voter purge

Changing Voters to New Precincts With Poor Notification: New Vote Suppression Tactic in Florida?

This is the mailer in which my new voter ID card arrived. Nowhere does it point out that I have been changed from one precinct to another so that I vote at a new site.

Today is primary day in Florida. It is being held on the earliest date in the past 40 years since Florida is hosting the Republican National Convention later this month. While there has been much attention paid to Rick Scott’s infamous voter purge that has prompted legal action from the Justice Department, today I encountered a much more insidious situation that could lead to many more people not voting in November.

I have resided at my current address since 2004 and have voted at a wonderful little country church whose building dates back to 1886 (there is music on autoplay at this link). But when my wife and I stopped by to vote on our way to lunch today, we got quite a surprise. The poll workers could not find either one of us on the voter list. After we joked a bit about being included in the purge because of my left wing blogging, the clerk picked up the phone to speak with the Alachua County Supervisor of Elections office to seek an answer for us. While she was still on the phone seeking information, another voter who came in after us also found that he was not listed on the voter roll.

It turns out that we have been switched to another polling place that is only a few blocks away from where we have voted for the past eight years. In order to drive from our house to our new polling place, we must drive past the old one. The election workers insisted that voters who were moved from one precinct to another were informed, but neither my wife nor I could recall seeing any such notification.

We dutifully went to the new polling place and voted. When I got back from lunch, I went through the spots in our house where mail might have accumulated and found the “notification” that had been sent. From the photo above, it is very easy to see how these notifications (there was one for each of the three registered voters in our household) had been set aside for holding since on first glance it looks only like a standard form for ordering an absentee ballot. Our travel plans did not call for us to be away today, so these forms had been set aside in case our plans changed.

Opening my mailer today, I found that the “Voter Information Card” referenced on the outside of the mailer was actually a new version of what I call my voter registration card. Nowhere on this mailer, either on the outside or inside, does it mention for voters to look carefully to determine whether their precincts have changed. My wife and I inexplicably have been moved from precinct 18 to precinct 58 and the only way to know that is to look at the small entry on the Voter Information Card.

Because I have a car and I don’t work on a time clock, I was able to work my way through this mix-up with only a few minutes lost and minor aggravation. Well, I also did stop to fill out a satisfaction survey to let the Supervisor of Elections know that I felt they handled this transition very poorly. It also helped that I did this during the low-turnout primary rather than November’s general election.

How many people will be disenfranchised in Florida this November because their precincts have changed? How will people who rely on bus transportation to their polling places deal with such a change? Will they have time to go to a new site if they are working on Election Day? The early voting period was shortened from two weeks to eight days this year in another move by Florida Republicans to make it harder for working people to vote and is another factor in today’s expected low turnout.

Oh, and just in case you clicked on the link to the Alachua County Supervisor of Elections, their link for “Information on Polling Place Changes” is not about people moving from one precinct to another. It is about changes to the voting sites themselves.

Update: Oh my. Look what I missed in the local paper while I was on vacation last week. The article bears the headline “Redrawn precincts could create confusion, groups say” and reads in part:

Leaders of the local NAACP and other organizations said Wednesday that new voting precincts could lead to confusion on election day and urged residents to learn their new polling place or to cast ballots early. Continue reading

Emptywheel Twitterverse
bmaz @cocktailhag There's not going to be enough of them.
2mreplyretweetfavorite
bmaz @RKTlaw I doubt that, I think they will want to end the issue one way or another, but it is possible.
19mreplyretweetfavorite
bmaz @RKTlaw Heh, at this rate, there may never be a circuit split and they just sit back and let it happen.
19mreplyretweetfavorite
bmaz @RKTlaw Maybe, but there seems to be scant few below that want to go there anymore. It is amazing.
26mreplyretweetfavorite
bmaz The snowball in favor of marriage and LGBT equality in American courts is amazing. Who will the the last judge to endorse the bigotry?
29mreplyretweetfavorite
JimWhiteGNV RT @bmaz: This new state court decision by Judge Zabel deeming FL SSM ban unconstitutional is really something beautiful http://t.co/KrMHDa
29mreplyretweetfavorite
JimWhiteGNV RT @mattduss: Bibi lied. People died. http://t.co/9i85wpDxuy
30mreplyretweetfavorite
bmaz This new state court decision by Judge Zabel deeming FL SSM ban unconstitutional is really something beautiful http://t.co/KrMHDawncQ
30mreplyretweetfavorite
bmaz @AllThingsHLS @gregpmiller In some fairness, most said deals involved traditional cooperation agreements, something not really applic to ES
35mreplyretweetfavorite
bmaz @AllThingsHLS @gregpmiller Yeah, but contrary to govt claim it never happens, Ive cut deals for extraterritorial return before; best option.
42mreplyretweetfavorite
emptywheel Did David Sanger just ignore the French and Israelis, who like China, steal commercial data?
43mreplyretweetfavorite
bmaz .@gregpmiller That's alright, Ledgett was fairly disingenuous about the "offer" in the first place. Never more than press fodder.
48mreplyretweetfavorite
July 2014
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