Voter suppression is alive and well in 2020 America. Some of it is systemic, some intentional.
You may recall that the good voters of Florida – I write that without irony – decided that they would do the right thing in 2018. They reinstated the voting rights of felons who had served their time, except for murderers and sex offenders. Constitutional Amendment 4 was passed overwhelmingly, to my surprise.
But wait! The state legislature almost immediately added a provision that if felons owed fines and court costs, they STILL couldn’t vote. To no one’s surprise, many of the felons are poor. So the extra requirement amounts to a poll tax, which is a violation of the 24th Amendment, ratified in 1964.
To make things more complicated, it is also difficult for felons to determine what they owe. The Florida Division of Elections web site says:
If a person is still unsure about fines, fees, costs, and restitution, and the impact upon restoration of voting rights, the person can ask for an advisory opinion from the Florida Division of Elections. Please review section 106.23(2), Florida Statutes, and Florida Administrative Code Rule 1S-2.010 for how to ask for an advisory opinion and what information is required.
Meanwhile, former New York City mayor and rich guy Michael Bloomberg, with others, is trying to clear the financial debt of the freed felons. Naturally, Florida’s attorney general Ashley Moody has an issue.She requested that the FBI and the Florida Department of Law Enforcement investigate Bloomberg’s efforts, as “potential violations of election laws.”
Bloomberg and his political operation “have raised more than $16 million from supporters and foundations.” The goal is “to pay the court fines and fees for more than 30,000 Black and Latino voters in Florida with felonies, allowing them to vote in the upcoming election.” Ya know, Florida, if you didn’t violate the will of your populace by instituting a poll tax, Mike and his colleagues wouldn’t NEED to pay off the felons’ tabs.
The naked ballot
Pennsylvania’s ‘naked ballots’ are 2020’s hanging chads. “Pennsylvania’s Supreme Court ordered state officials… to throw out mail-in ballots submitted without a required inner ‘secrecy’ envelope in November’s election, the Philadelphia Inquirer reports… Pennsylvania requires voters to place their ballots in an unmarked ‘secrecy’ envelope before placing that inside another mailing envelope.”
With far more people likely to vote by mail in the Keystone State than ever before, this decision literally could decide the presidential election in November. Know also that a total of 16 states are required to provide secrecy sleeves for absentee/mail ballots. That includes New York. Whether those votes will be disregarded without following the correct procedure, I honestly do not know.