Thursday, June 20, 2013

Florida Republican Establishment Doesn't Care About Absentee Voter Fraud

The Florida Department of Law Enforcement gets its budget approved by the Florida legislature and signed into law by Gov. Rick Scott. It it no surprise to me that the FDLE did not look deeply into the voter fraud committed by Strategic Allied Consulting. Jeff Jewett worked for Strategic Allied Consulting and told the Miami Herald that the FDLE showed a lack of interest in voter fraud.

Jewett, the one who reported the crime, the one who supervised the employee and could best inform investigators if this was an isolated case or was more systemic, was never interviewed.

“I was surprised,” Jewett said. “I figured they’d be interested in talking to me considering I was the one who turned him in.”

Such a lack of initiative is baffling for an investigation into a crime that Gov. Rick Scott and Republican lawmakers had made a top priority in prosecuting and preventing. In the 18 months leading to last year’s presidential campaign, they said the specter of voter registration fraud was so great that it was necessary to push for a purge of ineligible voters and a new law that made it harder to register voters.

Strategic Allied Consulting was hired by the Republican Party of Florida. Considering the political ramifications, it is not surprising that the FDLE investigation was lacking enthusiasm. Daniel Smith has been covering Republican voter suppression for quite some time. Like me, Smith questions the motives of the FDLE.

“They never talked to the whistle blower?” said Daniel Smith, a University of Florida political scientist who analyzes state election laws, when told about Jewett. “That’s unbelievable. You just wonder if the FDLE is sitting on this and hoping it withers away.”

I am not wondering. As we have seen, the Republican voting laws don't stop the nearly nonexistent problem of voting fraud. The laws are targeted at people likely to vote for the Democratic Party. Republicans have had an advantage in absentee ballots. Gov. Rick Scott did not want to comment when absentee ballot fraud was discovered in Florida.

When asked about the news about the absentee ballot fraud in Miami-Dade and state attorney Katherine Fernandez Rundle stepping aside from that case leaving an appointment in his hands, he said “we’ll take a look at it.” He said he wouldn’t appoint a special prosecutor on Friday but didn’t say exactly when he would appoint one.

Scott stuck to generalities -- saying that he wanted to make sure noncitzens don’t vote and repeatedly said he wants to “make sure our elections are honest and fair.”

But he didn’t show any alarm or appear to be working on any proposals for reform. Scott said that the system appears to be working -- which perhaps was a reference to the arrest in the Miami-Dade absentee ballot fraud case. When asked if his staff was researching a proposal for the Legislature to address absentee ballot fraud he said “the Secretary of State’s office will be reviewing it.”

The man that disastrously cut early voting and made it harder for groups such as the League of Women Voters to register new voters has been mum on absentee ballot fraud. Scott wants to rig to voting system. Not fix it.

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