Despite Longest Lines in the Nation, Florida State Secretary Calls Elections ‘Fair’

Despite Longest Lines in the Nation, Florida State Secretary Calls Elections ‘Fair’

Despite Longest Lines in the Nation, Florida State Secretary Calls Elections ‘Fair’

Florida blames all its elections problems on its counties, while missing major problems in its elections improvement report.


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 plenty of blame in this report on county supervisors of elections, though there were plenty of problems that were clearly of the state’s making. For example, Detzner’s report says that

supervisors of elections have a responsibility to make the proper preparations for an election and their county commissions have the responsibility to provide the appropriate support to meet these needs…. However, some counties failed to prepare effectively and it reflected poorly on the entire state.

Election supervisors probably could have better prepared if they weren’t sent on witch-hunts by the state to purge voters. Meanwhile, whose to blame for the disproportional burden placed on black and Latino voters for long-line waits. Or the 201,000 Floridians who were discouraged away from voting due to the election mishaps.

It should also be noted that while Florida was far from the only state with these problems, they were emblematic of the finding by Massachusetts Institute of Technology that black and Latino voters waited twice as long to vote than whites across the nation.

Detzner wrote in the report: “I can confidently say Florida conducted a fair election in 2012.” Given his weak analysis, it’s apparent that there must be some blindspots at the state-level, particularly where race is concerned.

Read more about what’s next for the voting rights movement in Florida and beyond here.

—Brentin Mock

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