Tilting at Windmills

May/June 2012 Block the vote

By Charles Peters

If you have doubted that the efforts of Republican state legislators to suppress minority voting are succeeding, ponder this news. From the time when Florida’s new election law took effect in July of last year through late March of this year, 81,471 fewer people have registered to vote than during the same period before the 2008 elections. This is the troubling finding of an analysis by the New York Times, reported by Michael Cooper and Jo Craven McGinty.

Among the law’s burdens is a requirement that groups conducting registration drives must “turn in completed forms within 48 hours or face fines.” This threat of being penalized for not meeting this absurdly unrealistic deadline has been so discouraging that groups like Rock the Vote and the League of Women Voters have abandoned their registration campaigns in the state.

Charles Peters is the founding editor of the Washington Monthly and the author of a new book on Lyndon B. Johnson published by Times Books.


  • PhillyCooke on June 04, 2012 3:33 PM:

    No one should have to register to vote. Everyone should be automatically registered, and there should be a national database of all eligible voters with the ability for any elected official to determine eligibility within moments of appearing at a polling place.
    In addition, voting should be mandatory with a database maintained of everyone who voted and a penalty assessed on people who do not participate.
    Representative democracy will not work if people are permitted to game the system and restrict participation to those they want to participate. This should have been the lesson learned from the Civil Rights Movement.

  • brian t. raven on June 09, 2012 9:18 PM:

    PhillyCooke has a point. Some countries use their voter ID cards as the No. 1 source of identification for most transactions. It doesn't always get everyone out to the polls; because there are usually big limitations in state computer systems. Also, the penalty, which is often jail time, is far less effective (and absurd) than a fine would be.

  • Bart K. Logan on September 19, 2012 10:19 AM:

    81,000 fewer people? That makes sense. The illegals can't register, the folks with outstanding warrants won't register, and the lazy don't want to make the effort to register.

    Frankly, if you can't make an effort to do your civic duty then you shouldn't be voting in the first place.