You may think that people were exaggerating when they said that Florida was creating its own “election police force” last week. You would be wrong. There is now a bureau dedicated to investigating “crimes”, and law enforcement personnel, actual cops, will be assigned to the task force. The other provisions are draconian:
The bill passed Wednesday would make it a felony to collect and submit more than two vote-by-mail ballots on behalf of other voters. It’s currently a misdemeanor to do so. It also increases the fine from $1,000 to $50,000 on organizations that violate election registration laws.
So if you help too many people get their stuff in the mail, you are a felon. And this will place a chill upon registration drives.
What do we expect? It’s Florida, ground zero for some of the most fucked-up policies in the nation on a host of issues.
Its neighbor, however, is jealous. Yep, my home state is dragging the cops into the voting process too. They want to involve the GBI in investigating fraud allegations, which I supposed could be alleged by just about anyone peripheral to the voting system. Election officials are alarmed:
Milton Kidd, who oversees elections in Douglas County, west of Atlanta, said the more direct involvement by the Georgia Bureau of Investigations could deter poll workers and voters from participating.
“Poll workers … have told me that they have moved away from the election space because they feel like these are actions that are going to come against them,” Kidd said at a recent hearing on the bill. “It’s going to have a chilling effect on voters participating in the process because, in most cases, the election issues that the secretary of state has found have been administrative issues. They’re issues that the current mechanism can actually deal with.”
There’s no telling what other swing states could conceivably copycat these new laws. But this is getting very serious, scaring voters and volunteers. Actual voter fraud was rare last go-round, and they are trying to swat a fly with a Buick here because Republicans didn’t like the results. This process should be easy. Instead, democracy is a new beat for cops to walk, truncheons swinging.