The former head of the Republican Party in Florida said that the state law to shorten early voting was intended to suppress voting by Black, Latino and urban voters.
“The Republican Party, the strategists, the consultants, they firmly believe that early voting is bad for Republican Party candidates,” said Jim Greer, who once led the state GOP, speaking to the Palm Beach Post.
“It’s done for one reason and one reason only,” he said. Republican lawmakers, he said, are of the belief that "we’ve got to cut down on early voting because early voting is not good for us.”
The reduction in early voting hours by the Republican-controlled legislature was harshly criticized by Black elected officials in Florida. Their criticisms became even more pronounced on Election Day, when thousands of Floridians stood in line for hours to cast their ballots.
Greer served as Florida's Republican Party chairman from 2006 until 2010, when he resigned after allegedly stealing money from the party. He was arrested, and his case is pending. He has spoken publicly, including in depositions, about the motivation of Florida Republicans in changing voting laws.
In Florida, the Republican-run legislature reduced the number of days that voters could cast their ballots early from 14 to eight days. As a result, the lines in early voting were notably long, with elections officials threatening to cut off voting at the end of the business day despite thousands of dispirited Floridians waiting in line.
Republican officials said the changes in voting hours and voting laws were designed to reduce voter fraud and to save money. However, Greer maintained that those descriptions amounted to nothing more than a "marketing ploy."
“It confirms what we knew from the very beginning,” said Alan B. Williams, a Democratic member of the Florida House of Representatives, speaking with BET.com.
“We now know what many of us suspected,” said Williams, who is vice chairman of the Florida Conference of Black State Legislators. “They wanted to prevent President Obama from getting re-elected, and they were willing to pull out all the stops in order to do that.”
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(Photo by Scott J. Ferrell/Congressional Quarterly/Getty Images)