Florida Early Voting 'Working as Intended'

By Ta-Nehisi Coates

Florida's Democratic Party is suing the state of Florida, attempting to extend voting hours, given that wait times for early voting have stretched up to seven hours:

Shortly after the lawsuit was filed, local election supervisors in Miami-Dade and Palm Beach Counties, where lines sometimes snaked out the door and around buildings, said they would allow voters to request and cast absentee ballots on Sunday. Voters in three other Florida counties will also be able to pick up and drop off absentee ballots. State election law permits election offices to receive absentee ballots through Tuesday as long as they are cast in person. 

But later on Sunday, Miami-Dade's county election supervisor closed down the line for absentee ballots after two hours at its Doral office. It was eventually reopened, and election officials said that anyone in line by 5 p.m. would be able to drop off a ballot. 

In response to a separate Democratic Party lawsuit in Orange County, where Orlando is the biggest city, a judge extended early voting on Sunday after a polling station at the Winter Park library was forced to shut down over a suspicious package. The extra hours were being offered at only one polling station.
Governor Rick Scott, a Republican, claims things are going swimmingly. Last year Florida shortened the early voting days from eight to 14. There's no real reason to enact these sorts of tactics except to make voting as onerous as possible.

My colleague Andrew Cohen looks to solutions:
Congress ought to pass a "Voters' Rights Act," which guarantees a mail-in option and ensures significant early-voting hours for 10 days before a federal election. That would give working people -- you know, the real "middle class" -- four full days over two weekends to cast their ballot. Congress also ought to expand the scope of the Voting Rights Act, the venerable civil-rights statute, to force local election officials everywhere in America (and not just in Southern jurisdictions) to justify restrictions on voting rights. 

And the next president, whoever he is, ought to quickly empanel another Commission on Federal Election Reform to investigate these partisan state schemes and recommend ways to achieve meaningful reform. Former Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O'Connor should head that commission. And former U.S. Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald should head up its investigative functions.

This article available online at:

http://www.theatlantic.com/politics/archive/2012/11/florida-early-voting-working-as-intended/264520/