Editorials

Say No to Trump push for voter data; he wants to suppress Floridians’ right to vote

Miami Herald Editorial Board

Trump commission on election integrity wants information about Florida voters like these, shown in 2016.
Trump commission on election integrity wants information about Florida voters like these, shown in 2016. Miami Herald

Hell, no.

That is the one and only response that the state of Florida should give the Presidential Advisory Commission for Election Integrity, which last week requested all 50 states to provide it with information about each and every voter.

Just the very name of this commission, created by executive order by President Trump, is laughable. The subtext of its mission, to suppress some — and only some — voters’ access to the polls is serious, and dangerous.

To be clear, rampant, unbridled vote fraud does not exist.

No matter, at least to the president, who still is fantasizing that he was denied the popular vote in 2016. His commission last week sent a letter to the states asking for a list of the names, party affiliations, addresses and — get this — the voting histories of all voters, if state law allows it to be public. That’s 200 million voters, potentially. How can they trust, amid real cybersecurity and identity theft concerns that the federal government can protect such personal data?

The commission gave secretaries of state about two weeks to provide voter information, including dates of birth, the last four digits of voters’ Social Security numbers and any information about felony convictions and military status.

The vast majority of states didn’t need two weeks. As of Tuesday, at least 41 states — led by Democrats and Republicans alike — had refused to provide the information. Florida, however, was still undecided. Why?

President Trump created this commission based on a lie — that votes were compromised across the nation. That vote fraud is rampant. That he was robbed.

These assertions have been debunked, even as GOP-controlled state legislatures in several states have taken steps to make it difficult for African Americans, Hispanics and young people — any not in the R column — to cast votes. The courts have struck down unfair voter ID laws. But there is evidence that in some states, the suppression efforts worked, unfortunately.

Let’s be clear about this, too: There is no way that this commission is not going to “find” rampant voter fraud, despite studies to the contrary. This would give states that are so inclined the go-ahead to double down on stifling unfriendly voters’ access to the polls. This would be a disgrace.

Florida has its own insidious history of suppressing the black vote especially, a history of which it should be ashamed. And one that should inform how it moves forward. Ex-felons who have successfully paid their debt to society still have to jump through an unconscionable number hoops to have their voting rights restored. It’s a vestige of Jim Crow unworthy of this state; purges of the voter rolls, under both Govs. Jeb Bush and Rick Scott ensnared African-American Floridians who had every right to vote; curtailing the number of early-voting sites and the hours of operation, forcing interminable lines, especially in black neighborhoods.

It all tracks with what Jim Greer, a former state Republican Party chair, said in a 2012 deposition about a meeting with party leaders: “I was upset because the political consultants and staff were talking about voter suppression and keeping blacks from voting.”

Greer, of course, was facing corruption charges when he spilled these beans. He had every incentive to make himself look good. Still, the state GOP’s actions over the years in the Legislature and the governor’s office bolster his assertions.

This commission is working on behalf of a president who swears he won the popular vote — he didn’t; who sat silent as his more-rabid supporters threatened to intimidate minority voters; who will go to any lengths to thwart the probes into allegations that Russia intervened on his behalf in the 2016 election.

Florida must confront where the true fraud sits.

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