This picture of the line for early voting on Saturday in Miami* should explain why a Florida judge ruled on Sunday that early voting must be allowed to continue today, despite Gov. Rick Scott’s order that it would end.
The Republican super majority in the state legislature loaded the ballot with ONE DOZEN deceptively and circuitously worded amendments. These would, among other things, exempt Florida from healthcare reform; interfere with a woman’s right to choose; provide more tax breaks to big business that will cut funding from schools, fire, and police; and give the legislature the ability to meddle with the state Supreme Court, among other GOP wish list items that would be unconstitutional if not passed by voters.
The amendments take up a full three 8 1/2 x 14 pages, front and back, on the ballot and it is estimated that it would take the average voter at least 45 minutes to read them all, and that’s not counting the time it will take to consider all the other offices and local initiatives. Officials, of course, have been stressing the need to bring a filled-in sample ballot to the polls.
Before this year, state constitutional amendments could be added by grassroots groups after a primary vote, if they were narrowly worded and dealt with a single topic. In 2010, the state legislature ruled that only it could add amendments to the ballot, and apparently it forgot the part about keeping it short and sweet. This will be the first year that voters have had to deal with the equivalent of legislative bills on their ballots.
One can’t help but wonder if all this is by accident. We’ve all heard of the concept of “self-deportation,” in which authorities make life so miserable for anyone who is in the country to work that they leave on their own. What’s happening at the polls in Florida feels a lot like “self voter suppression.” If people were waiting up to seven hours in line last week to vote early, just imagine what tomorrow might be like. Most people will have to take a day off work, hire babysitters, and pack a lunch — and quite possibly, dinner as well.
Look for more mayhem from the state that brought you Bush v. Gore in 2000. And keep your fingers crossed for us.
*Taken by former House Speaker Dan Gelber (D), and posted on Facebook