Ex-Florida GOP Chair Claims Republican Voting Laws Focused on Suppression, Racism

Jim Greer, the former head of the Florida Republican party, insisted that the state’s voting laws are aimed at suppressing voting among minority groups and those likely to support Democrats.

Jim Greer, the former chairman of the Florida Republican Party, claimed in a recent interview that a law shortening the early voting period in the state was passed to inhibit Democratic voters. Photo: Atlanta Black Star

A new Florida law which has previously raised doubts was intentionally designed by Florida GOP staff and consultants to suppress voting among minor groups that tend to support Democratic candidates Jim Greer, the Florida Republican party chairman in from 2006 to 2010, told The Palm Beach Post.

The politician revaled to the publication that he attended several meetings during which Republican officials discussed the damage that early voting — which brought an unprecedented number of black voters to the polls in 2008 — had done to the party, The New York Times reports.

“The Republican Party, the strategists, the consultants, they firmly believe that early voting is bad for Republican Party candidates,” Mr. Greer said. “It’s done for one reason and one reason only.”

The former Republican chairman also made it clear the stated reason for the change, to reduce voter fraud, was nonsense, adding: “They never came in to see me and tell me we had a fraud issue. It’s all a marketing ploy.”

He went on, saying: “The sad thing about that is yes, there is prejudice and racism in the party but the real prevailing thought is that they don’t think minorities will ever vote Republican.”

As The Huffington Post reminds, the HB 1355 law, passed by Florida’s Republican legislature and signed by Gov. Rick Scott (R) in Nov. 2011,  cut the number of early voting days from 14 to eight being described to public as an effort to reduce voter fraud and to save money.

By the way, Greer is now under indictment, as he was accused of stealing $200,000 from the party by frauds. He also filed a lawsuit against the party, stating that GOP leaders knew what he was doing and voiced no objection.

“Jim Greer has been accused of criminal acts against this organization and anything he says has to be considered in that light,” says Brian Burgess, Florida GOP spokesman since September.

But Greer’s comments on the motivations for the party’s legislative efforts are backed by Charlie Crist — who is also in some contradictions with the party — and two veteran GOP campaign consultants.

“People have fought and died for our right to vote, and unfortunately our legislature and this governor have decided they want to make early voting less available to Floridians rather than more available … It’s hard for me as an American to comprehend why you don’t make democracy as easy as possible to exercise for the people of our state. It’s frankly unconscionable,” Christ said of the issue.

Wayne Bertsch, who handles local and legislative races for Republicans, confirmed that he also knew that targeting Democrats was the goal.

“In the races I was involved in in 2008, when we started seeing the increase of turnout and the turnout operations that the Democrats were doing in early voting, it certainly sent a chill down our spines. And in 2008, it didn’t have the impact that we were afraid of. It got close, but it wasn’t the impact that they had this election cycle,” Bertsch said, bearing in mind that Democrats picked up seven legislative seats in Florida in 2012 despite the early voting limitations.

Another GOP consultant, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, also suggested that influential consultants to the Republican Party of Florida were intent on beating back Democratic turnout in early voting after 2008

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