According to a prominent Friday Tampa Bay Times editorial, Florida Republican Governor Rick Scott is "standing between Floridians and their right to vote as U.S. citizens." He's the new George Wallace—the Alabama governor who defied the federal government in order to deny African Americans their rights as citizens 49 years ago this month.1
Gov. Wallace was the face of the original Jim Crow. Now, Gov. Scott is the face of Jim Crow 2.0, as he refuses to halt his Latino-targeted voter purge, in defiance of federal law and a Department of Justice order.
Gov. Scott's racist voter purge began nine months ago when Florida's Division of Elections began challenging the rights of 180,000 voters based on bad information, and with the election drawing nearer, it's coming to a head right now. When the Department of Justice called on Florida to end the program, Gov. Scott responded this past Wednesday that they would continue despite warnings that they may be in violation of federal law.2
Attorney General Eric Holder can block Gov. Scott from illegitimately kicking Floridians off the voter roll. Attorney General Holder has the authority to sue the state and block the purge because of the harm it does to Latino voters. He must act today to ensure that the courts strike this program down before it's too late—and we lose another election.
Will you sign our petition to Attorney General Holder? It says "Block Florida's racist voter purge program immediately." We'll deliver it to the attorney general at the Department of Justice headquarters in D.C. next week.
We've got to stop Gov. Scott and other state Republicans from stealing this election for Republicans. According to the Brennan Center for Justice, 5 million votes will be suppressed this election, largely targeting people of color and youth, who tend to vote Democrat.3
So, the 537 Florida votes that elected George W. Bush in 2000 are now 5 million votes across 34 states suppressing the vote, which will elect Mitt Romney, along with a Republican House and Senate. Five million votes—if we don't stand up now, it'll be incredibly hard to win.
Thanks to analyses by The Miami Herald and other news outlets, we know that Democrats and Latinos were most likely to be targeted by the program.4 They've shown that Rick Scott's plan seeks to disenfranchise key blocs of Obama voters and threatens to tip a close election to Mitt Romney.
And beyond being a potential violation of the law, the racist voter purge is unpopular. Fifty percent of Floridians disapprove of the governor's program—a higher percentage than want their basketball team to win in the NBA Finals.5
While Florida's program is the worst, it's not the only state finding new ways to suppress votes. With racially stained voter ID laws that disproportionately impact people of color and low-income voters, we need the Department of Justice to be forceful and clear in its defense of voting rights everywhere. It's time to make an example out of Florida so vote suppressors everywhere know that if they come for our rights, there will be consequences.
MoveOn members always stand and fight when people in power threaten democracy. This year, the combination of big money flooding into our elections and coordinated voter suppression tactics mean that we've got to fight harder than ever before.
The next move is ours, and we're going all-in. We're preparing a public ad assault on the governor, using highly visible tactics to call this voter purge what it is: a racist attempt at disenfranchising Latino voters.
Thanks for all you're doing to step up.
–Garlin, Emily, Victoria, Elena, and the rest of the team
1. "Governor, halt the flawed voter purge," The Tampa Bay Times, June 8, 2012
2. "Florida Voter Rules Assailed By Judge, Justice Department," Bloomberg, June 1, 2012
3. "Voting Law Changes in 2012," Brennan Center for Justice, October 3, 2011
4. "Hispanics, Democrats biggest groups on Florida's list of potential noncitizen voters, analysis shows," Tampa Bay Times, May 13, 2012
5. "Florida miscellany," Public Policy Polling, June 8, 2012
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