reduced early voting to ten days, gave county supervisors arbitrary discretion over the number of hours polls are open, and eliminated voting on the last Sunday.

The lawsuit asks the United States District Court for the Middle District of Florida in Jacksonville to enjoin the Florida Secretary of State and Duval County Supervisor of Elections from enforcing the discriminatory and arbitrary changes to early voting in the state of Florida and in Duval County. Specifically, these changes violate the First and Fourteenth Amendments to the United States constitution, Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act of 1965, 42 U.S.C. and 1973 (a) and the Florida constitution.

“Early voting has worked extremely well for all Floridians and especially for African American voters,” said Congresswoman Brown. “In fact, more than any other racial or ethnic group, African Americans have come to rely on early voting.”

According to Dr. Daniel A. Smith, Professor of Political Science and Research Professor at The University of Florida, in the 2008 general election, African Americans cast 22% percent of the total early vote, even though blacks comprised just 13% of the state’s registered voters. More African Americans vote during the early voting period than on election-day or via absentee ballot combined. Perhaps most strikingly, in 2008, African Americans accounted for roughly 34% of votes cast on the Sunday before the election. These trends are amplified in Duval County where 58% of African Americans voted early in 2008. In last year’s local elections, African Americans cast roughly 34% of the early votes, even though they comprised less than 30% of the electorate, and on the final Sunday of early voting, more African Americans came to the polls than did whites.

“There is absolutely no explanation for restricting early voting other than intentional voter suppression. In fact, it seems that Governor Scott simply does not want people to vote. We should be making it easier for people to get to the polls, not harder,” the Congresswoman declared.

“It is particularly fitting that I am filing this lawsuit at The John Milton Bryan Simpson United States Courthouse,” Congresswoman Brown pointed out. “I sponsored the bill that named this courthouse for Judge Simpson because he was a giant in the civil rights movement here in Jacksonville. Among other things, his orders led to the passage of the Civil Rights Act, and desegregated the schools, city pools, city golf courses, and the city zoo. I know Judge Simpson would not stand for such a blatant attempt to exclude African Americans from the polls.”

Congresswoman Brown and the other plaintiffs are represented by Neil Henrichsen of Henrichsen Siegel in Jacksonville http://www.hslawyers.com.

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That’s right.

10

Out of 11.2 million or so voters on the official statewide rolls as of April 1, 2012.

Here’s some quick analysis…

Approximately 0.000088496% of the current statewide voter roll may have voted illegally once (or perhaps more) over the past decade or so.

The percentage is even less when you consider the tens of MILLIONS of votes cast in local and statewide elections in Florida since 2006.

Notwithstanding the hundreds of Florida citizens who have been falsely accused by the Florida Secretary of State as being “potential noncitizens” who are supposedly corrupting the integrity of our voting system, it’s great to see that Governor Scott has exposed the myth of voter fraud in Florida.

Or not.

You see, the Florida Division of Elections, in its ill-advised and likely illegal effort to purge the voter rolls of what it claims are “potential noncitizens,” originally identified some 182,000 individuals who fit the bill.

Well, not confident in its list, the (new) Secretary of State, Ken Detzner (you see, the previous SOS, Kurt Browning, who was no angel himself when it came to protecting the right of Florida citizens to vote, resigned when he didn’t have enough confidence in the purge list his office originally generated, but that Governor Scott wanted him to pursue), pared it down to some 25,000 names, and then, finally, to 2,625 names, which his office then shipped off to the 67 Supervisors of Elections to do his dirty work.

Some of the SOEs balked, understandably.

But after the purging was done by the independently elected Supervisors of Elections, Governor Scott proudly defended the Secretary of State’s effort, saying to NPR, “We found that nearly 100 individuals that are non-U.S. citizens are registered to vote and over 50 have voted in prior elections.”

Now, the facts.

First, as I’ve documented elsewhere on these pages, no evidence has been provided by the Secretary of State that the 107 “potential noncitizens” it touted as being removed from its list were indeed noncitizens.

Second, also as I’ve documented here, a majority of the 107 individuals who were removed from the voter rolls were not even on the Florida Secretary of State’s purge list of 2,625 “potential noncitizens” that it sent to the Supervisors of Elections. Only 41 of the 107 names were on the SOS’s purge list of “potential noncitizens.”

As for those 41 (out of 2,625) individuals who the SOS identified as “potential noncitizens” and who the SOEs removed from the rolls (presumably after the SOEs–who do the actual purging–received proof), I have crunched the numbers, and identifying exactly 10 who may have cast a ballot.

Here’s the breakdown of the epidemic of alleged “noncitizens” voting, with the county and the last date of the election in which someone using that “potential noncitizen’s” name cast a ballot.

DAD 11/7/2006
HIL 11/7/2006
DAD 11/4/2008
LEE 11/4/2008
PAS 11/4/2008
OKA 11/2/2010
DAD 6/28/2011
ALA PRE-2006
BRO PRE-2006
DAD PRE-2006

Really? That’s it? We should have confidence in the Secretary of State’s new effort to purge Florida voters by matching data from the federal Department of Homeland Security with its own admittedly “obsolete” data?

Frankly, I’d rather trust casting a legitimate vote in Senegal.

Well, I had completely forgotten about this case.

The Initiative & Referendum Institute filed an initial lawsuit back in 2000, bringing a facial challenge to a 1998 ban by the US Postal Service on “soliciting signatures on petitions” on “all real property under the charge and control of the Postal Service.” 39 C.F.R. § 232.1(a), (h)(1) Violators were subject to both a criminal fine and imprisonment. Id. § 232.1(p)(2).

[For the record, I sit on the “Board of Scholars” of the I&R Institute, although I have not received any communication for years from the Institute, now housed at the University of Southern California. Also, for the record, their website is terribly awkward, not to mention, outdated.]

Seemed at the time, a tad harsh. Not to mention, unconstitutional.

But lo and behold! After several iterations by the US Postal Service modifying its rule — and subsequent litigation — the U.S. Court of Appeals, D.C. Circuit, upheld the most recent (2010) Postal Service regulation that allows petition gatherers to solicit signatures while standing on interior postal sidewalks, but the physical act of signing a petition is not permitted on the interior sidewalk. Rather, those wishing to sign the petition must head to a designated “Grace” area to fill in the information on the petition.

But, as Judge Janice Rogers Brown, who signed the majority opinion but wrote separately in a Concurring Opinion, stated:

“…this half-a-loaf solution seems more persnickety than practical. The harms about which the Postal Service is concerned—the impeding of traffic and the appearance of
Postal Service endorsement, Majority Op. at 11–12—and, indeed, all of the harms I can imagine, accrue in the initial, permitted phase of a signature-gathering encounter: the
solicitation.”

Look for this decision to be appealed to the Supreme Court of the United States.

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