Obama Wins Florida and Ohio Despite Republican Voter Suppression Efforts in Both States


Update: This article is the last in a series on voter suppression activity in 2012. The other articles in the series include; "Hurricane Sandy: Add Storm to a Growing List of Voter Suppression Efforts in Pennsylvania", "How Voter Suppression Endangers our Democratic Process"," "Voter Suppression Laws Overturned in Battleground States: a Win for the American People, and Obama," "Presidential Polls: Obama Poised to Win, But This is How Republicans Will Snatch the Election" and “Florida Early Voting Results: Republican Voter Suppression Efforts Fail to Curtail Turnout.”

Barack Obama was re-elected to the office as the 44th and 45th president of the United States. He ushered in a victory for liberal politics which included legalization of same sex marriage, recreational marijuana use and women in politics. Every liberal platform was validated by the election. Extreme Tea Party candidate Joe Walsh was replaced by war hero and physically challenged veteran Tammy Duckworth in Illinois. Tea Party wing nut Allan West was turned out in Florida. Tammy Baldwin, the openly gay new Senator from Wisconsin won in the state that was perceived to be the new Ohio and central to the Republican Midwestern strategy. Bi-sexual Kyrsten Sinema won in Arizona and became the first openly bi-sexual  member of Congress. New Hampshire has an all-woman delegation, the first in history. Angus King took the Republican seat in Maine. Todd Akin and Richard Mourdock, the embodiment of the GOP’s position on abortion both lost badly in their respective Senate races in ultra-red Missouri and Indiana. Democrat Heidi Heitkamp won her Senate seat in the red state of North Dakota.

Republican demographics skewed heavily white and male, and it was reflected in their Congressional delegation. The Republicans now have one African-American in all of Congress. That’s down from two. The so-called Republican wave of 2010 was the first time in decades that women representation in Congress regressed. With the Democrats in 2012, there are now more women in the Senate than ever before. California residents actually voted to raise taxes. And voters’ rights advocates fought hard against the voter suppression efforts of Republicans in Florida and Ohio and won those states for Obama.

Republican Governor Rick Scott had used virtually every method possible to reduce voter turnout in Florida. He tried to change voter registration laws only to have that effort overturned by the courts. He reduced early voting hours from 14 to 8 days before the election. His voting machines failed, his infrastructure ran out of supplies and polling sites were closed when they ran out of supplies and personnel to support the turnout. He refused to keep the polling sites open and he was forced to allow for absentee ballots to be accepted on Sunday before the election. He was even sued on the weekend before the election for failure to perform his duty to the citizens who elected him to office. But even with all of the efforts to control the vote, voters turned out and waited in lines for hours to cast their ballots. And the voters were heard as Florida has now officially been called for Obama. As Comedy Central's Jon Stewart said one of the best things to happen this election is that Obama won and Florida didn’t matter. So that is the legacy of Rick Scott’s voter suppression effort. Not only did he not win the state for the Republicans but he took what was considered the preeminent and perennial swing state of Florida and made its 29 electoral votes irrelevant in 2012.

Ohio Republican Secretary of State John Husted had a worse outcome than Scott. Ohio had made every effort to reduce voter turnout. They had plastered minority neighborhoods throughout the state with signs with ominous warnings of voter fraud penalties. Those signs were taken down when the anonymous backer refused to comply with the company policy to be a named sponsor. Husted had sought to have early voting hours canceled throughout the state. He lost  that battle in court, he lost several appeals, including an appeal to the Supreme Court of the United States. He tried to fire Democratic officials who refused to support his attempts to suppress voter turnout. He was admonished by the court for openly defying its orders and when he couldn’t get his way he slashed early voting hours by 33% in the most populous areas of the state which happened to be Democratic strongholds. But his effort were not rewarded either. Voters battled the freezing elements and waited on lines for hours to cast their vote, particularly in the areas that Husted targeted with his efforts. Those regions including Cuyahoga County were the precincts that secured the Ohio victory for Obama. Husted’s failure was so profound, that it resulted in a meltdown on national TV when Republican kingmaker, Karl Rove refused to allow Fox News to call the state for Obama. Husted will face the music and the wrath of those voters he wished to disenfranchise when he comes up for reelection in 2014.

Republican voter suppression efforts failed badly. Chris Tackett of Treehugger.com said “The reason Republicans are making it harder to vote is because they know they are losing the demographics and their ideas aren't winnable anymore.” Lauren Victoria Blake pointed out on Politics365.com that “ten attempts at voter suppression by the states across the country were blocked one after the other in the courts this year.”

The Republican  Party had counted on these efforts to reduce Democratic voter turnout specifically in Ohio and Florida. Their attempt to damage the coalition that swept Obama into office in 2008 backfired, instead the coalition held firm. Obama won 93% of the African-American vote, 71% of the Hispanic American vote and 73% of the Asian-American vote. Obama even won the Cuban-American vote in Florida which was thought to be a Republican stronghold. Rick Ungar, a contributor to Forbes magazine explained  that “despite efforts in 33 GOP controlled states to restrict the vote, exit polls reveal that the minority share of the 2012 electorate increased from 26% in 2008 to 28% in 2012. Voting among the African-American community remained steady at 13% of the total electorate.”

Rachel Maddow of MSNBC provided this observation, “this is not rocket science here, right. The more opportunities people have to vote and the easier it is to vote, the more people vote. The more people vote, both parties agree, the better it is for Democrats.”