In the ‘Republicans are becoming more up-front with their bigotry’ corner, we have the GOP controlled Board Of County Commissioners in Manatee County, Florida, who voted Tuesday to eliminate a third of all voting locations. The commissioners voted 6 to 1 to accept the elimination of voting locations despite the fact that it would do away with half the voting places available for minority voters.
Naturally the only person who complained was the Democrat who also happens to represent District 2, a mostly minority district.
Manatee Democratic Party Chairwoman Patty Benson says her concern is the handicapped, and people without transportation. “Most of the people I’m worried about do not have bus service,” she said. “Who’s going to get these people there?”
Mike Bennett (R) is the elections supervisor who made the recommendation to make it harder for minorities in Manatee County to vote in the first place. In his first term he proposed cutting the number of districts from 99 to 69, saying that county residents are moving toward absentee and by-mail voting are eliminating the need for voting locations.
Susie Copeland disagrees. “I think the people most adversely affected by the changes were not taken into consideration,” said Susie Copeland, National Association for the Advancement of Colored People president. “The more affluent community was left alone, and as far as their polling place, they didn’t suffer same kind of closings as poorer neighborhoods.” She says African-American voters are not all that thrilled about early voting and absentee balloting, generally. “African-Americans are very leery voting absentee ballot,” said Copeland. “They’re afraid their vote won’t be counted.”
In 2001, Bennett made it pretty clear how he felt about making voting easy for people. He said, “I wouldn’t have any problem making it harder. I would want them to vote as badly as I want to vote. I want the people of the state of Florida to want to vote as bad as that person in Africa who’s willing to walk 200 miles…This should not be easy.”
So now why do you suppose the greatest cuts to voting locations were in minority areas,a gain, if Bennett thinks all voters should have a harder time actually voting, again? Could the reason be “gerrymandering, racist, Floridian redneckery”? Yeah, we thought so.
For more Florida redneckery and unabashed bigotry, check out this story on how many kids have died as a result of Florida’s “Stand Your Ground” law, and a story about who is really writing laws in Florida.