Angry Over Gay Mayor's Election, Florida GOP Leader Wants To Stop College Kids From Voting

Categories: Politicks
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Remember these lines? One GOP leader supported the law that created them to keep college kids away from the polls.
When Craig Lowe won a run-off two years ago to become Gainesville's first openly gay mayor, many hailed it as a landmark of tolerance in conservative Central Florida. But not the local county's GOP chairman. He saw Lowe's election, he says today, as a victory by a vast liberal conspiracy to use college students to "steal elections."

That GOP chairman now admits that the main reason he helped push through the voting law that lead to agonizingly long lines during the presidential election was to keep college kids away from the polls.

See also:
-- Florida Still Has No Presidential Winner As Miami Counts Thousands More Absentee Ballots

Alachua County's GOP chairman, Stafford Jones, tells the Miami Herald this morning that blocking college students in Gainesville from local elections was his main motivation for pushing changes to provisional balloting.

That change was one of the most ridiculous pieces of Rick Scott's widely derided 2011 voting reforms. Under the new rules, voters registered in a different county had to cast a time-consuming provisional ballot.

Previously, they could have just cast a regular ballot after workers checked a statewide database. Election workers say they literally never heard of a single case of someone trying to vote in two different counties.

And the new rule -- which led to the absurd sight of poll workers phoning around the state to check that the voter hadn't already voted in the other county and a 25 percent increase in provisional ballots -- was "like pouring sand into the gears of the machine," an election official tells the Herald.

So if there was no problem with people voting in multiple counties and the change gummed up polling lines, why did the GOP support it? Take it away, Stafford Jones:

"The liberals do a good job of bringing in college kids to vote on local issues," Jones tells the Miami Herald. "The kids vote on raising our taxes, but don't have to live here to pay the consequences."

Most Gainesville students kept their voter registration in their home towns while casting ballots in Alachua. Jones (probably correctly) figured the new rule would discourage voting.

So he encouraged his buddy, Rep. Dennis Baxley, to push for the provisional ballot rule, and Baxley says Lowe's election was a prime motivator. "It wasn't right for people to move in and steal an election like that," Baxley tells the Herald.

Yeah, how dare punk college kids try to get involved in democracy in the place where they live 10 months out of the year! That's not what our Founding Fathers would have wanted.

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8 comments
jack.clarkston
jack.clarkston

And the GOP wonders why they got one foot in the grave. And this guy the nerve, talking down to students that way...the very people that keep his town alive, the people that put bread in his mouth. 

Suzy Liz
Suzy Liz

During early voting and on Election Day during this recent General Election, I was present at polling places in Alachua County all day long -- from b4 the polls opened til after they closed -- including at the polling place in the student union on the UF campus in Gainesville on Election Day. 

From my in-person observations at polling places in Gainesville during this year's General Election, I  assure you that very many college students in Gainesville dutifully completed voter registration forms well in advance of the General Election, specifically with the intention of changing their legal address to Alachua County -- from their home county -- for the specific, intentional purpose of voting in person in Gainesville during the fall term at UF, when they would likely not be able to get back to their home county in person to vote there during the General Election voting period. 

After all, these students are among Florida's best and brightest; they are at least AS BRIGHT AS the electeds who may have intended to disenfranchise students at UF thru changes in the provisional voting laws. 

Keep in mind, these "kids" would not be admitted to UF -- a huge bureaucracy -- if they were not already well able to follow detailed, tedious instructions in specific. So, really, the law that required them to change their voters' registration in advance of the election if they wanted to cast their vote in person in Gainesville during the voting period was not the biggest obstacle I observed students struggling with at polling places in Gainesville this year.

(As an aside, I -- probably like these students -- have no objection to the law that requires voters to cast their votes in the community of official residence OR, if not physically present in that county during the voting period, to vote on an absentee ballot from one's home community. After all, many issues on the General Election ballots pertain to local government.)

From my observations at polling places in Gainesville during the General Election this year, the SNAFU that stumped countless students during this election had nothing to do with ANY changes to Florida laws, whatever the intentions of those changes in the law may or may not have been. 

Instead, what I observed over and over again at polling places in Gainesville during this latest election were bright, capable and politically engaged students who had -- well in advance of this year's General Election -- carefully completed voter registration forms for the purpose of changing the county of their official residence to Alachua, so they could, as a result, lawfully vote in person in Gainesville during the voting period. 

Sadly, outrageously, and criminally, too, however, when these careful, capable students arrived at polling places in Gainesville -- and elsewhere in Alachua County -- during the General Election voting period this year, quite reasonably expecting to lawfully cast a regular ballot (considering that they had already, intentionally and in advance completed the required paperwork to officially change their home address to Alachua County), countless such law-abiding students were obliged, nonetheless, instead, to cast provisional ballots, increasing their wait to vote and also obliged to then cast a ballot that might or might not be counted later, depending on the determination of the Alachua County canvassing  board. 

The reason for that outrageous development -- which affected many hundreds of students in Alachua County during the recent General Election -- had NOTHING to do with any changes to Florida voting laws. The reason for this broad disenfranchisement of students in Alachua County during the recent General Election was blatantly criminal:

In fact, well in advance of this year's General Election, hundreds of politically engaged students registered in person on the UF campus, intending to change their official home address to Alachua County for the specific purpose of lawfully voting in person in Alachua County during the 2012 General Election.

These registrations of students occurred -- by the hundreds -- during voter-registration drives held on the UF Campus at the Reitz Union, at Turlington Hall, and during Michelle Obama's speech on the UF Campus. 

And yet, when these bright, young students arrived at polling places in Alachua County -- weeks and in some cases months after they had dutifully and confidently completed the official paperwork required to lawfully change their residential address to Alachua County -- the Alachua County Supervisor of Elections Office very often had NO RECORD of their voter registration in Alachua County.

Pleas focus now:  What became of the voter registration forms that hundreds of students completed in voter-registration drives that were held on the UF campus in the weeks and months prior to this year's General Election? 

Because those forms never reached the Alachua County SOE office, hundreds of students who voted in person in Gainesville this year were obliged to cast provisional ballots, despite their intentional efforts to fulfill the obligations of the new law, which required them to change their voter-registration address in advance of the General Election.

From what I observed in person at polling places in Alachua County during the 2012 General Election, it appears very plainly that many hundreds of students were criminally disenfranchised during this election by some who presented the students with official voter registration forms during voter-registration drives held on the UF campus, but then never turned those completed forms into the Alachua County SOE's Office. 

The details of this unreported voting scandal are available for any who care to examine the story that waits, still, to be told in the astonishing volume of provisional ballots cast by students in Alachua County - students who intentionally completed official voter registration forms during voter-registration drives held on the UF campus in advance of this year's General Election, student who were, nonetheless, unable to cast regular ballots in person in Alachua County BECAUSE the voter registration forms they completed -- as the law requires, in advance of the General Election -- NEVER ARRIVED AT THE ALACHUA COUNTY SOE OFFICE.

In this same manner, other voters in Alachua County were criminally disenfranchised when they completed registration forms during voter-registration drives at the Food Stamps Office in Alachua County, and those forms were never turned into the Alachua County SOE office. 

Polling place clerks in Alachua County (at the very least) are very well aware of how routine these voter-registraion SNAFUs were during the 2012 General Election.



DeeinColumbiaMD
DeeinColumbiaMD

@Michelle9647 Funny how the community doesn't mind benefitting from their presence. It's not like these kids live there tax free.

PathfinderCS
PathfinderCS

@RepublicanDalek The scary thing is that I've been told things similar to that at a younger age...

b_scheller
b_scheller

@Michelle9647 Voting suppression, as American as apple pie and baseball...

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