Our Common Good

A new Florida law that contributed to long voter lines and caused some to abandon voting altogether was intentionally designed by Florida GOP staff and consultants to inhibit Democratic voters, former GOP officials and current GOP consultants have told The Palm Beach Post.

Republican leaders said in proposing the law that it was meant to save money and fight voter fraud. But a former GOP chairman and former Gov. Charlie Crist, both of whom have been ousted from the party, now say that fraud concerns were advanced only as subterfuge for the law’s main purpose: GOP victory.

Former Republican Party of Florida Chairman Jim Greer says he attended various meetings, beginning in 2009, at which party staffers and consultants pushed for reductions in early voting days and hours.

“The Republican Party, the strategists, the consultants, they firmly believe that early voting is bad for Republican Party candidates,” Greer told The Post. “It’s done for one reason and one reason only. … ‘We’ve got to cut down on early voting because early voting is not good for us,’ ” Greer said he was told by those staffers and consultants.

“They never came in to see me and tell me we had a (voter) fraud issue,” Greer said. “It’s all a marketing ploy.”

Greer is now under indictment, accused of stealing $200,000 from the party through a phony campaign fundraising operation. He, in turn, has sued the party, saying GOP leaders knew what he was doing and voiced no objection.

“Jim Greer has been accused of criminal acts against this organization and anything he says has to be considered in that light,” says Brian Burgess, Florida GOP spokesman since September.

But Greer’s statements about the motivations for the party’s legislative efforts, implemented by a GOP-majority House and Senate in Tallahassee in 2011, are backed by Crist — also now on the outs with the party — and two veteran GOP campaign consultants.

Wayne Bertsch, who handles local and legislative races for Republicans, said he knew targeting Democrats was the goal.

“In the races I was involved in in 2008, when we started seeing the increase of turnout and the turnout operations that the Democrats were doing in early voting, it certainly sent a chill down our spines. And in 2008, it didn’t have the impact that we were afraid of. It got close, but it wasn’t the impact that they had this election cycle,” Bertsch said, referring to the fact that Democrats picked up seven legislative seats in Florida in 2012 despite the early voting limitations.

Another GOP consultant, who did not want to be named, also confirmed that influential consultants to the Republican Party of Florida were intent on beating back Democratic turnout in early voting after 2008.

[…]

Various voter registration organizations, minority coalitions and Democratic office holders are now demanding investigations either by state or federal officials.

[…]

Crist said in a telephone interview this month that he did not recall conversations about early voting specifically targeting black voters “but it looked to me like that was what was being suggested. And I didn’t want them to go there at all.”

About inhibiting minority voters, Greer said:

“The sad thing about that is yes, there is prejudice and racism in the party but the real prevailing thought is that they don’t think minorities will ever vote Republican,” he said. “It’s not really a broad-based racist issue. It’s simply that the Republican Party gave up a long time ago ever believing that anything they did would get minorities to vote for them.”

But a GOP consultant who asked to remain anonymous out of fear of retribution said black voters were a concern.

“I know that the cutting out of the Sunday before Election Day was one of their targets only because that’s a big day when the black churches organize themselves,” he said

Americans for Prosperity, a conservative organization backed by the billionaire Koch brothers, took aim at Florida Gov. Rick Scott (R) on Monday, accusing him of working against his state’s interests with his apparent change of heart on Obamacare.

In a statement, AFP said that Scott’s recent signal that he was willing to consider implementing key provisions of President Barack Obama’s health care reform law was a step in the wrong direction.

[…]

Scott had stood as one of the most stubborn adversaries of Obamacare, even in the wake of the president’s reelection, which effectively secured the law’s existence. But after first vowing to reject moves to set up a state-run health insurance exchange and expand Medicaid rolls under the Affordable Care Act, Scott said last week that he was ready to “have a conversation.” Leaders in the state legislature have also signalled a willingness to take steps toward implementation.

At last!

democrats.org

DNC Chair Deb­bie Wasser­man Schultz released the fol­low­ing state­ment on Gov­er­nor Rick Scott’s inter­fer­ence with the elec­tion results in Flori­da’s 18th con­gres­sion­al dis­trict.

“In a clear effort to overturn an election result after having lost at the ballot box, Allen West has now run to Governor Rick Scott to needlessly interfere with and politicize a non-partisan election process.

"All votes in this election were counted fairly and accurately, and Allen West has lost beyond the mandatory recount range. Having Governor Scott intervene is outrageous and inappropriate. After disenfranchising Florida voters by cutting down early voting days and creating extraordinarily long lines at the polls, Governor Scott is now trying to blatantly overturn an election result he disagreed with and undermine Gertrude Walker, a three-decade veteran of the St. Lucie County Supervisor of Elections office. Governor Scott needs to remove himself from this process immediately."

Recount ordered in Florida race between GOP Rep. Allen West and Democrat Patrick Murphy

thepoliticalfreakshow:

We spoke too soon about there not being a recount in the West/Murphy Florida US House Representative race…

Drats!!!

Scott has said that he opposes expanding Medicaid in his state because — even though the federal government will pay for 100 percent of the expansion during the first three years, and at least 90 percent of the expansion’s costs after 2020 — he worries that it will be too expensive after 2020. But Georgetown researchers predict that since the expansion will actually strengthen the health care safety net in Florida, the reduced strain on other social programs will more than offset the costs of covering more low-income Floridians.

As the authors of the report put it, “Extending Medicaid coverage to Florida citizens should have positive effects in terms of lower mortality, less illness, improved economic stability and a higher quality of life for those gaining coverage. In turn, improved health may well lead to lower overall health costs for both these individuals and the state.”

Other researchers have also documented the potential cost-saving effects of expanding Medicaid in Arizona, Nebraska, Oklahoma, and Arkansas. And public opinion is on their side, since nearly two-thirds of white Southerners support expanding Medicaid. Nevertheless, Republican governors like Scott continue to stand in the way, ultimately sabotaging their low-income residents and their states’ own bottom lines.

Gov. Rick Scott, one of the most vocal critics of the federal health care overhaul, is dropping his staunch opposition to the law.

Scott said in an interview Tuesday with The Associated Press that he now wants to negotiate with the federal government. He said it’s time for Republicans to offer solutions to help families after they lost their bid to defeat President Barack Obama.

“The election is over and President Obama won,” Scott said. “I’m responsible for the families of Florida … If I can get to yes, I want to get to yes.”

Scott had previously stated that he would not go along with any parts of the health care overhaul that the state controls.

The states least likely to join in the Medicaid expansion also happen to be among those whose residents are in the greatest need. The poor and uninsured in these parts of the U.S. will likely continue to go without unless their political leaders have changes of heart. Texas had the highest rate of uninsurance in the nation last year: 24 percent, according to census data compiled by the Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation. In Florida, Georgia, South Carolina and Louisiana, it was 20 percent. Nineteen percent of Mississippians were uninsured in 2011. Nationally, 16 percent of people had no health insurance last year. In Massachusetts, which enacted a comprehensive health care reform program in 2006, only 4 percent of residents are uninsured. States that refuse to cover more poor people will do so despite the fact that Uncle Sam will pick up most of the tab. From 2014 to 2016, the federal government will pay 100 percent of the cost of covering newly eligible people, after which the share will gradually go down to 90 percent in 2022 and later years.

Scott’s party lost seats in both the state House and Senate. Voters also rejected Scott’s $20 million tax cut for small businesses and a constitutional amendment that would have made it tougher to implement Obama’s health-care overhaul.

Those defeats, coupled with a 38 percent approval rating, put Scott among the country’s most vulnerable incumbents heading into the next two years when 36 governor seats are up for election, including 22 held by Republicans.

Murphy won a total of 166,799 votes to West’s 164,370, the Palm Beach Post reported. That puts Murphy ahead by 2,429 votes and gives him a 0.7 percent advantage. Florida law only requires a recount when the margin is 0.5 percent or less.

[…]

The race in Florida’s 18th Congressional District still hasn’t been officially called. Palm Beach officials must submit their results to state officials for them to become official, but Saturday’s final vote tally all but ensures the race is over.

Murphy already declared victory on election night and NBC called the race for him that night, but West still hasn’t conceded. In addition to declaring on his Facebook page that the race is “far from decided,” West filed lawsuits to have ballots and voting machines impounded in Palm Beach and St. Lucie counties. The judge in Palm Beach threw the case out on Friday, though, telling West’s lawyers that their arguments fell “woefully short” of what was required for an injunction. A St. Lucie judge is slated to hear West’s case on Tuesday.

Though Obama’s win was secured even without the state’s electoral votes, Florida’s results put all eight swing states — including Ohio, Wisconsin, Iowa, Michigan, Virginia, Colorado and New Hampshire — in the president’s column.

Four Days Later, Florida Declares For Obama

NPR

As Politico points out, whether or not the health reform law is able to operate as it was intended — and expand coverage to about 30 million previously uninsured Americans — largely depends on the extent that governors agree to cooperate in their states. But some Republican governors have already made it clear that they don’t plan on playing nice during Obama’s second term

Curled up on a couch Wednesday night just inside the open doors of the Cuba Ocho Art and Research Center in the heart of Miami’s Little Havana are Roberto Ramos, and his wife, Yeney Farinas-Ramos. They own this 5,700-square foot gallery and cultural center and they are exhausted, enjoying their first real moment since a chaotic Election Day.

They began to relax, drink a little red wine, and reflect on how embarrassed they are to be residents of Florida right about now.

Alan Diaz Tuesday was supposed to mark the first time Ramos had ever cast a ballot as an American citizen, even though he has been in the United States for 20 years and eligible to do so for 12. He didn’t vote before because he didn’t believe in it, he says in Spanish, because in his country—the one he fled in 1992 in a weathered skiff with two friends and 13 antique Cuban paintings—voting was a joke and a waste of time. But Farinas-Ramos talked her husband into giving American democracy a chance. In this country, your vote counts, she convinced him. Here, you get to choose who runs the government.

So Ramos took time out of a very busy day, marched down to his precinct, and got in line. That line wasn’t anywhere near as bad as it was in some places. Voters across Miami-Dade county and across the state had been standing in lines for hours at a time for the better part of two weeks, thanks to two key factors: the Republican Legislature’s passage this year of a bill that cut the number of days Floridians could vote early in this year’s election from 14 to eight, and a ballot that was 10 pages long.

President Obama wins Florida with 49.9 percent of the popular vote, taking the state’s 29 electoral votes. The race was close, with only a 47,028 vote difference

Damn, 10 Commandment Ray Moore got the bench back