Nobody Here But Us Anti-Fraud Crusaders

The feigned puzzlement emanating from Rick Scott’s full-time professional franchise-reducers in Florida to a Justice Department letter demanding the opportunity to review its latest voter-roll “purge” as a potential violation of the Voting Rights Act is pretty hilarious.

In a statement, [Florida Secretary of State spokesman] Chris Cate said the decision to remove names from the list was essential to preventing non-citizens from casting ballots illegally.

“The Department of State has a duty under both state and federal laws to ensure that Florida’s voter registration rolls are current and accurate. Therefore, identifying ineligible voters is something we are always doing,” Cate wrote.

He added that the action was not meant to prevent minority voters from voting.

“The political party and race of the potential non-citizens is not a factor at all in our process,” Cate wrote. “We are only concerned about identifying ineligible voters and making sure they can’t cast a ballot.”

Yeah, right: Florida has nothing to hide or explain. That’s why the State joined other Republican-governed jurisdictions in seeking to strike down the Voting Rights Act provision requiring federal oversight of changes in voting procedures in places where Jim Crow used to reign.

This is one of those topics where it would be nice for the news media to act a little less stupidly. Republicans undertake multiple efforts to make voting harder for the very people the Voting Rights Act was intended to protect, citing a “voter fraud” threat they have never been able to document. Then they cry foul when called to account for it, even as they seek to undermine or eliminate the laws keeping them from doing whatever they want to harass inconvenient voters. Yet much of the coverage falls right into the “he said she said” groove that treats unambiguous anti-voting actions and imaginary fraud threats as equally credible.

But at a minimum, we should demand a little more incredulity at the spectacle of Republicans in Florida, of all places, expressing shock that anyone would question their motives in conducting an election-year purge of the voting rolls. 2000 really wasn’t that long ago.

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Ed Kilgore

Ed Kilgore, a Monthly contributing editor, is a columnist for the Daily Intelligencer, New York magazine’s politics blog, and the managing editor for the Democratic Strategist.