Florida Republican Voters Targeted for Suppression

Many GOP voters say they received letters saying they must prove their citizenship to vote.

Posted: 10/25/2012 02:30 PM EDT
Florida Republican Voters Targeted for Suppression

In a move widely seen as reversal of roles, Republican voters in Florida have complained that they have been the target of voter suppression efforts.

The letters, which are being investigated by the FBI, tell recipients that they will be unable to vote unless they can produce documentation proving their American citizenship.

“The county supervisor has received information from the Florida Division of Elections regarding your citizenship status, bringing into question your eligibility as a registered voter,” states the letter, which included the title “Supervisor of Elections” on the letterhead.

“Do not mail these documents,” the letter continues. “You may want to call us prior to visiting our main office.”

The letters have spurred widespread attention largely because of the pivotal role Florida is expected to play in the upcoming presidential election. But they have also been the subject of much discussion in political circles because most voter suppression tactics are typically targeted at Democratic voting groups, particularly African-American voters.

Chris Cate, a spokesman for the Florida Division of Elections, said that his office had been notified by people in nearly 30 counties in the state about the letters. He said he was uncertain how many letters had been sent and that they were all said to have a Seattle postmark.

Among those who received the letters were the president of the City Council of Jacksonville and a former American ambassador.

Marcus Bright, an adjunct professor of public administration at Florida Atlantic University, said that letters were a “miniscule distraction” in the overall range of voter suppression activity.

“Voter suppression by any party is wrong,” Bright said. “But this is insignificant in comparison to the more formal strategy employed by Florida’s Republican governor and Republican legislature.”

He added, “They have made it more difficult for felons to get their voting rights restored and the have placed burdensome restrictions on voter registration. They have tried to purge the names of voters from the voting rolls. And they do all that legally. This letter thing is far more of an isolated case.”

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(Photo: Joe Raedle/Getty Images)

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