On the stump this week for Republican candidates, NJ's Gov. Chris Christie said GOP governors need to win this year, so they can be in control of the "voting mechanisms" during what he believes might be his own run for President in 2016. He cited three races in particular, in three states that would be crucial to him as the GOP nominee, as reported by New Jersey's The Record...
Republican governors are facing intense fights in the courts over laws they pushed that require specific identification in order to vote and that reduce early voting opportunities. Critics say those laws sharply curtail the numbers of poor and minority voters, who would likely vote for Democrats. Christie - who vetoed a bill to extend early voting in New Jersey - is campaigning for many of those governors now as he considers a run for president in 2016.
Christie stressed the need to keep Republicans in charge of states - and overseeing state-level voting regulations - ahead of the next presidential election.
"Would you rather have Rick Scott in Florida overseeing the voting mechanism, or Charlie Crist? Would you rather have Scott Walker in Wisconsin overseeing the voting mechanism, or would you rather have Mary Burke? Who would you rather have in Ohio, John Kasich or Ed FitzGerald?" he asked.
Great questions, Governor Christie! Let's take a crack at offering some answers for ya...
"Would you rather have Rick Scott in Florida overseeing the voting mechanism, or Charlie Crist?"
As Governor, Republican Rick Scott shortened the number of early voting days in Florida leading to a refusal to extend hours even after enormous wait times at the polls and 6-hour long lines on Election Day. More than 200,000 voters couldn't vote because of it. He then offered an apology, of sorts, after the election, along with a call to restore the early voting days before his own election this year. He also restricted voter registration, leading to the League of Women Voters' to end their 70 year voting drive in the state, but was later found to be in violation of the federal Voting Rights Act and ordered by a federal court to remove the "onerous" restrictions. He also attempted to remove thousands of "non-citizens" from the voting rolls, even though it turned out there were virtually zero "non-citizens" on the rolls. He then faced an uprising from Republican and Democratic election officials alike when he tried, last year, to put new limits on absentee voting. Nonetheless, Scott has kept up his attempted voter suppression even this year.
Oh, and Rick Scott was also in control of the "voting mechanisms" as Governor of Florida in 2012 when the state Republican Party hired a long-time GOP operative who ran companies with a sordid history of voter registration fraud allegations to run GOP voter registration efforts. That didn't work out well, when hundreds of fraudulent registrations began showing up across the state in the lead-up to the Presidential Election, as collected by the firm's workers and turned in to election officials by the state GOP. A fourth GOP registration worker was arrested in Florida on multiple voter registration felony charges just a few weeks ago as a result of state law-enforcement's two-year criminal investigation into the matter.
Scott's challenger for Florida Governor this year is Charlie Crist, who is now a Democrat, but used to be the Republican Governor of Florida. As Florida Governor, Charlie Crist restored the voting franchise to non-violent felons who had served their time, but then Scott rolled back those reforms, resulting in more than 1.5 million former felons who have been robbed of their right to vote in the Sunshine State. While Governor Crist also got rid of the 100% unverifiable touch-screen voting machines that had plagued the state of Florida for years. After leaving the Republican Party, Crist said it was "crystal clear" that GOP claims that Photo ID voting restrictions are needed to stop "voter fraud" is "bunk".
"Would you rather have Scott Walker in Wisconsin overseeing the voting mechanism, or would you rather have Mary Burke?"
Moving on to Wisconsin. Republican Governor Scott Walker has spent years championing and lying about the GOP Photo ID voting law in that state, the one which was found in violation of the state constitution by several different state judges, and also in violation of the U.S. Constitution by a federal judge after a full trial on the merits. Despite the attempt to enact the law which would have, among other things, barred the use of Veterans IDs for voting purposes, the U.S. District Court judge who presided over the trial determined that it could disenfranchise as many as 300,000 legally registered voters, despite the fact that "defendants could not point to a single instance of known voter impersonation occurring in Wisconsin at any time in the recent past." The judge added that it was "absolutely clear" that Walker's Photo ID restrictions would "prevent more legitimate votes from being cast than fraudulent votes."
On that basis alone, advantage to Walker's opponent Mary Burke!
"Who would you rather have in Ohio, John Kasich or Ed FitzGerald?"
Finally, when it comes to the "voting mechanisms" in Ohio, the choice seems very clear as well Republican Governor John Kasich signed into law new restrictions on early voting that rolled back very successful reforms instituted after the state's disastrous 2004 election, which featured 6 to 8 hour lines, and the last vote cast in the state around 2am on Wednesday morning. Despite the success of those reforms, Kasich's first attempted roll back of early voting on the Sunday before elections for all but active duty military in 2012 was nixed by the U.S. District Court and upheld by the 6th Circuit Court of Appeals.
After the election, Kasich signed a law which rolled back a full week of early voting, including the one week in which voters could both register and vote at the same time, and further approved the end of some evening and Sunday voting hours, which are regarded as "Souls to the Polls" day for African-American churches who get out the vote on the final Sunday before Election Day. Both a U.S. District Court and the 6th Circuit Court of Appeal once again ordered those restriction on voting restored, but the ruling was later vacated by the U.S. Supreme Court on the basis that it was too soon before voting was to begin to make the changes.
And, again, on that basis, advantage clearly goes to Kasich's Democratic opponent Ed FitzGerald.
But perhaps Christie wasn't posing those question to us, since we actually give a damn about voting rights, no matter whose are being violated by ambitious politicians who prefer to cheat and control the "voting mechanisms" to "win", rather than respect the voting rights of all voters.
(Snail mail support to "Brad Friedman, 7095 Hollywood Blvd., #594 Los Angeles, CA 90028" always welcome too!)