CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- Remember those block-long lines of Florida voters waiting up to seven hours to cast ballots in the Nov. 6 election?
Well, the Palm Beach Post says five Republican insiders have revealed that the GOP plotted secretly to obstruct and delay early voting -- a strategy to hinder balloting by blacks and Hispanics supportive of Democratic nominees.
Last year, Republicans in Florida's legislature curtailed early election hours and also ended voting on a Sunday when black churches previously took thousands of members to polls. This cutback supposedly was done to prevent "vote fraud" -- but that explanation was a smokescreen, a ruse concealing a different type of vote fraud.
Former Florida GOP Chairman Jim Greer told the Post he attended several meetings from 2009 onward "at which party staffers and consultants pushed for reductions in early voting days and hours." Greer said: "It's done for one reason, and one reason only." He quoted party insiders as warning: "We've got to cut down on early voting because early voting is not good for us."
"Yes, there is prejudice and racism in the party, but the real prevailing thought is that they don't think minorities will ever vote Republican. ... It's simply that the Republican Party gave up a long time ago, ever believing that anything they did would get minorities to vote for them."
Greer's account was corroborated by former Florida Gov. Charlie Crist and other Republican figures. Emmett Mitchell IV, counsel to the state GOP, testified in a federal lawsuit that Republican insiders wanted to reduce early voting. GOP consultant Wayne Bertsch said an enormous turnout of Democratic voters during Florida's early balloting days "certainly sent a chill down our spines."
During the 2008 election, the newspaper reported, 61 percent of early ballots in Palm Beach County were cast by Democrats, and only 19 percent by Republicans.
(Both Greer and Crist currently are in conflict with Florida's GOP. Greer was accused of embezzling party money, but he sued, claiming that party officials approved his diversion of funds into a campaign operation. Crist likewise has broken with the party.)
Next time Republican legislators in West Virginia or any state seek to restrict voting to prevent "vote fraud," remember that their hidden reason is to block Democratic ballots.