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Tanner Andrews

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Aka: How to prevent people of color from casting ballots

Last year, Florida enacted new voting restrictions. While the intent was to reduce the turnout of darker-complected voters, you are not allowed to say that.

Pretend that there was some legitimate reason for the new voting restrictions. No one with the sense that God gave geese believed the big lie of a stolen 2020 election, but it still provides an excuse for more security.

Florida has always tried to disguise efforts to prevent Negro voting. The 1886 Constitution, for instance, barred voting by felons. Sensible security, right?

They carefully choose felonies, based on stale stereotypes. Steal a watermelon at the market: Get a notice to appear for a misdemeanor. Stealing the same melon from the field is agricultural theft, a felony.

Powder cocaine, the drug of choice for the overpaid and underly brilliant, is usually a misdemeanor. Crack cocaine, the cheaper form popular in less-affluent neighborhoods, is a felony. Marijuana was originally made a felony based on similar prejudices.

However, many darker-complected folks have no criminal history at all. Not even a “driving while Black”! The state needs different methods to prevent them from voting.

If they have hourly jobs, eliminating after-hours drop boxes discourages absentee voting. To stop churches taking folks to vote after services, several states ban Sunday voting.

Large precincts, in carefully chosen areas, result in long queues to vote. This discourages election-day turnout. Florida now takes that further, banning distribution of sandwiches and water while people wait in those long queues.

Admittedly, the correlation is imperfect. It relies on a lot of stereotypes that have not aged well. Still, the intent is there.

Intent is not enough. There is still some risk of wrong people voting, so the governor asked for a new election police force. No word if the uniforms should include white robes and hoods.

The key is sounding race-neutral. Nothing in felony disenfranchisement makes any mention of color. Nothing in the election-security bill mentions color, either.

Attorney General Moody can argue that there was a plausible reason for the Legislature to enact the law. If she can avoid giggling, it might be enough to survive a challenge.

With a one-party government, court review of legislation is extremely deferential. No one wants to be seen as racist, so you know what the legislators were thinking — if it just sounds plausible, it does not have to actually make sense.

— Andrews is a DeLand-area attorney and a longtime government critic. For purposes of the column, he finds it convenient that there is so much government to criticize.


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