In a report from the Palm Beach Post, the former head of the Florida Republican Party claimed that a law that shortens early voting periods in Florida was designed to purposely suppress voting amongst groups that usually support Democratic candidates.
“The Republican Party, the strategists, the consultants, they firmly believe that early voting is bad for Republican Party candidates,” Jim Greer said in an interview with the Palm Beach Post. “It’s done for one reason and one reason only…‘We’ve got to cut down on early voting because early voting is not good for us.’”
The law was signed by Governor Rick Scott in November of 2011 after it was passed by the Republican legislature in Florida. It is known as HB 1355 and it dropped the number of early voting days to eight from 14. The law was billed as an effort to reduce voter fraud and save the state money. Greer claims that those ideas were just a ‘marketing ploy.’
Greer worked as the GOP chairman for Florida from 2006 to 2010 until being forced to resign following claims that he stole money from his party. Greer’s case is still pending following his arrest. Governor Scott’s predecessor, Charlie Crist, was able to stay away from changing the early voting period by making the same claims as Greer.
Crist was interviewed by the Huffington Post earlier in November and he said that the law was created to prevent Democrat turnout.
“The only thing that makes any sense as to why this is happening and being done is voter suppression,” he said. “People have fought and died for our right to vote, and unfortunately our legislature and this governor have decided they want to make early voting less available to Floridians rather than more available … It’s hard for me as an American to comprehend why you don’t make democracy as easy as possible to exercise for the people of our state. It’s frankly unconscionable.”
Greer also said that changing early voting would affect the African Americans living in Florida, who typically vote Democrat.
“The sad thing about that is yes, there is prejudice and racism in the party but the real prevailing thought is that they don’t think minorities will ever vote Republican,” Greer said.
A panel of federal judges overturned a couple sections of HB 1355 back in August, most notably due to its impact on the turnout of minority groups. The panel of judges ruled “dramatic reduction in the form of voting that is disproportionately used by African-Americans would make it materially more difficult for some minority voters to cast a ballot than under the benchmark law.”