Two former Florida GOP leaders and current party strategists are blowing the whistle on early voting law HB 1355, which—they admit—was designed by Republicans to limit Democratic turnout, specifically targetting minorities.
Former GOP Chairman Jim Greer and former Governor Charlie Crist told the Palm Beach Post that concerns regarding voter fraud were advanced "for one reason and one reason only," to deter Democratic voters.
According to the report, Greer cited a number of meetings, beginning in 2009, during which party staffers and consultants pushed for reductions in early voting days and hours. "We’ve got to cut down on early voting because early voting is not good for us," Greer was reportedly told by party consultants.
“The Republican Party, the strategists, the consultants, they firmly believe that early voting is bad for Republican Party candidates,” he added. “They never came in to see me and tell me we had a (voter) fraud issue,” Greer said. “It’s all a marketing ploy.”
Former Governor Crist also admitted to being approached by party leaders during his 2007-2011 gubernatorial term about changing early voting in an effort to suppress Democrat turnout.
The election law, HB 1355, which was successfully passed by Republican super-majorities in 2011, cut Florida’s in-person early voting days from 14 to eight and eliminated early voting on the Sunday before Election Day and, according to The Post, "made it harder for voters who had changed counties since the last election to cast ballots, a move that affected minorities proportionately more than whites."
An anonymous GOP consultant interviewed by the paper also acknowledged that suppressing black votes was of specific concern. “I know that the cutting out of the Sunday before Election Day was one of their targets only because that’s a big day when the black churches organize themselves,” he said.
When questioned about the statements, GOP defenders have questioned Greer and Crist's credibility. The former governor left the GOP in the face of a challenge from now-Sen. Marco Rubio (R) in the 2010 Senate primary and endorsed President Barack Obama's in the recent election.
Greer is currently under indictment for reportedly stealing $200,000 from the party through a phony campaign fundraising operation though, in response, he has sued the party saying "GOP leaders knew what he was doing and voiced no objection."
In November, Obama defeated Republican candidate Mitt Romney in Florida by 74,309 votes— compared to a 237,000-vote margin in 2008.