People wait in line on the fourth day of early voting in North Miami in 2012. (AP Photo/Alan Diaz.)
Yesterday, Florida Secretary of State Ken Detzner released his long-awaited report on how the state’s elections system can be improved. He spent a month on a fact-finding mission, talking with county elections supervisors and other concerned constituents to produce this list of recommendations on “increased accessibility & efficiency in Florida elections.” But the only thing Detzner seemed to learn from the supervisors was how to throw them under the bus. The state secretary focuses mostly on the problem of long lines—Florida voters waited an average of forty-five minutes, the longest time of any state—and he goes out of his way to blame this on the county election officials.
There’s a lot to unpack about long lines, but before doing that, let me list all of the problems Detzner’s report does not address:
There is no mention of felony disenfranchisement at all, despite the work of the Florida Rights Restoration Coalition advocating for automatic voting rights restoration and Governor Rick Scott’s dialing back of progress made on this issue by his predecessor Governor Charlie Crist. Detzner fails to even mention the problem of confusing and trapping the formerly incarcerated with conflicting information about their voter eligibility.
No acknowledgement of the “souls to the polls” campaign, where community organizers mobilize black churches to increase voter turnout in mostly marginalized communities. The report backhandedly refers to early voting on the Sunday before Election Day as a “regionally popular voting” day that most elections supervisors would rather do without. But there’s no mention of race and how it helps black voters despite a federal judge citing those reasons for why Florida could not ban it.
Nothing on purging. Florida spent the better part of last year fighting for the right to purge eligible voters from rolls, falsely labeling thousands of them as “non-citizens.” This fight is still playing out in federal courts, but there’s no mention of this in the report.
There’s nothing on the problem of voters being challenged, unbeknownst to them, by groups like True the Vote, also leading to confusion and eligible voters denied their rights.