In 2008, more than half of Floridians voted before Election Day, a process that former Republican Gov. Jeb Bush (R) called “wonderful.” Yet early voting has been under attack recently in Florida. Last year, the state legislature passed a voter suppression bill that slashed early voting in the state from two weeks to eight days, including cutting out the Sunday before the election, a day when many congregants in black churches would vote en masse. Worse, this appears to be part of a much larger effort to suppress the vote in Florida. Gov. Rick Scott (R-FL), for example, is currently engaged in a massive effort to remove as many as 180,000 people from the voting rolls.
ThinkProgress spoke with West about this rollback after a town hall meeting Tuesday. West was critical of “this early voting thing,” protesting that “people see it as an entitlement”:
KEYES: Obviously the state legislature rolled back a lot of the early voting days, including cutting out the Sunday before the Tuesday for voting. I’ve been speaking with a lot of voters down here and they have programs called, for instance, “Souls to the Polls” where a lot of black churches and historically Latino churches would go to church on the first Sunday of the month and then go everybody transport and vote. That’s cut out now because now it’s cut off at the Saturday before the Tuesday election. Does that concern you at all, does that bother you?
WEST: No, I think that when you look at our voting process here in the United States of America, it really comes down to you should be able to go out and vote on Election Day. If you cannot get out to vote on Election Day, you get an absentee ballot. I think that this early voting thing was something we provided and now some people see it as an entitlement, which is really not consistent with constitutional voting practices and procedures.
Early voting has no business being a partisan issue. It simply allows people who can’t reach the polls on Election Day to still participate in our democracy. It also eases the burden on election officials who can spread out the process over weeks instead of a single day. West’s opposition to a program that even Jeb Bush admits is “great” and results in “high voter turnout” is inexplicable.