Saturday, June 16, 2012

Next up for Rick Scott: Handwriting analysis for voter signatures (no snark)

If you are not paying attention in Florida, you need to. If you are, you will forgive the quick rehash of what has happened up till today. It is important in the context of what this diary is about: Right now, under Rick Scott’s Florida, you can be declared a "non-citizen" with no repercussions... and the onus is on YOU to prove otherwise. The self-proclaimed superpatriot TeaBags in the Legislature are surprisingly unconcerned about the trampling of our fundamental Constitutional right to vote. However, today in Florida, an eligible Democratic voter who has voted his entire life, such as a 91-year old war hero, is declared a "non-citizen", given a few days to drive to the Supervisor of Elections office and “request an administrative hearing to present evidence”. (Good thing Obama is not from here, since Birth Certificates don’t count anymore with the GOP.) The 2012 voter purge we are all discussing is the middle step of a highly coordinated effort. (Google “voter purge” and see Florida in all its glory). Rick Scott was obsessed with creating a “non-citizen” database soon after he took office. Don’t take my word for it: his own former Secretary of State, Ken Browning, admitted as much when he turned from the Dark Side and resigned rather than comply. The purge is based on old driver’s license data with the excuse that if you are snagged, you can just make a lot of unnecessary effort and get your Constitutional right back again. (JEEBUS... we're only talking your right to vote! not your right to carry a gun!) An analysis by the Miami Herald showed that the list was predominantly made up of Democrats, independents and Latinos. Coincidence, no doubt, but there are also plenty of "helpful" private efforts to purge legitimate voters coming from Republican hate groups. Now, Rick Scott could have done a database over a year ago, but the idea is to purge people as close to an election as possible. Besides, last year was the FIRST step of the process: Voter Suppression. In 2011, Scott disenfranched 100,000 previously eligible ex-felons who'd been granted the right to vote under GOP Governor Charlie Crist and signed the most sweeping voter suppression bill in our state’s history. You know, the one that shut down non-partisan voter registration drives; levied thousand-dollar fines for turning in registration forms late (something a teacher found out when she tried to criminally register her students), shred early voting, force provisional ballots to those who changed their name (women) and moved (college students), and allowed vote-caging operations. Which brings me to today. There are plenty of diaries and a lot of outrage on the voter purge, as there was a lot of anger with the voter suppression efforts last year. But I wish to talk a bit more about what I see as the final bullet coming from last year's law that received little attention. The one bullet that alters the standard for review of the voter signature. From a recent article by Adalia Woodbury:
Florida Concocts Signature Test to Purge Democratic Voters Even if you survive seriously flawed basis by which Florida is purging people from the rolls, you still need to contend with the signatures please law. This law requires voters to register their signatures with the government because signatures change with age…. ...let’s consider who will be deciding IF your signature matches the one on file. I’m guessing the same people who have done such an awesome job in the battle of nonexistent voter fraud so far will also be assessing your signature. Will they have the training needed to assess whether your signature is a match with the one on file with the Scott regime?
Folks, there will be thousands upon thousands of provisional ballots cast this election year. Before the teabag takeover of 2010, if you had changed your address or changed your last name you could sign an affidavit and vote normally. The 2011 Voter Suppression law changed that and now forces you to use a provisional ballot, which are not counted the majority of times. However, if we are in a tight election, these provisional ballots, along with the thousands of absentee ballots, might be pivotal. The GOP already succeeded in getting these likely Dem voters off the regular voter rolls... so what would be the best way to stop the provisional ballots from tipping an election? You can prove new residence or new name... but how can you stop someone from saying your signature doesn't match? Granted, I'm being cynical. Voter abuse here in Florida? Perish the thought. Okay...so lets assume everybody who works at SOE is above reproach and will simply honor the new law requirements for my signature and the upgraded standard for review. It begs the question, who deemed these people experts in handwriting analysis? I doubt most of them have a Graphology degree. Heck, I'm not even sure I have a signature on file with the SOE… and I know for a fact that I never "update" it. It's a fact that signatures change as we age, and I don't think anyone has ever thought to visit an SOE office just to "update" a signature. Yet any SOE website has the fine print: Volusia Co. SOE:
Signatures on your registration record are used to verify signatures on petitions, absentee ballots and provisional ballots. If your signatures do not match, your petition or ballot will not count. To update your signature, submit a Florida Voter Registration Application Form to the Department of Elections.
Alls I know is that I nor anyone else voting in this election here in Florida is going to have any chance to fight an injustice, such as having a provisional ballot thrown out because it didn't match a signature block. Since that awful day in Nov. 2010 you'd think we'd be used to this by now. What the GOP is doing is beyond brazen, and here I am on Dkos being asked to petition Obama's own DOJ to even bother to fight these efforts. (It's here if you want to.) But what really teas me off is my state Dem party won't even attempt a citizen initiative to reverse the Voter Suppression law or for that matter, do a damn thing about anything, except make crappy web ads. If we are ever gonna win here in Florida, we have only ourselves to count on.

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