People For the American Way Foundation

Restrictions on Early Voting and Voter Registration Used for Partisan Gain

The past two years saw a dramatic rise in states attempting to enact voter suppression, the impact of which was certainly felt on Election Day. Under the guise of combating voter fraud and saving money, we saw strong pushes for ID and early voting and voter registration restrictions.

Florida was among the worst offenders. A recent Palm Beach Post report revealed the party politics behind the story. Jim Greer, former Chairman of the Florida Republican Party, says that GOP strategists and consultants "firmly believe that early voting is bad for Republican Party candidates" and simply used the issue of voter fraud as a "marketing ploy" to advocate for voter restrictions on early voting and registration. Several others stated that the restrictions on early voting and registration groups were explicitly in place to target minority voters and limit their turnout in the election.

Florida members of the African American Ministers Leadership Council said they were "appalled but not surprised" by the report and the claims that the restrictions exclusively targeted minority voters. Elder Lee Harris, Pastor of Mt. Olive Primitive Baptist Church in Jacksonville, stated:

There’s a reason African Americans stood in line for hours on Nov. 6. We knew that these early voting and voter registration restrictions were meant to keep us away from the polls. But we’ve come too far and fought too hard to let anybody take away our vote again… Even while cloaked in the dubious language of ‘voter fraud,’ the real reason for these measures was always clear. African Americans in Florida knew that, and we fought back – by voting.


112th Congress, African American Ministers Leadership Council, early voting, Elder Lee Harris, Jim Greer, Policy Corner, public policy, Voter Fraud, voter ID, Voter Registration, voter suppression, voting rights