Republican lawmakers in states like Georgia, Texas and Wisconsin have spent the last several months introducing — and, in some cases, passing — laws designed to suppress largely Democratic voters ahead of the general election.
Nowhere have these efforts advanced further than in Florida, where Governor Rick Scott has defied the Department of Justice’s order to cease his highly controversial and ineffective voter roll purge, in which hundreds of eligible voters — including many Latinos and self-identified Democrats — have been booted from the rolls.
All of this has succeeded in politicizing the most impregnable institution of democracy: elections.
The Herald-Tribune in Sarasota, Florida reports that election supervisors, long considered dull administrative desk jobs with little to no influence on policy, have become hotly contested jobs attracting political heavyweights in some counties along the state’s West Coast:
• In Sarasota County, three-term county commissioner Jon Thaxton, a Republican, is challenging supervisor Kathy Dent.
• In Manatee County, state Sen. Mike Bennett, a Bradenton developer known for antagonizing Democrats in Tallahassee, is banking that his decade of name recognition will help him succeed retiring supervisor of elections Bob Sweat.
• In Charlotte County, former four-term county commissioner Adam Cummings is looking to unseat first-term incumbent Paul Stamoulis.
• In Hillsborough County, former state Rep. Rich Gloriso, a Republican, passed up an opportunity to run for the state Senate to instead run for supervisor of elections.
The trend is troubling, and could perhaps signal the next front in an ever-expanding political battlefield. Already, a handful of isolated Election Day incidents—most notably Waukesha County Clerk Kathy Nickolaus’ botched 2011 special election in Wisconsin—have stirred controversy.