Did the Anti-Voter Fraud Crusade Undermine the GOP in Florida?

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The Sunshine State news last week was dark enough for Republicans even before the voter registration scandal hit the headlines. A Quinnipiac poll gave President Obama 53% to just 44% for GOP candidate Mitt Romney in the critical swing state of Florida, which seemed a neck-and-neck race just a few weeks ago. That body blow has since been followed by revelations that a consulting firm contracted by the Republican Party of Florida to register GOP voters is under investigation by state and local officials for election fraud.

The irony is stunning: like Republican establishments in numerous other states, the Florida GOP has declared itself the voter fraud watchdog of the 2012 election. Almost since taking office 21 months ago, conservative Republican Governor Rick Scott has pushed through tight restrictions on voter-registration groups, ramped up efforts to purge rolls of ineligible voters, made it harder for felons to regain voter rights and scaled back early voting. As a result, growing disclosures that the Arizona-based Strategic Allied Consulting—which the Republican National Committee required state parties like Florida’s to hire—may be guilty of turning in hundreds of fraudulent registrations in more than 10 counties, and is also being probed in other states, is a major embarrassment. (Strategic insists the problems are isolated and under control, but the Republicans have fired the firm.)

Worse for Romney, it makes it much harder for him to climb out of the sinkhole that has suddenly seemed to open up under his Florida campaign. As the Miami Herald’s Marc Caputo points out this week, Florida Republicans trail the state’s Democrats in new registrations this year by almost 200,000 voters. Overall, they have 443,166 fewer registered voters than Florida Dems – and with less than a week to go before the registration deadline for the Nov. 6 election, and with no registration contractor now, the state GOP will be unable to narrow that gap for its presidential contender.

Granted, voter registration shenanigans are no more an exclusively Republican problem than sex scandals are. (Florida officials say they’re also probing questionable registration forms turned in by the Latino advocacy organization La Raza, which denies any wrongdoing.) But like the latter, what usually tarnishes the GOP more is the hypocrisy, and that’s glaringly obvious in the Strategic case – especially after the successful, if less than honest, conservative crusade to destroy ACORN, the admittedly controversial liberal activist group and voter registration powerhouse. (It is now defunct after covert videos recorded in 2009 suggested but never proved criminal acts.)

A larger question is whether the GOP’s anti-election fraud campaign, Scott’s in particular, is hurting the party, Romney in particular. Earlier this year, polls showed majority support in Florida for Scott’s voter-roll purge. But controversy and public unease have dogged the project. Of the more than 2,500 names plucked from the rolls, for example, most were found to be Hispanics and other minorities—and only a handful of them were actually deemed ineligible voters under closer review. Critics call the effort just another not-so-veiled GOP effort to reduce voting by minorities and other Democratic constituencies. In August a federal judge struck down Scott’s voter-registration rules, including the mere 48-hour deadline for delivering completed forms, as “harsh and impractical.” The Obama Justice Department has challenged the legality of the voter-roll purges.

All of which has led many Floridians to ask why Scott is devoting so much time, toil and resources to an issue most U.S. electoral experts agree is not a big problem in the first place. And that, in turn, has simply reignited a chronic criticism of Scott’s governorship—that his right-wing Tea Party politics matter more than addressing the problems of a recession-racked state with an 8.8% unemployment rate.

But Scott, already one of the nation’s least popular governors, has decided to double down. Last week, after a brief hiatus in which he got the Department of Homeland Security to share a more reliable federal voter-roll data base, Scott forged ahead anew with the purge. Meanwhile, his approval rating currently stands at a lowly 38%, with 50% disapproval. Moreover, a Miami Herald/Tampa Bay Times/Bay News 9 poll shows Scott losing the 2014 gubernatorial race to both his 2010 Democratic rival, Alex Sink, and former Governor Charlie Crist, a Republican-turned-independent who may soon turn Democrat.

Scott and Romney aren’t the only Republican pols withering in Florida. Just two years after the Tea Party revolt decimated the peninsula’s Democrats in 2010 mid-term elections, many top GOP candidates are on the ropes. Conservative U.S. Representative Connie Mack trails incumbent Democratic Senator Bill Nelson by double digits in recent polls; freshman GOP Representative Allen West, Florida’s first black Republican congressman since Reconstruction, is behind Democratic challenger Patrick Murphy by nine points; and freshman GOP Representative David Rivera, under a federal campaign finance investigation, is losing by nine to Democrat Joe Garcia.

The Strategic debacle, as a result, is the last thing Romney and the GOP needed in Florida – especially with polls showing Obama with healthy leads in other battleground states like Ohio. In many of those states, in fact, judges keep striking down new Republican-led voter restriction laws, including the Pennsylvania voter ID measure that a state court blocked on Tuesday. One shouldn’t attribute too much of the Sunshine State woes to the anti-voter fraud drive; it’s just one component of what’s ailing Romney and the GOP, including Romney’s own gaffes. But if Republicans were counting on strategies like the voter-roll purge to give them an electoral edge, it may well have backfired.

MORE: Special GOP Issue: Party of No

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Gary Downing
Gary Downing

I would sure think there would be a conflict of interest on that company doing anything around the voters if its owned by Romney.. or if he even has an interest in it. 

Fatesrider
Fatesrider

While I know that 92% o f Americans would disagree, my personal feeling is that if you can't present a DD-214 that refers to your service to the voter registration offices, you shouldn't be allowed to vote.

In my opinion, the only people who should be allowed to vote are those who have put their lives on the line for their country in the first place.  Everyone else is merely riding on the backs of the sacrifices of those who have served and do NOT understand their level of commitment to their country.  The only patriots in the United States are those who put their country ahead of their own lives.  In my opinion, only THEY have the RIGHT to decide on who should lead the country.  A right gained by self sacrifice, service, sweat and blood.

The Constitution says otherwise, and I honor that.  That is why I served.  That is why I bled.  That is why I killed.  But as an American vet with the right to express my opinion, I can't help but say I more respect those who have served and think of those who have not as those who would rather put their needs ahead of the needs of the country.  The way Americans in general vote support that opinion.

My preferences will never be put to a vote and that's fine with me.  My opinions are that of one man and not the majority.   But if the balloon ever goes up by those who seek only their own power, their own agenda and their own ideology by force or violence, I, along with those who  have served before, will rise up as one to defend the democratically elected, constitutionally designated and rightful government of the United States.  That is why we served, that is why we sweated, that is why we bled and that is why we died.  We hope that day never comes.  But if push comes to shove, those of us who have served would rather die for our country than support an ideology that promotes ignorance, bigotry, hatred and lies to forward their own goals.

Take that as you will. 

If you go to war against the United States of America, foreign or domestic, we who have served her before will answer her call again.

Josephine Blow
Josephine Blow

Can't wait to dump Scott.  Good riddance to bad rubbish.

COfoEVA
COfoEVA

The only voter fraud is being committed by the GOP.  Of course this will hurt their campaign.   people can see they are trying to cheat and showing up in force to make sure their registration is valid.

Dan5404
Dan5404

Of course their hypocritical campaign will hurt them.  First, research all over the country has shown there is virtually no voting problem, yet the GOP creates a bigger one themselves through crooked registration and voter suppression.  Thei racist and hateful campaign is showing them for what they and Romney really are.

bobell
bobell

"suggested but never proved" allegations against ACORN -- How about "suggested deliberate falsehoods about ACORN"? The entire thing about the fake prostitute and her pimp was a put-up job, and ACORN did exactly what it was supposed to -- Call the police and, upon their request, act receptive so as to detain the apparent criminals.

Is today False Equivalence Day?  When will it become a federal holiday?

Ivy_B
Ivy_B

Thanks, bobell. Exactly what I was thinking.

I also thought that when the fake O'Keefe video was posted, it was all over the news, even the mainstream evening news programs, and this - papers in Florida and bloggers, otherwise crickets. The right wing commenters here included ACORN in nearly every comment, whether pertinent or not. The progressives? Barely mention this company once or twice. I keep trying - SPROUL

sacredh
sacredh

ANOTHER federal holiday? OK. Doubletime for the good guys. And gals.

bobell
bobell

Admit it, sacred.  You wouldn't turn down another federal holiday.  I mean, next Monday we get the day off for Columbus Day.  Columbus day!  Why not add another one or two?

bobell
bobell

Uncle Sam.  Just another fringe benefit.

sacredh
sacredh

COfoVA, both of us work for the feds. I think we get 10 paid holidays. I'll give up Columbus Day for Halloween though. We're both under the Department of Defense. I'm Army. I think bobell is too. I hit retirement age 2 years ago and I'm still plugging away.

COfoEVA
COfoEVA

 Who do you work for?  I dont get Columbus day off!

sacredh
sacredh

Let's assume that Mitt loses. I know it's a stretch. Is Ryan going to START looking for a path to the White House that doesn't include Florida?

bobell
bobell

Four years is a long time for a prediction, but I predict that if Ryan by some miracle gets the nomination, he'll have a lot more to worry about than just Florida.  Who knows? He might even be the guy to turn Texas blue.

The Washington Post ran an editorial a day or two ago declaring Ryan a flimflam man, the same term The Evil Paul Krugman has been using for him for more than a year now.  Ryan's refusal to do the math on the Chris Wallace Show -- which runs on FOX -- has pretty much cemented his status as Mock Serious.  He's just another hole in the hull of Romney's sinking presidential craft.

Patricia Gibson
Patricia Gibson

The reaon Scott is unpopular is because people see him for the crook he is. Largest case of Medicare fraud won against him. Passed a law making welfare receipients take urine test, oh yeah, he happens to have ties with the testing company. Purged veterans and citizens off of the voter rolls and now doing it again to some of the same people. What's not to like about him? I wouldn't put it pass him to have his hand in the latest GOP voter fraud scandal in Florida.

nflfoghorn
nflfoghorn

Well he did try that with the Hispanic vote.

Partha Neogy
Partha Neogy

"But if Republicans were counting on strategies like the voter-roll purge

to give them an electoral edge, it may well have backfired."

If it has, it will just begin to restore my faith in the wisdom of Florida voters.

nflfoghorn
nflfoghorn

Give us time.

Fool me twice...won't get fooled again   ; )

Partha Neogy
Partha Neogy

My faith in enlightened Florida voters like yourself never wavered!

nflfoghorn
nflfoghorn

Thx.  I resemble that remark  ; )

Charles Jensen
Charles Jensen

What's going on in Florida is important to all US citizens because if successful they could swing the presidential election to the GOP. Dems, and the independent voters who believe in progressive/liberal politics, need to understand the need to VOTE IN EVERY ELECTION. If they don't, the conservative/tea party types will show up and skew the political picture to the extreme right for two years while the middle and left complain. Vote in all elections and we won't have the problem again.

roguelement
roguelement

Look friends I hope were all honest adults but the fact of the matter is these Neo-Con criminals  have taken 30 some yrs to destroy the united states while pointing the finger everywhere but in the direction it needs to go We looked the other way in 2000 and again in 08 and for anyone to say otherwise .. I CALL YOU A LIAR TO YOUR FACE Now stand before your Cash GOD and claim other ...You sick twisted frauds should all be lined up and gunned down like the Dogs you are and will just call that collateral damage ...and see how your family enjoys that...

sacredh
sacredh

A frown is just a smile turned upside down.

ERenger
ERenger

"You sick twisted frauds should all be lined up and gunned down like the Dogs you are..."

-------------------

You should do some yoga. 

Benevolent Lawyer
Benevolent Lawyer

 ????? Where was the fraud in 2008??? And is your rhetoric not a tad extreme? Jeez.  Seriously, you need to calm it down. Wayyy down.

ERenger
ERenger

He IS a Rogue Element...

(Actually missing an "e", so either a "rogu element" or a "rogue lement," but either way, you can't really expect sanity.) 

Benevolent Lawyer
Benevolent Lawyer

I do NOT think this fraud was an isolated case. In addition, I do not think the true extent of this fraud has been uncovered thus far. I am concerned the matter is being under reported, and people are now lulled into complacency by believing this is a "one off" and isolated incident. 

I hope no one forgets the Florida 2000 fiasco. Long before the problems emerged with the hanging chads and butterfly ballots, some Democrats had complained about the way voting had been altered in some counties.  Since their concerns were not ultimately resolved, when the problems arose in that election, the chads became an issue which in part cost Gore the presidency.

I hope the Democrats and other groups that protect voting rights, investigate this matter with the seriousness it deserves.  This election will be close, and a recurrence of 2000 melee,  in which the same activist Supreme Court could be called in to determine the outcome of the elections, WILL NOT BE IN OBAMA'S FAVOR AT ALL.

bobell
bobell

Nice post, BL.  I noticed, however, that your second sentence is tied up in "not"s.

Benevolent Lawyer
Benevolent Lawyer

Thanks Bob, I will correct it. Cheers!

bobell
bobell

Cheers back atcha. And thanks for the opportunity to haul out my wheezy old pun.

gysgt213
gysgt213

(Strategic insists the problems are isolated and under control, but the Republicans have fired the firm.)

Let's take Strategic's word for it.  They are only the ones committing the fraud, having their employees lie and lying to their own employees, changing their name to pretend they are someone else.

S_Deemer
S_Deemer

It's kind of difficult to claim it was an "honest mistake" after going to the trouble of changing the company's name--at the request the RNC, if I remember correctly.

gysgt213
gysgt213

I have said many times before. If the GOP accuses you of doing something nefarious.  You can always make a sure bet its because its something they the GOP are already doing themselves.  They get away with this because the main stream media and democrats are constantly cowering in so much fear of just being accused neither group investigates or pushes back on their BS.  

By no means am I suggesting you cannot find some scum bag democrats out their pulling BS too.

Josephine Blow
Josephine Blow

"You can always make a sure bet its because its something they the GOP are already doing themselves."

Like clockwork.   You have to wonder if it's a pre-emptive strike to prevent anyone from even accusing them of their misdeeds.

AlistairCookie
AlistairCookie

I couldn't agree with you more.  It's the same thing that drives cheaters to always suspect their spouse is cheating.

Or for parents who were wild as teenagers to be extra hard on their kids because they remember what they did.

Of course it's not that some Dems aren't also sleazy, but the Dems don't have the same aura of hypocrisy.  The GOP bill themselves as the Party of God, Family Values, Anti-Everyone (who isn't a cis gendered WASP) and 'Merica--so when one of them does something like, say, cheat on their wife with a baggage boy, it's the hypocrisy that makes it extra scandalous.    

Benevolent Lawyer
Benevolent Lawyer

I totally agree.  I just made a comment on the issue. In the 2000 election, the little rumblings about the changes to the voting system went largely ignored. Eventually, when it became a massive issue, it was a large part of the reason Gore lost the election.

When an election becomes hinged on determining the intent of voters because the chads were "hanging" or "pregnant", the outcome will usually be in favor of the Loons who introduced that voting "problem".  In this case, the matter needs to be rigorously pursued.  Florida's votes are always critical in close races. It seems to me this fraud was far widespread than is being reported.

roguelement
roguelement

I'm deeply ashamed of My Government and the level of hypocrisy so blatantly obvious in our infamous Criminal justice system or shall I dare say our justice Department where injustice lives  and reigns supreme and laws are flat out ignored and 9/11  investigations that go nowhere where the Wall Street plunderers get bonuses instead of bars . oh yes people I can't get down the street without a seat belt but the Banksters can plunder a nation and get bonuses.

S_Deemer
S_Deemer

The Democratic party and the Obama campaign knew these things were going to happen, and planned accordingly. The string of successful lawsuits against restrictive voter registration laws is not coincidence.

Benevolent Lawyer
Benevolent Lawyer

 Well, I think if they had uncovered fraud, it would have been in the news along with the voter suppression discourse.

sacredh
sacredh

gysgt213, 20 years ago I was so angry with the democrats for not playing as dirty as the republicans did. We're good at it now, but they keep lowering the bar. I don't care what we have to do to win.

.

OT, but I've got to run now and get some work done before the festivities start tonight.

Magik13
Magik13

Republicans are cheaters in addition to being racist, misogynistic, bigoted liars. The Republicans rigging the election system is the epitome of criminal and immoral behavior in a democratic society. Republicans should not even have the right to be a political party any longer in the USA their crimes against the people of the USA are stacked so high. This is disgusting. 

Benevolent Lawyer
Benevolent Lawyer

 I cannot believe that Ryan the hunter of women's reproductive rights is at the top of a Republican ticket.  Most women I know have no intention of voting for Romney. I hope Romney loses. The thought of a presidency that includes the co-sponsor of the bill on legitimate rape, Paul Ryan, is quite daunting.

groups
groups

I cannot believe women in this day and age still buy into the whole liberal bs about our reproductive rights being taken away.  Are you kidding???  NYC is pushing to have "morning after pill" available for high school girls for goodness sakes and that is the direction we are headed in..MORE CHOICES!  EVERY election cycle since Roe V Wade was passed includes the obligatory Liberal message "they want to take away our right to choose"...PALEEZE!  We have had no less than 24 years of republican presidency since the bill was passed.  Don't be so gullible ladies!  STOP buying into the pandering and FOCUS on the real issue of the DEBT!  We are screwed if Mr. Personality gets four more years.  Do you not understand simple math?   Talk about class wafare...you are going to get if after all the programs that got the dude elected fall through the cracks...along with the dummies who think everything is so great on "The View"...silly women.  We are our own worse enemies...sad

53underscore3
53underscore3

He's not pleasing us old farts neether, benevolent.

53underscore3
53underscore3

It looks to me like there is some disaffection with him in the white community. This, I think, is the reason why he's not getting the traction that McCain did in 2008.  (FYI, I don't like the word "white" as the disparate histories that fall under that category have different cultures and different histories. That's why I tell people I'm Norwegian - a distinction with a difference. There really is no "white history", or even for that matter, "white culture"!)

Sorry to even bring race into it, but I think that the GOP isn't gaining ground with any demographic.  The black community here has rendered a near unanimous judgement about Romney. Latinos, Jews, all in the 70 / 30 category against the GOP. Another FYI - note that the GOP is playing the 'Angry Black Man' meme with that 2007 tape of Obama (not that I wouldn't be angry about Katrina - I still am!). The GOP is DESPERATE!

The common denominator between the pro - Romney and antis is actually FOX more than anything else - you know - the whole "alternate reality" thing FOX presents. A lot of what used to be considered their safest demographic are questioning FOXworld.

But, with women already questioning the whole Romney ticket, all  of this might be moot.

Benevolent Lawyer
Benevolent Lawyer

 Haha. 53, I hope not. I also hope many other men see this as a big issue. For many women, we discuss it quite often.  Ryan is a NUT.

David
David

GOP stink in Florida getting bad.  Hold your nose and watch the snakes eat each other as Romney's political ambitions come to an end.

sacredh
sacredh

So basically, the democrats have turned Lurch's voter suppression into a voter suppository for Mitt. Romney just got Florida shoved up his @ss.

Magik13
Magik13

Romney has a lot more than that crammed up his arse.