A lengthy South Florida Sun-Sentinel article on Florida's Election Day fiascos whitewashed Republican Gov. Rick Scott's role in creating horrific voting scenarios that have made the state a national laughingstock and disenfranchised parts of the Florida electorate.
The article, published in the November 8 edition of the Sun-Sentinel, buried Scott's refusal to follow a Florida tradition of extending early-voting hours after reports over the weekend that voters stood in long lines waiting for hours to cast a ballot and noted his refusal only in the context of partisan criticism from former governor and “Obama supporter” Charlie Crist. Worse, the article seemed to imply that Scott joined President Obama in expressing a strong desire to fix the system that he left broken. His comments, however, don't reflect the empathy attributed to him by the reporter. From the article (emphasis added):
Images of long, long lines of people in South Florida waiting to cast ballots during early voting dominated the airwaves. Many voters in Miami-Dade, Broward and Palm Beach counties reported waiting several hours. That continued on Election Day with some voters in Miami not getting done at the polls until about 1:30 a.m.
Even Obama seemed to have noticed, making an apparent jab at Florida in his acceptance speech early Wednesday morning.
“I want to thank every American who participated in this election whether you voted for the very first time or waited in line for a very long time,” he said. “By the way, we have to fix that.”
And the president is not the only one saying that.
Gov. Rick Scott, when questioned last week about the long voter lines, said that seeing so many people turn out to do their civic duty was “exciting.”
On Wednesday, Scott stopped short of criticizing the state election's process, but said he would be reviewing it with Florida Secretary of State Ken Detzner.
“What went right, what can we improve?” Scott said.
The Sun-Sentinel reporter failed to expand on Scott's apparent glee at the prospect of long lines, but more importantly, she downplayed Scott's tireless efforts at complicating the voting process over the months leading up to the election. As The Miami Herald pointed out:
Gov. Rick Scott has come in for well-deserved criticism in this mess. By advocating a shorter early-voting schedule, eight days instead of the previous 14, the governor and his election team ensured a logjam of people in some urban-county precincts.
The governor compounded the mistake by failing to agree to extend the early-voting period through Sunday, as both GOP predecessors Charlie Crist and Jeb Bush had done in other years when faced with the evident necessity. The resulting delays at some polling places were scandalous. At one precinct in Lake Worth in Palm Beach County, some voters still in line at 7 p.m. had to wait until 2:30 a.m. on Sunday to vote.
Buried in an editorial on the Sun-Sentinel's November 8 opinion page, the paper's editors seemed to grasp Scott's role in the mess, writing:
Gov. Rick Scott and state lawmakers failed citizens last year by limiting the number of early voting days. The supposed goal was to prevent voter fraud, but a more likely reason is that more Democrats vote early. While we heard of voting lines that lasted five hours or more, we heard of no one who endured the wait only to show a phony I.D. The excuse for limiting early voting is flimsy and the governor should show leadership and reverse course.
And yet, while the news article briefly mentioned the Republican bill that reduced the number of early voting days, it didn't note that Scott pushed that legislation through and signed it despite an outpouring of opposition to the measure. Nor did the Sun-Sentinel cite Scott's other attempts to disrupt the electoral process in his state. The voters of Florida deserve to know who led them into this electoral mess, and the Sun-Sentinel doesn't serve their interests by obfuscating the truth about Rick Scott.
UPDATE: This post has been updated to clarify that the article does mention Scott's refusal to extend early-voting hours in the context of criticism from former governor Charlie Crist.