Voter suppression, 2020 edition

The ballot goes in the envelope which goes into the mailing envelope

elon-voting-bars-buttonVoter 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.

Pennsylvania, clutch


Pennsylvania.mapBinghamton, my hometown on the Southern Tier of New York, is less than 20 miles from the northern border of Pennsylvania. I have a lot of connection to the Keystone State.

My maternal grandmother has family from the state. My paternal grandfather was born there. For all I know, my father may have been born there as well; it remains a mystery.

When I was growing up, the parents of my friend Carol, who I’ve now known only about six decades, had a cottage on a lake just across the border. Our whole class went there a few times.

I have this fuzzy recollection of taking a bus, possibly with one or both sisters, to someone’s house in Philadelphia, where my parents already were located. First time I ever tried grits; didn’t like ’em. I have an ex, and a brother-in-law and his family who live in the eastern part of the state.

Yet my sports rooting interests, beyond the New York teams, tend to be for the teams in Pittsburgh, western Pennsylvania, the Pirates (baseball) and Steelers (football). Two all-time greats on the Steelers share my birthday, running back Franco Harris and wide receiver Lynn Swann.

My father liked to drive down to Intercourse, PA, in Amish country so we could all have some shoefly pie.

I once saw a Rand-McNally map of Pennsylvania that spelled Binghamton as Binghampton.

PA Pennsylvania, a mid-Atlantic state (commonwealth) in the US. Usual historic abbreviations were Penn., Penna. Capital: Harrisburg. Largest city: Philadelphia, home of the Liberty Bell.

PE Prince Edward Island, a maritime province in Canada. French: Île-du-Prince-Édouard. Historically, P.E.I./Î.-P.-É. It’s the smallest province of Canada in both land area and population, but the most densely populated. Capital and largest city: Charlottetown.

PR Puerto Rico, an Insular area, a different sense of commonwealth, in the Caribbean Sea. My sister and her family lived there for about seven years, and I regret never having visited.

PW Palau, a freely associated state in the Pacific Ocean.

For ABC Wednesday

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