If you've paid attention to the new and improved voter suppression tactics in Florida, especially since Rick Scott bought the governors office, you probably remained skeptical when his beer lobbyist turned Secretary of State Ken Detzner halted the second voter purge recently, after the first one managed to remove legitimate voters, a veteran among them, and was ruled illegal after the fact. I was certainly skeptical. After all, there are lots of other ways to bend the rules and make it harder to vote without an all out purge of the voter rolls, but I have to say this one would have never occurred to me:
"Are you a voter in Miami Dade County? Were you aware that as a matter of policy, voters are prohibited from using restrooms at polling places? Hard to believe, especially in light of the extraordinary lines, but rather than making the restrooms accessible, the County has decided to make all restrooms off limits to voters.
That's right. Even if you're an eligible voter in Miami-Dade, you can vote, or use the restroom, but you can't do both and expect to keep your place in those long lines. Because those long lines weren't enough of a deterrence on their own, as we saw when voters waited hours in line in 2012 even after the election was called.
Worse, this policy didn't even exist until the Miami-Dade Elections Department received an inquiry about the availability of restrooms for those with disabilities from disability rights lawyer Marc Dubin:
Earlier this year, the Miami-Dade County Elections Department quietly implemented a policy to close the bathrooms at all polling facilities, according to disability rights lawyer Marc Dubin. Dubin said the policy change was in “direct response” to an inquiry to the Elections Department about whether they had assessed accessibility of polling place bathrooms to those with disabilities.
“I was expecting them to say either yes we have or yes we will,” Dubin said.
"Please note State statute does not mandate that the rest rooms in the polling location be ADA compliant. As we discussed at the meeting in order to ensure that individuals with disabilities are not treated unfairly, the use of rest rooms by the Voters is not allowed on election day."
Simply close restrooms to everybody, and therefore eliminate that whole "reasonable accommodations for the disabled" issue altogether. After getting beyond the ugliness of that idea, there's more:
But those with disabilities are not the only ones who would suffer disproportionately from this policy. A Massachusetts Institute of Technology analysis found that blacks and Hispanics waited almost twice as long to vote as whites in the 2012 presidential election. Another analysis found that this “time tax” also impacted young voters. And this would be one of a number Florida voter suppression policies that have a particular impact on the elderly.
There are so many ways to make sure that those less inclined to vote for you aren't able to vote at all, and just when you think Rick Scott and his beer buddy have thought of them all, they surprise you with a new one.
What kind of person has a light bulb go off in their head for a new way to keep people from voting as a result of an inquiry over accessibility to restrooms for the disabled? It doesn't get much uglier than this.
Another day in Rick Scott's version of paradise.