Special Report: Something’s Rotten in the State of Florida

Florida’s Shameful Record of Voter Suppression and the Partisan and Sometimes Racially Charged Motivations of Those Administering Its Elections


When it comes to voter suppression and electoral controversy, Florida is perhaps best known for handing George W. Bush the presidency after the Supreme Court ended a statewide hand recount of votes during the 2000 election. In the end, Al Gore won the national popular vote while Bush secured the electoral college and the presidency.[1]

The historical infamy surrounding its administration of the 2000 election hasn’t deterred Florida political figures–from statewide elected officials and state legislators to county elections supervisors–from continuing to introduce voter suppression initiatives that have made it increasingly difficult for minority voters to exercise their rights to vote. For many of these officials, the motivation behind their efforts has been admittedly partisan and at times tainted by racially charged commentary.

Florida only recently reinstated an early voting schedule that allows up to fourteen days of early voting, after an incredibly restrictive election reform bill signed by Governor Rick Scott in 2011 resulted in the disastrous administration of the 2012 election in his state. The 2011 bill, which drastically slashed early voting days, also made it nearly impossible for voter registration groups, like the non-partisan League of Women Voters, to register voters in Florida.

The state also has repeatedly attempted to purge the Florida voter rolls of suspected noncitizens using inaccurate data that targeted minority voters.

While politicians tout “rampant” voter fraud as the rationale behind such restrictive policies, in reality there is no evidence of widespread fraudulent voting taking place in Florida or in any other state. Instead, Florida’s status as a competitive swing state in presidential elections is highly relevant when examining the motives of politicians who advocate for voter suppression policies. Many Florida officials who advocate for these policies have openly expressed political motivations for disenfranchising minority voters, who are more likely to vote Democratic.

Regulations to limit voting in Florida are being pushed by prominent statewide elected officials, like Governor Scott, who have advocated for a range of historically restrictive voting laws. Scott has been aided in no small part by Secretary of State Ken Detzner, who implemented the governor’s requested voter purges and opposed uncontroversial, common-sense laws that make voting more accessible for voters, like implementing online voter registration.

Voter suppression policies are also shaped by Florida state legislators, who have passed some of the nation’s most restrictive voting laws. County elections supervisors also have some amount of discretion in making elections more accessible to voters in their counties, but all too often, unfortunately, do the opposite.

This report examines recent voter suppression initiatives in Florida, shedding light on the players behind these efforts and the problematic partisan motivations that shape their decisions. Statewide elected officials and several state legislators notable for voter suppression actions were investigated, as were several county elections supervisors. Additionally, this report examines influential voter suppression groups with strong conservative ties and obviously partisan goals, working in Florida to disenfranchise minority voters. This report aims to provide an overview of current voter suppression issues in Florida, as well as the political actors behind them, in order to combat ongoing attacks on voting rights in the Sunshine State.


Voter Suppression in Florida

Voter Restrictions in Florida

Voter Identification Requirements

Florida enforces a photo ID law that requests voters present a photo ID when casting a ballot. If the photo ID does not have signature on it, voters will be asked to present an additional (non-photo) ID with a signature on it. If a voter fails to present an accepted photo ID, they can cast a provisional ballot, which will be counted if the voter’s signature matches the signature in the voter registration records.[2]

A wide range of photo IDs are accepted at the polls in Florida. The state accepts any one of the following:

  • Florida Driver’s license or Identification Card
  • S. Passport
  • Debit or Credit Card
  • Military Identification
  • Student Identification
  • Retirement Center Identification
  • Neighborhood Association Identification
  • Public Assistance Identification
  • Veteran Health Identification Card issued by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs
  • License to Carry a Concealed Weapon or Firearm
  • Employee identification card issued by any branch, department, agency, or entity of the Federal Government, the state, a county, or a municipality.[3]

The state has not restricted the type of photo IDs accepted at the polls since 2007, when the state eliminated employee badges and buyers’ club IDs from the list of acceptable identifications. In 2016, Florida added three additional types of IDs to its list of photo IDs accepted at the polls.[4]

It should be noted that photo ID laws have been shown to disproportionately affect minority, elderly, disabled, and low-income voters, who face greater obstacles obtaining identification in order to vote. A study conducted by political scientists at the University of California at San Diego analyzed voter turnout between 2008 and 2012 and found “substantial drops in turnout for minorities under strict voter ID laws.” Obtaining a photo ID can be costly and the bureaucratic process can be especially difficult for low-income and elderly voters who may not have birth certificates because they were born at home instead of in a hospital.[5] In fact, more than 21 million Americans do not have government-issued photo IDs and a disproportionate number of them are minority, low-income, and elderly voters.[6]

Election Administration Issues

Early Voting in Florida

Early voting in Florida was significantly cut by Governor Rick Scott in 2011. But in 2013 a new law restored early voting to a minimum of sixty-four hours over eight days, and allows counties to schedule up to 168 hours of early voting over fourteen days. Before being cut in 2011, early voting was first signed into law by former Governor Jeb Bush in 2004.

Florida’s restored early voting also gives county elections supervisors the discretion to schedule early voting on the Sunday before Election Day, which had been cut before the 2012 election. The early voting ban on the Sunday before Election Day was widely criticized by voting rights activists as a way to suppress minority voting by eliminating the “souls to the polls” tradition of black churches.

Florida offers no-excuse vote-by-mail (formerly called absentee voting), so any voter may request a ballot to vote by mail instead of voting in-person. The Florida Democratic Party, however, recently challenged the state’s policy of rejecting vote-by-mail ballots if the signature on the ballot envelope does not match the one the state has on file. The lawsuit, which names Secretary of State Ken Detzner as the defendant, argues that a voter’s signature can change over time and it may be especially difficult for some disabled voters—who would have a legitimate need to vote by mail—to maintain a consistent signature. The lawsuit also argues that standards for comparing signatures are not uniformly applied by counties, and vote-by-mail ballots are rejected at greatly different rates depending on which county evaluates them.[7] In October 2016, a federal judge ruled that Florida’s ballot rejection policy was unconstitutional, and “that local election officials must give voters who cast ballots by mail the chance to match their signatures to the ones on file.”[8]

Progress on Online Voter Registration

Governor Scott signed a bill in 2015 that requires Florida to have an online voter registration system by 2017, although the governor expressed “some hesitation” about signing the bill. The approval of online voter registration was praised by voting rights groups and county elections supervisors as a convenient and cost-effective way to make it easier for Floridians to register to vote.[9]

Severe Restrictions on Felon Voting

Florida has a strict law that bans all convicted felons—even non-violent offenders—from voting, even after they complete their sentences. Governor Scott’s administration, in 2011, voted to require that all ex-felons wait five to seven years before petitioning to have their civil rights restored. Even after completing the time-consuming application process, ex-felons can wait years before even getting a hearing for a chance to have their voting rights restored. Non-violent ex-felons lose their right to vote for life, unless their rights are restored by the governor and state clemency board. Florida is one of only three states in the country where felons permanently lose their rights to vote under state law.


Voter Suppression from the Top Down

Governor Rick Scott

Governor Scott has been the driving force behind several massive voter suppression efforts in the state of Florida. He drastically slashed early voting days in violation of the Voting Rights Act and made it almost impossible for groups to register voters, before his law was overturned by a federal court. He has repeatedly attempted to purge suspected noncitizens from the voter rolls in violation of federal law, despite the lack of evidence of any widespread voter fraud in Florida. Scott also made it more difficult for non-violent felons who have served their time to regain their right to vote.

Disastrous 2011 Elections Reform Bill

Governor Scott signed HB 1355, a highly controversial elections reform bill, into law in 2011. The bill heavily cut early voting, limited voter registration drives, and made it harder for voters who had moved between counties to vote.

HB 1355 cut early voting from fifteen to eight days, and included the elimination of Sunday voting the weekend before elections. The law also imposed onerous regulations on voter registration groups, including fines of as much as $1,000 for failing to submit voter registration forms within forty-eight hours, when they previously had had ten days to submit completed forms. The new law also changed a longstanding policy that had allowed voters to update their addresses at the polls, instead requiring voters who had moved between counties without updating their registrations to cast provisional ballots–a change criticized as likely to affect college students.[10]

The changes made to Florida’s election processes by HB 1355 were an undisputed failure. Federal lawsuits by the League of Women Voters and others invalidated parts of the law, and after a disastrous 2012 election left hundreds of thousands of Floridians unable to vote, Governor Scott reversed cuts to early voting the following year.

Voter Suppression Motivations Behind HB 1355

HB 1355 was wildly unpopular and had moved thousands of Floridians to reach out to the governor’s office asking Scott to veto the bill. A report from the governor’s office on the correspondence noted, “Constituents feel these laws need to be made easier, not harder for the voter. Feel that it restricts voting rights and is anti-democracy.”[11]

The new law was also criticized by county elections supervisors, who administer elections in the state. The statewide association of elections supervisors released a statement warning Scott that the changes could cause “chaos and confusion” at the polls. Even then-Secretary of State Kurt Browning—who resigned in January 2012 while HB 1355 was being challenged in federal court—was silent on whether or not he supported the overhaul of Florida’s election law, before finally voicing support for it after Scott signed it into law.[12]

Scott claimed that HB 1355 would prevent voter fraud in Florida. He said, “I want people to vote, but I also want to make sure there’s no fraud involved in elections.” Scott also said, “All of us as individuals that vote want to make sure that our elections are fair and honest.”[13]

However, in Florida and throughout the nation, widespread voter fraud has been shown to be virtually nonexistent. Although HB 1355 was signed into law in 2011 with the alleged intention of preventing voter fraud, according to the Florida Department of State, only thirty-one cases of alleged voter fraud were found between January 2008 and March 2011, and only two cases resulted in arrests.[14]

The overhaul of Florida election policy was, instead, a measure that suppressed the votes of low-income and minority voters, according not only to its critics but also to the officials behind the law. A series of stories published by the Palm Beach Post in 2012 revealed a damning fact about the controversial voting law: HB 1355 was designed with the intention of suppressing the votes of Floridians who would likely vote Democratic, including African-American voters.

Emmett “Bucky” Mitchell IV, former senior attorney for the Florida Division of Elections, was representing the Republican Party of Florida while working for a private law firm when he drafted HB 1355 after meeting with prominent Florida GOP officials. Mitchell testified during a deposition, “Typically, what I do before a (legislative) session begins is, I look at changes that I think would be beneficial to our clients.” Mitchell noted, “In this case, that’s how this election bill got started.”[15]

Voting rights groups, including the Florida League of Women Voters and the Florida NAACP, expressed anger at Mitchell’s involvement in drafting HB 1355. Dierdre Macnab, president of the Florida League of Women Voters, stated, “I’d be deeply concerned to think that members of a political party who are not elected officials, nor staff to legislators, are drawing up voter-suppression laws in back rooms.” She added, “It should be deeply troubling to the public.”[16]

Jim Greer, former chairman of the Republican Party of Florida who was ousted from the party, described the partisan motivations behind cutting early voting and other voter suppression policies, which he heard described at GOP meetings starting in 2009. He said, “The Republican Party, the strategists, the consultants, they firmly believe that early voting is bad for Republican Party candidates.” Greer added, “It’s done for one reason and one reason only.” Greer said he was told by Republican staffers and consultants, “We’ve got to cut down on early voting because early voting is not good for us [Republicans].” Greer said he never heard any of them mention that there was a problem with voter fraud, and described the focus on voter fraud as “a marketing ploy.”[17]

One Republican campaign consultant, Wayne Bertsch, also said that targeting Democratic voters was the goal of cutting early voting. He said, “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.”[18]

Another Republican consultant, who, fearing retribution from the GOP asked to remain anonymous, disclosed that cutting early voting and Sunday voting was a way for Republicans to specifically target African American voter turnout. He said, “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.”[19] In 2008, African Americans had turned out in record numbers to vote for President Obama.

Legal Defeat of Onerous Regulations on Voter Registration Groups

Several voter registration groups—the League of Women Voters, Rock The Vote, and Florida Public Interest Research Group Education Fund—filed a lawsuit challenging HB 1355 in 2011. Both the League of Women Voters and Rock The Vote had suspended their voter registration efforts in response to Governor Scott signing the bill, out of fear that they would accumulate high fines if their volunteers were unable to comply with the state’s strict deadlines for submitting voter registration forms.[20] HB 1355 required voter registration groups to submit completed registration forms within forty-eight hours or face fines of up to $1,000.

The League of Women Voters and others argued that the new restrictions for voter registration efforts were overly burdensome and violated the Voting Rights Act. Deidre Macnab, president of the League of Women Voters of Florida, stated that, “Florida’s anti-voter law created impassable roadblocks for our volunteers, who are simply trying to bring fellow citizens into our democratic process.”[21]

A federal judge agreed, stating that the “harsh and impractical 48-hour deadline” effectively prohibited voter registration groups from mailing in completed registration forms, which they have the right to do under federal law. The judge also blocked a new provision that required voter registration groups to notify the state within ten days if any volunteer or employee stopped working for their organization. The judge ruled that the regulations “impose burdensome record-keeping and reporting requirements that serve little if any purpose, thus rendering them unconstitutional.”[22]

The groups resumed their voter registration efforts before the 2012 election, but had lost valuable time having temporarily suspended their registrations due to the legal battle.

Department of Justice Challenge to Early Voting Schedule

The new early voting schedule signed into law by Governor Scott was challenged by the U.S. Department of Justice. At the time, five Florida counties—Collier, Hardee, Hendry, Hillsborough, and Monroe—were required, under a provision of the Voting Rights Act, to have any changes to voting laws pre-cleared (that is, approved in advance) by the federal government, due to their histories of racial discrimination.[23]

A three-judge federal court panel ruled that the cuts to early voting in the five counties violated the Voting Rights Act. The ruling compared the cuts to early voting to “closing polling places in disproportionately African-American precincts” and stated that Florida “failed to satisfy its burden of proving that those changes will not have a retrogressive effect on minority votes.”[24]

Governor Scott ended up compromising with elections supervisors in the five disputed counties, requiring eight, 12-hour voting days—ninety-six hours total—for early voting. In the original law signed by Scott, elections supervisors had the discretion to schedule between forty-eight and ninety-six hours of voting in the eight scheduled early voting days in their counties. Although the Monroe County elections supervisor pushed for a longer period, arguing that the cuts to early voting days would negatively affect workers, ultimately all five counties agreed to the new early voting schedule.[25]

The Justice Department granted preclearance to the changes in September 2012, after Scott slightly modified the early voting schedule that federal judges had ruled violated the Voting Rights Act. It was a agreed that Florida’s five disputed counties would offer a full ninety-six hours of early voting in the mandated eight-day period.[26]

“Chaos and Confusion” – Effects of HB 1355 on the 2012 Election

Florida’s elections supervisors predicted “chaos and confusion” at the polls after Governor Scott signed HB 1355 into law, cutting early voting and making it more difficult for voters to cast ballots at the polls.

That prediction turned out to be largely accurate, with Floridians facing hours-long lines to vote on Election Day in 2012. In Miami-Dade County, the state’s largest county, voters faced lines over two hours long on the morning of Election Day. Cedric McMinn, executive director of the local Democratic Party, noted that he had “never seen lines this long at my precinct.”[27]

Lee County’s last precinct didn’t close until 2:54 a.m. Wednesday due to the extraordinarily long lines. One Lee County voter described waiting in line for eight hours and not casting a ballot until 11.20 p.m. Another said, of her five-hour wait to vote, “I must have seen fifteen people, at least, just give up and leave off the line. I was absolutely livid. People [in line] were saying it was some sort of conspiracy.”[28]

Over 200,000 Florida voters are estimated not to have cast ballots in the 2012 election due to long lines in the wake of Scott’s changes to election policy. An analysis conducted by Ohio State University professor Theodore Allen, based on data compiled by the Orlando Sentinel, estimated that at least 201,000 voters did not vote on Election Day because they were deterred by long lines at the polls. Allen hypothesized that the actual number was even higher: “My gut is telling me that the real number [of voters] deterred is likely higher. He added, “You make people wait longer, they are less likely to vote.”[29]

Both the Florida League of Women Voters and the Florida Democratic Party urged Governor Scott to extend early voting due to the long lines that voters faced even before Election Day itself. In Miami-Dade County, for example, voters casting their ballots on early voting days experienced lines over six hours long at some polling locations.[30]

Scott, however, refused to extend voting hours, standing by his decision even after some voters faced lines over eight hours long. “I’m very comfortable that the right thing happened,” Scott told reporters after Election Day. “We had 4.4 million people vote.” Former Florida Governor Charlie Crist accused Scott of “voter suppression” for refusing to extend voting hours.[31]

The 2012 election was so problematic that Scott signed a new election bill into law in 2013, undoing some of the bad election policies he had signed into law only two years earlier. He distanced himself from the disastrous 2011 elections reform bill that he had previously praised, telling Florida’s legislative black caucus in 2013 that he was not involved with passing the bill. In a statement endorsing the new elections law, Scott said, the “ultimate goal must be to restore Floridians’ confidence in our election system.” Scott also said, “I want to ensure we do whatever possible to improve our election system from the statewide level.”[32]

The new bill restored early voting to a minimum sixty-four hours over eight days and allowed counties to schedule up to 168 hours of early voting over fourteen days. The law also gave supervisors the discretion to schedule early voting on the Sunday before Election Day, which made it possible for African American churches to organize “souls to the polls” events before the election. The bill also restricted the length of constitutional amendments on the ballots, which had contributed to the chaos during the 2012 election because of unnecessarily lengthy ballots and their long reading times.

Controversial Plans to Purge Florida Voter Rolls

Also prior to the 2012 presidential election, Governor Scott faced another voter suppression controversy—and another Justice Department fight—after his administration began a controversial effort to purge Florida’s voter rolls of suspected noncitizens.

At Scott’s request, the Florida Department of State began looking into whether noncitizens were voting in Florida elections. The Florida Department of State and the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles created a database that compared voter registration information with driver’s license data. Because the state allows noncitizens to obtain driver’s licenses, the state compared the lists to see if any noncitizen drivers had registered to vote. The state hoped to compare its list of potential non-citizens to a federal database that tracks non-U.S. citizens, the Systematic Alien Verification for Entitlements Program (SAVE). However, the Department of Homeland Security denied Florida access to the database.[33]

The original list compiled by the state included 182,000 suspected noncitizen voters. However, the data was quickly found to be out-of-date and included many errors. One issue was that driver’s license data was not updated when residents became citizens, so a newly-naturalized citizen, who had registered to vote but who had not recently renewed their driver’s license, would be flagged as an illegal voter.[34]

The Department of State narrowed down the list to nearly 2,700 voters flagged as suspected noncitizens—many in Miami-Dade County, which has a high Hispanic population. The list of flagged voters disproportionately targeted minorities, who made up 87 percent of the list, with nearly 60 percent of the flagged voters being Hispanic.[35]

The list was sent to county elections supervisors in May 2012, with instructions to review it, and begin the process of challenging and removing the voter registrations. Even though it had been narrowed down from the original list of 182,000 suspected noncitizen voters, the list sent to elections supervisors still contained the names of many eligible voters who were born in the United States or were naturalized citizens.

By the end of May, for example, at least 359 Florida voters had provided Miami-Dade County with proof of citizenship and another twenty-six were identified by the county as U.S. citizens.[36] In Broward County, a World War II veteran received a notice that said that the county supervisor of elections “has received information from the state of Florida that you are not a United States citizen; however you are registered to vote.” The 91-year-old Democrat “said he was amazed and a little insulted” when he received the notice, which gave him thirty days to prove his citizenship or be removed from the voter rolls.[37]

The Scott administration sued the Department of Homeland Security for access to their SAVE database in June 2012 and reached an agreement in August. After comparing their list of nearly 2,700 names to the federal SAVE database, they sent a new list of suspected noncitizens to counties in September 2012—which by then had dwindled to only 198 voters.[38]

The plan to purge the voter rolls faced intense backlash from many county elections supervisors, both Democrats and Republicans, who voiced concern about the accuracy of the data and the fact that the list disproportionately targeted minority voters. Vicki Davis, Martin County Supervisor of Elections, who was then president of the Florida State Association of Supervisors of Elections, said, “Supervisors have not been comfortable from Day One” with the effort to purge the voter rolls.[39]

Scott argued that purging the voter rolls was necessary in order to combat voter fraud and denied that the list of suspected noncitizens targeted minority voters. “The Secretary of State’s office is doing the right thing,” he said. “We want everyone to register to vote. We want people to vote. But we want fair elections. We want people who have the right to vote go out there and vote.”[40]

Scott also defended the suspicious timing of the voter purge, which began after the deadline for election maintenance before the August 14, 2012, Florida primary. “We were waiting on the [U.S. Department of] Homeland Security database. So it just kept getting delayed. I’m responsible for the state, but my understanding is they just kept delaying it,” Scott said. “There is no perfect time for doing any of these things. We just want fair elections. That’s what all of us want. This is not a partisan issue.” Scott’s statement came days after the U.S. Department of Justice sent a letter asking the state to halt its voter purge, and only hours before legal counsel for the Florida State Association of Supervisors of Elections recommended that all counties halt any further action on the process.[41]

Challenge to Voter Purge Effort by the Justice Department and Voting Rights Groups

Less than a month after the secretary of state announced the plan to purge the state’s voter rolls, the U.S. Department of Justice sent a letter warning that Florida had not notified the federal government of the voter roll purge, a move that violated the Voting Rights Act, as five counties in Florida specifically were covered by the Act. The letter also noted that removing voters from the rolls less than ninety days ahead of an election—Florida’s primary was August 14—also appeared to violate federal law.[42]

Governor Scott continued to defend the voter purge even after the Justice Department requested that Florida halt the process. At a Tea Party Express event several days after the Justice Department sent its letter, Scott touted his plan to purge Florida’s voter rolls. He told the conservative crowd, “Okay so the latest is who should get to vote in our state and in our country. People that are citizens of our country. It’s very simple, right? Who comes up with the idea that you get to vote if you’re not a citizen?”[43]

Separate lawsuits were filed against the state of Florida challenging the voter purge: by the U.S. Department of Justice, as well as by a group of civil rights organizations on behalf of two naturalized citizens living in Miami-Dade County whose names were included on the original list of suspected noncitizen voters sent to county elections supervisors. An additional lawsuit was brought by the American Civil Liberties Union of Florida, with the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law. The ACLU’s case was dismissed in 2013 after the U.S. Supreme Court overturned a key provision of the Voting Rights Act.[44]

A federal court ruled in 2014 that the Scott administration violated federal law by attempting to purge suspected noncitizens from the voters rolls too close to the 2012 election. Florida spent more than $90,000 in legal fees to defend the case.[45]

Another Failed Attempt to Purge Voter Rolls

Governor Scott was so intent on purging the voter rolls that, even after his failed attempt before the 2012 elections, he announced a second plan to purge the rolls.

Just weeks after the Supreme Court struck down the section of the Voting Rights Act that required preclearance for removing voters from the voter rolls in Collier, Hardee, Hendry, Hillsborough, and Monroe counties, Scott announced a new effort to purge noncitizens from the voter rolls. Of the ruling, which was widely criticized by voting rights advocates, he declared, “The Supreme Court has allowed our secretary of state to start working with our supervisors of elections to make sure our sacred right to vote is not diluted.”[46]

Scott’s new plan, dubbed “Project Integrity” by Secretary of State Ken Detzner, was abandoned ahead of the 2014 elections after it faced massive opposition from county elections supervisors, who were concerned about the accuracy of the data and were suspicious about the timing of the voter purge ahead of the election.[47]

Stripping Voting Rights from Ex-Felons

Governor Scott was responsible for reversing a policy, enacted by former Governor Charlie Crist, that automatically put non-violent felons in line to have their rights restored after they completed their sentences. In 2011, Scott’s administration voted to require all ex-felons—even non-violent offenders—to wait five to seven years before petitioning to have their civil rights restored. Even after completing the time-consuming application process, ex-felons can wait years before even getting a hearing for a chance to have their voting rights restored. Non-violent ex-felons lose their rights to vote for life, unless their rights are restored by the governor and state clemency board. Florida is one of only three states in the country where felons permanently lose their rights to vote under state law.[48]

This strict policy has resulted in a large percentage of ineligible voters in Florida. More than 1.6 million Floridians—or 9 percent of the state’s population, compared to an average of below 2 percent in other states—cannot vote. The law has a disproportionate effect on black voters; although only 17 percent of the state’s voters are black, one in four black adults are disenfranchised in Florida.[49]

Scott was widely criticized by civil rights advocates and the media for restricting access to voting for non-violent ex-felons. Editorials in the Tampa Bay Times slammed Scott’s decision, one stating, “Florida’s shameful distinction as the nation’s leader in barring felons from voting does not serve public safety or the economy of the state. This outsized problem was highlighted again this fall as a national advocacy group called attention to how felons across the country were being excluded from the 2014 midterm elections, silencing a huge population from the political process and creating a void in communities as a result.”[50]

Another Tampa Bay Times editorial noted, “The governor claimed the rules are in part responsible for Florida’s low crime rate. But that assertion is in stark contrast to a 2011 Florida Parole Commission report that studied thirty-one thousand cases over 2009 and 2010 and found that recidivism for felons who had their rights restored was about 11 percent, while the overall reoffense rate in the state is more than 33 percent. This suggests that felons who have their rights restored are better reintegrating into society.”[51]

Secretary of State Ken Detzner

Secretary of State Ken Detzner has aided Governor Scott every step of the way to implement voter suppression policies in Florida. He even has gone a step further than Scott by actively opposing a bipartisan plan to implement online voter registration in Florida, which led to intense criticism from voting rights advocates, media outlets across the state, and both Republican and Democratic state legislators.

Implementing Rick Scott’s Failed Voter Purge

When Scott first discussed his idea to purge Florida’s voter rolls of noncitizens, Kurt Browning was serving as secretary of state. At Scott’s request, Browning investigated the data available for such a massive project. Because the Department of Homeland Security had denied the state of Florida access to their SAVE database, Browning had to rely on comparing voter registration data with information from the state’s Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles in order to create a list of potential noncitizen voters.

The data appeared to have problems with its accuracy, so Browning chose not to release the list of names to county elections officials. Browning explained, “I consciously decided not to get them in the loop.” He added, “I didn’t feel comfortable rolling this initiative out. Something was telling me this isn’t going to fly. We didn’t have our I’s dotted and T’s crossed when I was there.”[52]

Enter Secretary of State Detzner, who replaced Browning after he resigned as Florida secretary of state in early 2012. As Browning’s replacement, Detzner willingly implemented Scott’s plan to purge Florida’s voter rolls, regardless of the dubious accuracy of the available data.

He culled the same data that Browning had deemed too inaccurate and sent a list of 2,600 suspected noncitizen voters to county elections supervisors. The list contained the names of many voters who were eligible to vote and disproportionally targeted minority voters. As the head of the Florida Department of State, Detzner implemented Scott’s discriminatory voter purge plan and was involved in the many legal challenges it faced.

Despite the failure of the first plan to purge Florida’s voter rolls, Detzner agreed to implement Scott’s second attempt to strike suspected noncitizens from the voter rolls before the 2014 elections. This time dubbed, “Project Integrity,” the purge plan faced so much opposition that it was abandoned.

Defending Discriminatory 2011 Elections Law

Secretary of State Detzner also defended the controversial elections reform bill, signed into law by Governor Scott in 2011, when it was challenged by the U.S. Department of Justice. The DOJ  argued that Florida did not prove that the law protected minority voters from discrimination in the five counties covered by the Voting Rights Act. A spokesperson for Detzner’s office stated, “We continue to feel that the other three sections are non-discriminatory.” The spokesman added, “That’s why we’re in federal court, to prove that, and we feel we will.”[53]

Later that year, a three-judge federal court panel ruled that the cuts to early voting in the five counties covered by the Voting Rights Act violated the Act. The ruling compared the cuts in early voting to “closing polling places in disproportionately African-American precincts” and stated that Florida “failed to satisfy its burden of proving that those changes will not have a retrogressive effect on minority votes.”[54]

Opposing Bipartisan Online Voter Registration Plan

Secretary of State Detzner faced extensive criticism for opposing a bipartisan bill that would create an online voter registration system in Florida. The bill was supported by county elections supervisors, voting rights advocates, and Republican and Democratic state legislators alike, as a convenient and cost-effective way to make registration easier for voters across the state. Even Governor Scott, who cited some concerns about the law, signed the online voter registration bill into law in May 2015.

Detzner told Florida state senators that the plan to develop online voter registration was “very high risk” and a “distraction” from the upcoming 2016 presidential election. He also mentioned that “forces of evil” might disrupt elections in the state. “It’s always high risk, whenever you’re dealing with anything in Florida relating to change,” Detzner said.[55]

County elections supervisors, who supported online voter registration, criticized Detzner for his opposition to the plan. Pinellas County Supervisor of Elections Deborah Clark said of him, “When you use specious arguments to oppose something that would benefit the people you work for, you lose all credibility.”[56]

At the 2015 Florida State Association of Supervisors of Elections conference, several county elections supervisors angrily questioned Detzner about his opposition to the online voter registration bill. Brian Corley, Pasco County’s supervisor of elections and the new president of the association, noted that Detzner had supported online voter registration in meetings and told the elections supervisors that he would speak to Governor Scott about it; later he told reporters he had never broached the subject with Scott. “You told us in that meeting you had to talk to the governor, and then you told the media multiple times you hadn’t spoken to the governor,” Corley said to Detzner. “So which is it, respectfully sir?” Duval County Supervisor of Elections Jerry Holland told Detzner, bluntly, “You owe us an apology.”[57]

An editorial in the Tampa Tribune blasted Detzner’s opposition to the bill. It suggested that given his track record, “maybe it was to be expected that Detzner would say it would be too complicated to adopt online registration in two years, though the system has been adopted without incident in 20 other states and is strongly supported by Florida’s supervisors of elections. . . . Online registration has proven popular with voters of all parties. But Detzner has consistently taken stands making it more difficult for citizens to vote. He tried to stop counties from allowing voters to drop off absentee ballots at libraries and other remote sites. He headed a flawed effort to purge voting rolls that turned into an embarrassing debacle. And in this case, we’re talking about online registration, not voting, for crying out loud.”[58]

An independent audit of Florida’s voter registration database, released several months after the voter registration bill was signed by Governor Scott, shed light on Detzner’s opposition to online voter registration: the secretary of state’s voter registration system was a mess. An editorial in the Tampa Bay Times harshly rebuked Detzner’s management of his department, noting that,  “Many drivers keep better maintenance records on their cars than the state has been keeping on its voter registration computer system,” and expressing serious concerns about “the state’s lackadaisical approach to security.” The editorial argued that Florida’s election system “needs new leadership at the top before next year’s presidential election to help avoid another national embarrassment.”[59]

The Florida Senate refused to confirm Detzner as secretary of state in the 2015 legislative session, partly as a result of his opposition to the popular, bipartisan voter registration bill. Governor Scott had to reappoint him instead.[60]


Voter Suppression in the Florida State Legislature

The Florida State Legislature has led the way introducing voter suppression policies. Advocates for voter suppression policies in the legislature pushed for Florida’s disastrous 2011 election reform bill, HB 1355, which was signed by Governor Scott. Several Florida legislators, highlighted in this report, have advocated for controversial policies in the state, including making it harder for many Floridians to vote.

State Representative Dennis Baxley

State Representative Dennis Baxley was the chief sponsor of HB 1355, the disastrous election reform bill signed into law in 2011 by Governor Scott. Baxley called the bill a “substantive cleanup” of Florida’s election code, noting that it was “very, very important that we get this right,” while it was still in the legislature.[61] The law was substantially undone after only two years.

In addition to his voter suppression efforts, Baxley has pushed other controversial legislation as well. He was the chief sponsor of the controversial “stand your ground” law that many blamed for the death of Trayvon Martin, a young, unarmed black man who was fatally shot in Florida in 2012. Baxley has proudly discussed how the bill has become a model for other states, through his involvement with the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), a corporate-funded organization that has inspired and aided the push for strict photo ID laws in states across the country. Baxley has been a frequent attendee of ALEC conferences, which he described as “a great place to share model legislation and a great place to learn what’s going on in other parts of the country.”[62]

He has come under fire a number of times for his controversial, and at times, racially charged positions. Baxley was the only legislator who opposed dropping Florida’s official state song, “The Old Folks at Home,” which refers to African Americans as “’darkies longing for the old plantation’” in the original version. He said, “Our roots are Deep South. The state song is about home that is about slaves working [sic]. They built Florida’s economy.”[63]

State Representative Eric Eisnaugle

State Representative Eric Eisnaugle was an outspoken supporter of the disastrous election reform bill, HB 1355, which was signed into law by Governor Scott. While the bill was being debated in the Florida legislature, Eisnaugle said that he supported it out of concern about voter fraud. “This is about the right to vote,” Eisnaugle claimed, “but every time fraud is allowed, your right and my right to vote is eroded.”[64]

Widespread voter fraud, both in Florida and throughout the nation, actually has been proven to be largely nonexistent. According to the Florida Department of State, only thirty-one cases of alleged voter fraud were found between January 2008 and March 2011, with only two cases resulting in arrests.[65]

Eisnaugle, however, made several outlandish claims about the prevalence of voter fraud in Florida, all of which were later proven to be false. During a debate of the bill on the House floor, Eisnaugle claimed, “(We have seen) falsifying of hundreds of registrations, including the registration of an actor who was already deceased at the time. In another case, Mickey Mouse was registered to vote. Eisnaugle also said, “In yet another case, hundreds or thousands . . . of students were registered to vote without their knowledge after they simply signed a petition, having no idea that their information was then going to be turned around and used to register their names on the voter rolls here in Florida.”

PolitiFact rated all three of Eisnaugle’s claims as “False.” Of his most memorable claim–that Mickey Mouse was registered to vote—PolitiFact explained that Eisnaugle got it wrong when he said Mickey was registered to vote. According to PolitiFact, “Mickey never got that far. Someone filled out an application for him, but the application included so many inaccuracies that–even if mice were allowed to vote in Florida–Disney’s animated superstar would have had problems. To us, the application looks more like a dumb prank than attempted voter fraud. And it was rightly rejected by the elections supervisor. We rate this claim False.”[66]

State Senator Miguel Díaz de la Portilla

State Senator Miguel Díaz de la Portilla supported HB 1355, the disastrous election reform bill signed into law by Governor Scott in 2011. After the bill was widely criticized as a voter suppression tool designed by Florida Republicans for political gain, Díaz de la Portilla described a similar bill in the Florida Senate “as voter-friendly,” noting that the bill, among its more damning provisions, made it easier for voters to request absentee ballots.[67]

Díaz de la Portilla was responsible for introducing the cuts to early voting days into the elections reform bill in the Florida Senate, arguably the most problematic provision in the 2011 bill. He claimed that he was influenced to reduce Florida’s early voting schedule after discussions with his local elections supervisor, Lester Sola, who supervised elections in Miami-Dade County at the time. However Sola, in sworn testimony in a lawsuit brought against the law, claimed he never advocated for reducing early voting to Díaz de la Portilla or anyone else. Sola stated, of himself and other Miami-Dade officials, “Our position has always been to expand the availability of early voting.” He added, “We believe that it was a good service to provide to our voters and it made our elections easier.”[68]

To explain his rationale for drastically cutting early voting in his state, Díaz de la Portilla provided only anecdotal evidence from his home county that ended up turning out to be way off-base. “Generally, early voting in Miami-Dade County has not been very efficient,” he said. “What you see more often than not is that there is a trickle of two or three people a day at a very high cost to keep those public libraries and polls open. We felt it was an efficiency measure.”[69] This was hardly the case after Díaz de la Portilla’s proposed cuts to early voting were implemented during the 2012 presidential election: voters casting their ballots on early voting days in Miami-Dade County experienced lines over six hours long at some polling locations.[70]

Sen. Díaz de la Portilla also proposed a bill that would have given Governor Scott broader power to remove county elections supervisors or put them on probation. The bill, which was proposed after the disastrous 2012 election, was characterized by critics as “an attempt to scapegoat supervisors for long lines caused mainly by legislators,” such as Díaz de la Portilla himself.[71]


Ohio’s County Elections Supervisors

On The Front Lines of Voter Suppression (and Racially Charged Commentary)

Each county in Florida has a supervisor of elections responsible for registering voters and administering elections in their county. Although they are largely bound by state-level policies, as demonstrated by the tensions and disagreements that have arisen between the supervisors and Governor Scott’s administration regarding voter suppression actions, county elections supervisors do have a limited amount of power to make elections more accessible to voters.

In some cases, however, elections supervisors have made voting more difficult, such as by cutting polling locations and limiting early voting hours. There are even several instances of sharing partisan, controversial, and even racially charged views that cast doubt on the ability to objectively administer elections.

Pinellas County Supervisor of Elections Deborah Clark

Deborah Clark has served as the Pinellas County supervisor of elections since 2000, when she was appointed by former Governor Jeb Bush.

Clark was criticized for cutting back on early voting in 2008, saying that early voting “does not increase voter turnout,” just “election costs.” Clark’s office controversially closed all but three of Pinellas County’s early voting locations in 2008, instead promoting the use of mail-in ballots, which Clark argued was a more cost-effective alternative. [72]

The Tampa Bay Times editorial board slammed Clark for limiting early voting, writing: “The Florida Legislature performed a public service when it required county elections supervisors to open early voting polling places, even if it later foolishly limited their use. But Pinellas County Supervisor of Elections Deborah Clark doesn’t like early voting or its cost, and her stubborn crusade to instead direct Pinellas voters toward mail balloting is wrongheaded. She should be making it as easy to vote as possible, not limiting options. Pinellas has only three early voting sites, all of them elections offices south of Clearwater. Compare that number of sites to Duval County, which has a smaller population but 15 early voting sites. Or Hillsborough County with 13 sites, or Orange County with 10, or Pasco County with seven. It adds up to Pinellas voters being shortchanged.”[73]

Clark’s office had faced criticism four years earlier, when Pinellas County made several election administration mistakes during the 2004 election, including miscalculating thousands of votes on a slot machine ballot initiative and misplacing 280 absentee ballots until it was too late to count them. The Tampa Bay Times, which also noted miscounted ballots and misplaced ballots in 2000 and 2001 elections, described the errors as “the latest in a series of gaffes made since Clark took over the office four years ago.”[74]

Duval County Supervisor of Elections Mike Hogan

Mike Hogan currently serves as the Duval County Supervisor of Elections, his most recent role in his long political career in Florida.

Hogan, a former Republican state representative, has served as a member of the Jacksonville City Council, as the Duval County Tax Collector, and on the Florida Taxation and Budget Reform Commission. He was also appointed by Governor Scott as chairman of the Public Employees Relations Commission in 2011, after a failed mayoral bid in Jacksonville, until he resigned in 2015 to run for Duval County elections supervisor.[75]

Before appointing him to a nearly $100,000-a-year position in Tallahassee, Governor Scott endorsed Hogan during his run for mayor of Jacksonville, which he lost to his Democratic opponent despite the city’s conservative leanings. Some political analysts connected Scott’s endorsement to Hogan’s defeat in the race, citing Scott’s unpopularity in Duval County.[76]

Hogan was endorsed by the First Coast Tea Party, the local Jacksonville Tea Party group when he ran for mayor and was featured in an online video released by the group when he ran for elections supervisor. Speaking at a Tea Party town hall during his mayoral run in 2011, Hogan described himself as “a God fearing, freedom loving, American Patriot.” He added, “I am a states’ rights advocate, a strict Constitutionalist and believe the best government is less government.”[77]

He discussed voter fraud and the need to purge the voter rolls in an interview with the First Coast Tea Party during his campaign for Duval County Supervisor of Elections. Hogan advocated for sharing voter registration data between states, claiming, “One of the things we found in 2000 when I was in the House is that a lot of folks from up north were voting up north and then coming to their winter home in Florida and also voting in Florida.” Hogan also advocated for purging the voter rolls by using a variety of available data in the state of Florida, claiming “It’s a responsibility that you must be very diligent about, because if you don’t then the rolls become polluted and you have folks voting fraudulently. Seems that there are 12.9 million voters in Florida and the estimate is about 9 percent of those records are inaccurate.”[78]

Sarasota County Supervisor of Elections Kathy Dent

Kathy Dent has served as the Sarasota County Supervisor of Elections since 2000 and is stepping down from the position after the 2016 election. Over the course of her tenure as elections supervisor, she has implemented problematic policy in Sarasota County and has faced repeated accusations of voter suppression.

Dent came under fire from civil rights groups in 2012 after proposing a plan to cut nearly 40 percent of the voting precincts in Sarasota County. Dent’s plan, which chopped the number of precincts in the county from 156 to ninety-eight, was roundly criticized by local civil rights leaders as a way to suppress minority voters. Opponents of the plan specifically pointed to the majority-black Newtown neighborhood, which had its precincts cut from six down to just one under Dent’s plan, and argued that the cuts to precincts would make it more difficult for elderly voters to cast their ballots.[79]

At a meeting of the Sarasota County commissioners, which approved Dent’s plan, Ed James, chairman of the local Coalition of African American Leadership, said that “there was no effort for community input” on the plan. Trevor D. Harvey, president of the local NAACP chapter, called it “a case of voter suppression whether intended or not.”[80]

Dent also cut early voting hours in 2014. Although in 2012 Dent had pledged to schedule ninety-six hours of early voting, the maximum allowed by state law, in 2014 Dent scheduled only the state minimum requirement of sixty-four hours. Sarasota County was the only large county in Florida that offered only the minimum number of early voting hours in 2014.[81] [82]

Hardee County Supervisor of Elections Chet Huddleston

Chet Huddleston was appointed by Governor Scott in 2015 to be the Hardee County supervisor of elections, filling a vacancy created by the resignation of the previous elections supervisor. His appointment by Scott is troubling as Huddleston has shared extremist and racially-charged views on social media.

According to his LinkedIn page, Huddleston has been involved in both the county- and state-level Republican Party.[83] He also has posted far-right conspiracy theories on social media. He appears to believe that the Sandy Hook massacre in Newtown, Connecticut, may have been a hoax by the government, sharing an article from the far-right website TruthAndAction.org, headlined “FBI Publishes Report Stating Nobody Died at Sandy Hook.” Huddleston also shared a photo on Facebook that identified potential “actors” from the Sandy Hook massacre. He wrote, “as much as I don’t want to believe it, it’s hard not to think it is AT LEAST a possibility that the whole thing was sham made up by the government.”[84]

Huddleston also has posted racially charged comments on social media. He shared a video of a black toddler misbehaving at an arcade, writing that, “If his actions are not changed very soon this kid will end up in jail.” One of Huddleston’s Facebook friends commented on the video, writing, “I’m gonna say it, here’s a future Trayvon Martin. . . . With no discipline kids like this (it’s kids of all colors before I hear any racist crap) will always go against the rules & laws. Then we have to support the children they make & run out on, plus we support them through welfare & while they’re in jail.” Huddleston “liked” the comment.[85]

He also posted a graphic with a quote allegedly attributed to Russian President Vladimir Putin, which read, “If minorities prefer Sharia Law, then we advise them to go to those places where that’s the state law. Russia does not need minorities. Minorities need Russia, and we will not grant them special privileges, or try to change our laws to fit their desires no matter how loud they yell ‘discrimination.’”[86]

Huddleston has posted offensive, far-right graphics attacking President Obama and suggesting that Republicans need guns to protect themselves from Democrats. One graphic described President Obama as “a foreign-born socialist who doesn’t have a birth certificate,” while another compared Obama to Adolf Hitler, Joseph Stalin, Mao Zedong, Kim Jong-il, and others because of his stance on gun rights.[87] Huddleston also shared a graphic that said, “Yes! I need a 30 round magazine. 1 round to take a deer and 29 to prevent the Democrats from taking it from me.”[88]


Voter Suppression Groups in Florida

True the Vote & Tampa Fair Vote

True the Vote, a Houston-based organization that advocates for voter suppression policies and engages in fear-mongering about virtually nonexistent election fraud, has worked to disenfranchise voters across the nation, as well as in Florida specifically.

Founded by Tea Party activist Catherine Engelbrecht, True the Vote has been extremely successful in promoting voter suppression policies around the country and its work has bolstered legislative efforts in at least thirty-seven states to require voter ID at the polls.[89] The organization has been criticized for intimidating minority voters at polling places where their trained poll watchers aimed to leave “no polling place unmanned” to guard against supposed election fraud. True the Vote also has advocated for a range of voter suppression policies, including large-scale voter purges.[90]

Challenging Florida Elections and Voter Registrations

True the Vote partnered with a local Tea Party Leader, Pamela Wohlschlegel, former head of the Palm Beach County Tea Party, to sue a county elections supervisor after Democrat Patrick Murphy narrowly defeated Republican Allen West in a 2012 congressional race. The organization filed a federal lawsuit against St. Lucie County Elections Supervisor Gertrude Walker, claiming that her office was denying them access to public records. True the Vote planned to review over 118,000 ballots, voter registration forms, and other election documents pertaining to the congressional election. An attorney for the group said the question it hoped to answer was, “Were people voting in the congressional election that weren’t allowed to vote?”[91]

Walker denied True the Vote’s charge of blocking access to public documents. In response to their complaint, the elections supervisor responded, “At any time subsequent to January 28, up to and including the present, Plaintiffs could have completed the document inspection by scheduling a visit via email, or telephone, or simply appearing, even announced, at Defendant’s office. . . . Plaintiffs instead filed the instant complaint.” True the Vote reached a settlement with the county elections supervisor, officially gaining access to the records it wanted.[92]

True the Vote has also repeatedly targeted Florida to purge its voter rolls of alleged ineligible voters, which the group has pushed to do in states across the country—especially in states that are competitive in federal elections.

In July 2016, True the Vote published a press release announcing the results of an investigation of Florida voter rolls. The group claimed that there were likely over 220 cases of double-voting in Florida’s largest counties and announced that the group had submitted over thirty-six thousand voter registrations in sixteen counties to county elections supervisors, alleging suspected problems with all the registrations.[93] In 2012, True the Vote claimed that it had uncovered thirty thousand dead people on the voter rolls in Florida.[94]

Tampa Vote Fair

True the Vote helped start a local voter suppression group, Tampa Vote Fair, before the 2012 election. The Tampa-based organization was a Tea Party-linked group founded by right-wing activist Kimberley Kelley, who was also a member of the Hillsborough County Republican Party Executive Committee.[95] True the Vote provided the support to Tampa Vote Fair to challenge voter registrations in an effort to purge the voter rolls before the 2012 election, and trained poll workers to monitor polling places in Hillsborough County for potential voter fraud.[96]

Tampa Vote Fair challenged the voting status of almost eighty voters in Hillsborough County shortly before the 2012 election. Kelley, who filed the challenges, claimed that most of the registered voters were felons who were ineligible to vote. Earlier that year, she had filed a list of 1,375 suspected ineligible voters that had revealed no improperly-registered voters after investigation by the state. Kelley’s second challenge included an under-oath declaration from Tampa Vote Fair that the people named in the list should not be allowed to vote, with The Nation calling the move “perhaps the most extreme steps a True the Vote–affiliated group has taken to strip voters of election rights.” An analysis of Kelley’s list revealed that 40 percent of the challenged voters were black, compared to 15 percent of Florida’s electorate.[97]

Kelley’s group also announced that it would station forty poll watchers at the largest precincts in Hillsborough County.[98] True the Vote, which helped start Tampa Vote Fair, has been criticized nationally for the aggressive tactics of its trained poll watchers, including for sending white poll watchers to majority African American neighborhoods. Voting rights groups have noted that white poll watchers in minority neighborhoods can have a disenfranchising effect on voters even if there is no direct interaction.[99]

Tampa Vote Fair is not registerd with the Florida Secretary of State, does not maintain an active Internet presence, and no longer appears to be an active organization.

True the Vote: Hardly “Nonpartisan”

True the Vote claims that it is focused only on ensuring fair elections and is not partisan. The group’s founder, Catherine Engelbrecht, has said, “This has never been and never will be about politics. . . . This is not a partisan effort.”[100] However, the partisan motivations behind the right-wing group are clear.

Claims of impartiality notwithstanding, True the Vote has been criticized on a national level for focusing its poll watchers and voter registration challenges on minority communities that traditionally vote Democratic. Even Engelbrecht acknowledges the motivations behind her group’s effort to fight alleged election fraud: “You don’t need a whole lot of election fraud; you just need a little bit in the right places to swing an election.”[101]


Conclusion

Officials at all levels of Florida’s government have engaged in what amounts to a long-term assault on voting rights. Voter suppression policies—cuts to early and weekend voting, highly problematic voter roll purges, and other policies that make voting less accessible— disproportionately affect minority voters who should be encouraged to turn out and exercise their constitutional rights to vote.

Despite what some Florida officials have expressed, voting is a right, not a privilege. These officials are failing all Florida voters when they engage in partisan and sometimes racially charged rhetoric while serving in roles intended to impartially administer elections and protect voting rights. These policies do not simply make it more difficult for Floridians to vote–they also suppress the constitutional rights of largely minority voters, all for the purpose of partisan, political gain.


End Notes

[1] Wade Payson-Denney, “So, Who Really Won? What the Bush v. Gore Studies Showed,” CNN, October 31, 2015, http://www.cnn.com/2015/10/31/politics/bush-gore-2000-election-results-studies/.

[2] “Voter Identification Requirements,” National Conference of State Legislatures website, last modified July 27, 2016, accessed August 18, 2016, http://www.ncsl.org/research/elections-and-campaigns/voter-id.aspx.

[3] “Election Day Voting,” Florida Division of Elections website, accessed August 18, 2016, http://dos.myflorida.com/elections/for-voters/voting/election-day-voting/.

[4] “Florida History: Voter ID at the Polls,” Florida Division of Elections website, July 2016, accessed August 18, 2016, https://soe.dos.state.fl.us/pdf/DE_Guide_0006-Florida_History-Voter_ID_at_the_polls.pdf.

[5] Sari Horwitz, “Getting a Photo ID So You Can Vote Is Easy. Unless You’re Poor, Black, Latino or Elderly,” Washington Post, May 23, 2016, https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/courts_law/getting-a-photo-id-so-you-can-vote-is-easy-unless-youre-poor-black-latino-or-elderly/2016/05/23/8d5474ec-20f0-11e6-8690-f14ca9de2972_story.html.

[6] “Oppose Voter ID Legislation – Fact Sheet,” American Civil Liberties Union website, accessed August 24, 2016, https://www.aclu.org/oppose-voter-id-legislation-fact-sheet.

[7] “Vote-by-Mail (formerly Absentee Voting),” Florida Department of State, accessed October 5, 2016, http://dos.myflorida.com/elections/for-voters/voting/absentee-voting/; Matt Dixon, “Democrats sue Florida over vote-by-mail verification,” Politico, October 3, 2014, http://www.politico.com/states/florida/story/2016/10/democrats-sue-florida-over-vote-by-mail-verification-106031.

[8] Gray Rohrer, “Give Florida voters chance to fix vote-by-mail ballot, judge rules,” Orlando (FL) Sentinel, October 16, 2016, http://www.sun-sentinel.com/news/florida/sfl-voter-signature-ruling-story.html.

[9] Steve Bousquet, “Gov. Rick Scott with ‘Some Hesitation’ Signs Online Voter Registration Law,” Tampa Bay (FL) Times, May 15, 2015, http://www.tampabay.com/news/politics/stateroundup/gov-rick-scott-with-some-hesitation-signs-online-voter-registration-law/2229827.

[10] Steve Bousquet, “Gov. Rick Scott Signs Controversial Election Bill into Law,” Tampa Bay (FL) Times, May 19, 2011, http://www.tampabay.com/news/politics/stateroundup/gov-rick-scott-signs-controversial-election-bill-into-law/1170547.

[11] Janet Zink, “E-mails, Phone Calls Flood into Governor’s Office on Elections Bill, SunRail,” Tampa Bay (FL) Times, May 17, 2011, http://www.tampabay.com/blogs/the-buzz-florida-politics/content/e-mails-phone-calls-flood-governors-office-elections-bill-sunrail/2037677.

[12] Steve Bousquet, “Scott Signs Controversial Bill,”

[13] Ibid.

[14] Kathleen Haughney, “Florida Senate to Vote on Elections Law Thursday,” Orlando (FL) Sentinel, May 4, 2011, http://articles.orlandosentinel.com/2011-05-04/news/fl-election-bill-in-senate-20110504_1_early-voting-voter-fraud-election-fraud.

[15] Dara Kam and John Lantigua, “Architect of Felon Voter Purge Behind Florida’s New Limits,” Palm Beach (FL) Post, October 28, 2012, http://www.palmbeachpost.com/news/news/state-regional-govt-politics/architect-of-felon-voter-purge-behind-floridas-new/nSp9t/.

[16] Ibid.

[17] Dara Kam and John Lantigua, “Former Florida GOP Leaders Say Voter Suppression Was Reason They Pushed New Election Law,” Palm Beach (FL) Post, November 25, 2012, http://www.palmbeachpost.com/news/news/state-regional-govt-politics/early-voting-curbs-called-power-play/nTFDy/.

[18] Ibid.

[19] Ibid.

[20] League of Women Voters of Florida Press Release, Accessed September 22, 2016, http://thefloridavoter.org/files/download/736

[21] Jane Sutton, “Judge Blocks Part of ‘Harsh’ Florida Voting Law,” Reuters, May 31, 2012, http://www.reuters.com/article/us-usa-voting-florida-idUSBRE84U1GU20120531.

[22] Sutton, “Judge Blocks Part of Law.”

[23] Lizette Alvarez, “Court Approves Schedule for Florida Early Voting,” New York Times, September 13, 2012, http://www.nytimes.com/2012/09/14/us/politics/court-approves-early-voting-schedule-in-florida.html.

[24] Ibid.

[25] Amy Sherman, “Eric Holder Signed Off on Florida’s 2011 Early Voting Law, Rick Scott Says,” PolitiFact Florida, August 4, 2014,  http://www.politifact.com/florida/statements/2014/aug/04/rick-scott/eric-holder-signed-floridas-2011-early-voting-law-/; and Alvarez, “Court Approves Schedule.”

[26] Alvarez, “Court Approves Schedule.”

[27] Bob King, “Confusion Reigns Among Fla. Voters,” Politico, November 6, 2012, http://www.politico.com/story/2012/11/calm-in-fla-at-start-of-election-day-083401.

[28] Scott Powers and David Damron, “Analysis: 201,000 in Florida Didn’t Vote Because of Long Lines,” Orlando (FL) Sentinel, January 29, 2013, http://articles.orlandosentinel.com/2013-01-29/business/os-voter-lines-statewide-20130118_1_long-lines-sentinel-analysis-state-ken-detzner.

[29] Ibid.

[30] “Early Voting Plagued by Long Lines,” CBS Miami, November 1, 2012, http://miami.cbslocal.com/2012/11/01/early-voting-plagued-by-long-lines/.

[31] Patricia Mazzei and Steve Bousquet, “Gov. Rick Scott Not Likely to Extend Early Voting Hours,” Miami (FL) Herald, November 1, 2012, http://www.miamiherald.com/news/politics-government/article1944192.html; and Luke Johnson, “Rick Scott On Decision Not To Extend Early Voting: ‘The Right Thing Happened,’” Huffington Post, November 9, 2012, http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/11/09/rick-scott-early-voting_n_2101566.html.

[32] Lizette Alvarez, “Florida Governor Backs Voting Changes,” New York Times, January 17, 2013, http://www.nytimes.com/2013/01/18/us/politics/florida-governor-backs-changes-in-election-law.html.

[33] Rachel Weiner, “Florida’s Voter Purge Explained,” Washington Post, June 18, 2012, https://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/the-fix/post/floridas-voter-purge-explained/2012/06/18/gJQAhvcNlV_blog.html.

[34] Amy Sherman, “MoveOn Says Gov. Rick Scott ‘Tried to Kick 180,000 People off the Voter Rolls,’” PolitiFact Florida, July 10, 2012, http://www.politifact.com/florida/statements/2012/jul/10/moveon/moveon-says-gov-rick-scott-tried-kick-180000-peopl/.

[35] Marc Caputo, “Gov. Rick Scott Looks Ready to Fight DOJ over Voter Purge,” Miami (FL) Herald, June 5, 2012, http://www.miamiherald.com/news/politics-government/article1940392.html; and Marc Caputo, “Rick Scott: State Is ‘Absolutely Not’ Targeting Minorities in Noncitizen Voter Purge,” Naked Politics (blog), Miami (FL) Herald, June 1, 2012, http://miamiherald.typepad.com/nakedpolitics/2012/06/rick-scott-state-is-absolutely-not-targeting-minorities-in-noncitizen-voter-purge.html.

[36] Ryan J. Reilly, “Rick Scott Purging Eligible Voters From Florida’s Rolls,” Talking Points Memo, May 30, 2012, http://talkingpointsmemo.com/muckraker/rick-scott-purging-eligible-voters-from-florida-s-rolls.

[37] Brittany Wallman and Kathleen Haughney, “Scott Blasted as Vet’s Right to Vote Doubted,” Broward (FL) Sun-Sentinel, May 30, 2012, http://articles.sun-sentinel.com/2012-05-30/news/fl-voter-purge-war-hero-20120529_1_voter-purge-disenfranchise-early-voting-periods.

[38] Marc Caputo, Patricia Mazzei, and Anna Edgerton, “Florida Sends Election Departments List of 198 Potential Noncitizens: Some M ay Have Illegally Voted,” Miami (FL) Herald, September 26, 2012, http://www.miamiherald.com/news/politics-government/article1943086.html.

[39] Brittany Wallman, Scott Powers, and John Maines, “Scott’s Voter Purge on Hold,” Broward (FL) Sun-Sentinel, June 2, 2012.

[40] Marc Caputo, “Rick Scott: ‘Absolutely Not.’”

[41] Nick Wing, “Rick Scott Defends Voter Purge As Necessary ‘To Have Fair Elections,’” Huffington Post, June 4, 2012, http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/06/04/rick-scott-voter-purge-florida_n_1568783.html.

[42] Gary Fineout, “Feds Order Florida to Halt Voter Purge,” Sarasota (FL) Herald-Tribune, June 1, 2012, http://politics.heraldtribune.com/2012/06/01/feds-order-florida-to-halt-voter-purge/.

[43] Rachel Maddow, “Rick Scott Vows to Keep His Voter Purge Going,” Rachel Maddow Show Blog, MSNBC, June 11, 2012,Ap http://www.msnbc.com/rachel-maddow-show/rick-scott-vows-keep-his-voter-purge.

[44] Maya Rhodan, “Why the Next Florida Voter Purge Will Be Different From the Last,” Time online, August 9, 2013, http://swampland.time.com/2013/08/09/why-the-next-florida-voter-purge-will-be-different-than-the-last/.

[45] Steve Bousquet, “Florida Gov. Rick Scott’s 2012 Voter Purge Violated Federal Law, Court Rules,” Tampa Bay (FL) Times, April 1, 2014, http://www.tampabay.com/news/politics/stateroundup/appeals-court-rules-florida-voter-purge-violated-federal-law/2173054.

[46] Lizette Alvarez, “Ruling Revives Florida Review of Voting Rolls,” New York Times, August 7, 2013, http://www.nytimes.com/2013/08/08/us/ruling-revives-florida-review-of-voting-rolls.html.

[47] Steve Bousquet and Amy Sherman, “Florida Halts Purge of Noncitizens from Voter Rolls,” Tampa Bay (FL) Times, March 27, 2014, http://www.tampabay.com/news/politics/elections/florida-halts-purge-of-noncitizens-from-voter-rolls/2172206.

[48] Peter Wallsten, “Fla. Republicans Make It Harder for Ex-Felons to Vote,” Washington Post, March 9, 2011, http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2011/03/08/AR2011030806672.html; and “Felon Voting Rights,” National Conference of State Legislatures website, April 25, 2016, accessed August 18, 2016, http://www.ncsl.org/research/elections-and-campaigns/felon-voting-rights.aspx.

[49] Dan Sweeney, et al., “Florida Among Nation’s Toughest Places to Have Voting Rights Restored,” Orlando (FL) Sun-Sentinel, January 25, 2015, http://www.sun-sentinel.com/news/florida/sfl-felon-voting-rights-20150121-htmlstory.html.

[50] Editorial Board, “Florida’s Rights Restoration Slowdown,” Tampa Bay (FL) Times, November 21, 2014, http://www.tampabay.com/opinion/editorials/editorial-floridas-rights-restoration-slowdown/2207467.

[51] Editorial Board, “Felons Should Have Civil Rights Automatically Restored,” Tampa Bay (FL) Times, January 20, 2013, http://www.tampabay.com/opinion/editorials/felons-should-have-civil-rights-automatically-restored/1271267.

[52] Marc Caputo, “How Rick Scott’s Noncitizen Voter Purge Started Small and Then Blew Up,” Miami (FL) Herald, June 12, 2012, http://www.miamiherald.com/news/politics-government/article1940542.html.

[53] Steve Bousquet, “U.S.: Florida Fails ‘Burden of Proof’ on Vote Law Changes,” Naked Politics (blog), Miami (FL) Herald), March 23, 2012, http://miamiherald.typepad.com/nakedpolitics/2012/03/us-florida-fails-burden-of-proof-on-vote-law-changes.html.

[54] Alvarez, “Court Approves Schedule.”

[55] Steve Bousquet, “Florida Legislators Tell Secretary of State Ken Detzner to ‘Get the Drift’ and Implement Online Voting Options,” Bradenton (FL) Herald, April 16, 2015, http://www.bradenton.com/news/politics-government/state-politics/article34877676.html.

[56] Bousquet, “’Some Hesitation.’“

[57] Adam C. Smith, “Elections Supervisors Call Out Secretary of State Ken Detzner,” Tampa Bay (FL) Times, June 10, 2015, http://www.tampabay.com/blogs/the-buzz-florida-politics/elections-supervisors-call-out-secretary-of-state-ken-detzner/2233116.

[58] Editorial Board, “Worry About Voters, Not Bureaucrats,” Tampa (FL) Tribune, April 11, 2015, http://www.tbo.com/list/news-opinion-editorials/editorial-worry-about-voters-not-bureaucrats-20150411/.

[59] Editorial Board, “Florida Needs New Elections Leader,” Tampa Bay (FL) Times, July 28, 2015, http://www.tampabay.com/opinion/editorials/editorial-florida-needs-new-elections-leader/2239070.

[60] Steve Bousquet, “Senate Snub Prompts Gov. Rick Scott to Reappoint Sixteen Agency Heads,” Tampa Bay (FL) Times, May 4, 2015, http://www.tampabay.com/news/politics/stateroundup/senate-snub-prompts-gov-rick-scott-to-reappoint-16-agency-heads/2228269.

[61] Steve Bousquet, “GOP Bill Revises Rules on Voting,” Tampa Bay (FL) Times, April 2, 2011.

[62] Steve Bousquet and Janet Zink, “Dozens of Florida Republicans at ALEC Legislative Conference Courtesy of Taxpayers, Lobbyists,” Bradenton (FL) Herald, August 4, 2011, http://www.bradenton.com/news/article34518603.html.

[63] Joe Follick, “State Rep. Baxley Goes His Own Way,” Sarasota (FL) Herald-Tribune, March 11, 2007, http://www.heraldtribune.com/news/20070311/state-rep-baxley-goes-his-own-way.

[64] John Kennedy, “House GOP Says Election Laws Overhaul Targets Fraud; Dems Say It Targets Them” April 21, 2011, Palm Beach (FL) Post, http://www.palmbeachpost.com/news/news/state-regional/house-gop-says-election-laws-overhaul-targets-frau/nLrpc/.

[65] Haughney, “Florida Senate to Vote.”

[66] Aaron Sharockman, “Mickey Mouse Was Registered to Vote in Florida, Republican House  Member Claims,” PolitiFact Florida, April 26, 2011, http://www.politifact.com/florida/statements/2011/apr/26/eric-eisnaugle/mickey-mouse-was-registered-vote-florida-republica/.

[67] Steve Bousquet, “Florida Republicans Push to Cut Early Voting,” Miami (FL) Herald, April 15, 2011.

[68] Dara Kam and John Lantigua, “Miami-Dade Lawmaker First Proposed Cuts in Early Voting Days,” Palm Beach (FL) Post, December 12, 2012, http://www.palmbeachpost.com/news/news/state-regional-govt-politics/miami-dade-lawmaker-first-proposed-cuts-in-early-v/nTTCn/.

[69] Steve Bousquet, “Florida Republicans Push.”

[70] “Early Voting Plagued By Long Lines,” CBS Miami, November 1, 2012, http://miami.cbslocal.com/2012/11/01/early-voting-plagued-by-long-lines/.

[71] Dara Kam, “GOP Proposal: Give Gov. Scott Power to Remove County Election Supervisors If Problems Arise,” Palm Beach (FL) Post, February 5, 2013.

[72] Aaron Sharockman, “Flexibility in Early Voting Means Possibly Less Hours to Vote,” PolitiFact Florida, May 23, 2011, http://www.politifact.com/florida/statements/2011/may/23/kurt-browning/flexibility-early-voting-means-possibly-less-hours/.

[73] Editorial Board, “Pinellas Wrongly Limits Early Voting,” Tampa Bay (FL) Times, September 20, 2008, http://www.tampabay.com/opinion/editorials/pinellas-wrongly-limits-early-voting/818771.

[74] Michael Sandler, “Election Errors Lead to Changes,” Tampa Bay (FL) Times, December 7, 2004, http://www.sptimes.com/2004/12/07/Tampabay/Election_errors_lead_.shtml.

[75] Katie Sanders, “Gov. Rick Scott Appoints Defeated Jacksonville Mayoral Candidate Mike Hogan to State Commission,” Tampa Bay (FL) Times, July 27, 2011, http://www.tampabay.com/blogs/the-buzz-florida-politics/content/gov-rick-scott-appoints-defeated-jacksonville-mayoral-candidate-mike-hogan-state-commission.

[76] Abel Harding, “Rick Scott May Have Proven Toxic for Mike Hogan’s Mayoral Campaign,” Florida (Jacksonville) Times-Union, May 19, 2011, http://jacksonville.com/opinion/blog/403455/abel-harding/2011-05-19/rick-scott-may-have-proven-toxic-mike-hogans-mayoral.

[77] Rachel Leitao, “First Coast Tea Party Backs Mike Hogan for Mayor of Jacksonville,” First Coast (Jacksonville, FL) News, March 3, 2011, http://jacksonvillenorthestates.firstcoastnews.com/news/politics/first-coast-tea-party-backs-mike-hogan-mayor-jacksonville/51278.

[78] First Coast Tea Party YouTube channel, “2015 First Coast Tea Party Candidate Interview: Duval County Supervisor of Elections – Mike Hogan,” YouTube video, 4:38, posted March 3, 2015, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mBvrcspgUqo.

[79] Carrie Wells, “Critics Rip Plan to Close Dozens of Polling Places,” Sarasota (FL) Herald-Tribune, May 22, 2012, http://www.heraldtribune.com/article/20120522/ARTICLE/120529891.

[80] Ibid.; Carol Sakowitz, “Dent Rocked by Comments against New Precincts.” North Port (FL) Sun, May 23, 2012.

[81] Carrie Wells, “Elections Supervisor Kathy Dent Taking Precinct Criticisms to Heart,” Sarasota (FL) Herald-Tribune, May 27, 2012, http://www.heraldtribune.com/article/20120527/ARTICLE/120529616/2055/.

[82] Steven Bousquet, “Early voting and ‘souls to the polls’ schedules will vary widely.” Tampa Bay Times, October 6, 2014, http://www.tampabay.com/blogs/the-buzz-florida-politics/early-voting-and-souls-to-the-polls-schedules-will-vary-widely/2200886

[83] Chet Huddleston LinkedIn page, accessed August 24, 2016, https://www.linkedin.com/in/chet-huddleston-9b006b38.

[84] Chet Huddleston Facebook page, status of January 3, 2015 (10:37 p.m.), accessed August 24, 2016, https://www.facebook.com/ChetHuddleston/posts/10203578466559385; Chet Huddleston Facebook page, status of December 15, 2013 (1:10 a.m.), accessed August 24, 2016, https://www.facebook.com/ChetHuddleston/posts/10201329065445763.

[85] Chet Huddleston Facebook page, status of August 12, 2014 (10:52 p.m.), accessed August 24, 2016, https://www.facebook.com/ChetHuddleston/posts/10202704418708735.

[86] Chet Huddleston Facebook page, status of October 24, 2013 (9:35 a.m.), accessed August 24, 2016, https://www.facebook.com/ChetHuddleston/posts/10200986188474053.

[87] Chet Huddleston Facebook page, status of October 23, 2014 (8:53 p.m.), accessed August 24, 2016, https://www.facebook.com/ChetHuddleston/posts/10200983961298375; Chet Huddleston Facebook page, status of February 18, 2014 (12:36 p.m.), accessed August 24, 2016, https://www.facebook.com/ChetHuddleston/posts/10201709087986089.

[88] Chet Huddleston Facebook page, status of November 1, 2013 (10:34 a.m.), accessed August 24, 2016, https://www.facebook.com/ChetHuddleston/posts/10201034757568250.

[89] Jane Mayer, “The Voter-Fraud Myth: The Man Who Has Stoked Fear About Impostors at the Polls,” The New Yorker, October 29, 2012, http://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2012/10/29/the-voter-fraud-myth.

[90] AJ Vicens and Natasha Khan, “Voters Feel Intimidated by Election Observers,” Tucson (AZ) Sentinel, August 20, 2012, http://www.tucsonsentinel.com/nationworld/report/082012_voting_observers/voters-feel-intimidated-by-election-observers/.

[91] George Bennett, “Revisiting Murphy-West Battleground, Conservative Group to Examine St. Lucie County Ballots,” Palm Beach (FL) Post, May 10, 2013, http://www.mypalmbeachpost.com/news/news/local-govt-politics/revisiting-murphy-west-battleground-conservative-g/nXnbs/.

[92]  Ibid.; and Jonathan Mattise, “Gertrude Walker, St. Lucie County Elections Supervisor, Responds to Voter Group’s Lawsuit,” WPTV West Palm Beach (FL), February 22, 2013, http://www.wptv.com/news/region-st-lucie-county/gertrude-walker-st-lucie-county-elections-supervisor-responds-to-voter-groups-lawsuit.

[93] True the Vote, “Study: 36K FL Voter Registrations Flagged Duplicate, Dead, and Illegal Addresses,” news release, July 6, 2016,  https://truethevote.org/study-36k-fl-voter-registrations-flagged-duplicate-dead-and-illegal-addresses.

[94] Ledyard King, “Lawmakers Gear Up for Ballot Access Fight,” Fort Myers (FL) News-Press, December 5, 2013.

[95] William March, “Some wary of Hillsborough poll-watching group with tea party ties,” Tampa Bay Times, April 10, 2012, http://www.tbo.com/news/politics/some-wary-of-hillsborough-poll-watching-group-with-tea-party-ties-390346.

[96] Ibid.; and Brentin Mock and Voting Rights Watch, “Tea Party Group Blocks Florida Voters, Stops Water Handouts at Polls,” The Nation, November 5, 2012, https://www.thenation.com/article/tea-party-group-blocks-florida-voters-stops-water-handouts-polls/.

[97] Brentin Mock and Voting Rights Watch, “Tea Party Group Blocks Florida Voters, Stops Water Handouts at Polls,” The Nation, November 5, 2012, https://www.thenation.com/article/tea-party-group-blocks-florida-voters-stops-water-handouts-polls/.

[98] Michael Van Sickler, “As Election Day Nears, Groups Brace for a Showdown at the Polls,” Bradenton (FL) Herald, November 1, 2012, http://www.bradenton.com/news/politics-government/article34565928.html.

[99] Mariah Blake, “The Ballot Cops,” The Atlantic, September 19, 2012; and AJ Vicens and Natasha Khan, “Election Observers Proliferate at Polls,” Washington Post, August 24, 2012, https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/election-observers-proliferate-at-polls/2012/08/24/1452c3ba-ed4f-11e1-a80b-9f898562d010_story.html.

[100] Barry Horstman, “Group to Sue for Purge of the Rolls,” Cincinnati (OH) Enquirer, August, 27, 2012.

[101] Matthew Boyle, “Chris McDaniel Rushes to Review Ballots from Tuesday’s Election,” Breitbart, June 27, 2014, http://www.breitbart.com/big-government/2014/06/27/mcdaniel-rushes-to-review-ballots-from-tuesday-s-election/.

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