Wednesday, April 4, 2012

League of Women Voters is hardly radical

When you think about radical political groups, the League of Women Voters is hardly where you start, unless you are the Republican governor or a Republican legislator in Florida. The League blatantly admits that since its founding in 1920, it has helped 20 million women register to vote. If that were not bad enough, in 1973 the League expanded its mission to include registering minorities and the poor. This work sounds fairly innocuous. But Gov. Rick Scott and the Florida Legislature do not see the work of registering voters as innocuous, so much so that groups doing this work, including the League, find themselves under investigation for potentially violating state law.

While the federal Voting Rights Act makes it illegal to ban minorities from voting, Florida has discovered that by making each step in the registering and voting process more difficult, slower and legally dangerous, it can accomplish what appears to be its goal of suppressing the vote.

Florida voter registrations are currently 81,471 fewer than in 2008. Is Florida really ready to defend the proposition that there were as many as 81,471 cases of voter fraud in the last election? Or have 81,471 citizens simply been denied their rights?

There is in fact voter fraud there, but the perpetrator is the government of Florida. There are more cases of shark attack in Florida than of voter fraud. If the imaginary threat of hordes of ineligible voters can be used to intimidate the League of Women Voters, Gov. Scott and the Legislature will have triumphed in discouraging minorities and the poor from voting. Sadly, America as an exceptional democratic nation will have lost, big time.

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