Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Who gets to vote?

New black voters, 1966.

Here's yet another case of politicians picking their voters rather than voters picking their politicians. This one is from Florida. Like every state under the federal H[elp] A[merica]V[ote]A[ct] (passed after the 2000 election debacle), Florida has had to clean up its voter rolls and create a statewide database of registrants.

Now a Florida newspaper's analysis shows that when new registration applications go through thestatewide level, somehow ten percent of potential voters get dropped. And there is a pattern to who gets filtered out:

More than 14,000 initially rejected — three-quarters of them minorities — didn't make it through that last set of [state] hoops.

Blacks were 6 1/2 times more likely than whites to be rejected at that step.

Hispanics were more than 7 times more likely to be failed.

Unaccepted but also not denied, they remain in limbo as "incomplete" or, often, sitting in Florida's new statewide voter registration system with no designation at all.

State law requires those "lost" voters to be notified; most contacted said they were unaware of the problem.

If Republican authorities have their way, a lot of jurisdictions are going to need a new civil rights movement.

In the early 90s I was part of a group of North Americans who shared their electoral experience with left parties in El Salvador. Our hosts shared a perfect description of this sort of barrier to public participation. They called it "strategic incompetence."

H/t TPM.

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