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Florida GOP brings voting laws to new low


No one can deny that voting is a civic duty, right?

Well that depends on who you are. The reality is that many powerful people don’t want certain folks to vote. They go to extremes to discourage those folks from voting and even harass them to keep away from the polls.

In 2012, Florida’s highest officials disgraced their offices by engaging in this thuggish electoral thievery. Republican Gov. Rick Scott and his party’s legislative henchmen officially rammed voter suppression into law, targeting Latino, African-American, student, elderly, and other voters likely to favor candidates running on the Democratic Party’s ticket.

Florida officials are making such people use broken-down voting machines and purging them from voter rolls. Many folks in Democratic-leaning precincts faced procedural chaos and up to six-hour waits. That rigmarole deterred at least 200,000 Floridians from casting their ballots.

But now this discouragement has hit a new low.

Advocates for people with disabilities had asked whether restrooms in Miami-area polling places would be accessible to voters in wheelchairs or having other physical needs. They expected to get “yes” for an answer, as required by the Americans with Disabilities Act.

Instead they got this jaw-dropping response: “In order to ensure that individuals with disabilities are not treated unfairly, the use of restrooms by the voters is not allowed on election day.”

Yes, in a perverted twist of logic, “fairness” to people with special needs will be assured by treating everyone unfairly. Thus, the biological need to pee will trump the political right to vote.

This is no small matter, given that some Floridian voters waited in line six hours or more during the 2012 elections.

It seems to me that what Florida needs is a couple of good kindergarten teachers to take over the state’s election system. At least they appreciate the importance of potty breaks.

OtherWords columnist Jim Hightower is a radio commentator, writer, and public speaker. He’s also editor of the populist newsletter, The Hightower Lowdown. OtherWords.org



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