Politics

Marco Rubio Says He Supports Multiple Voter Suppression Efforts

CREDIT: AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall

Republican presidential candidate Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., speaks during a campaign rally, Sunday, Jan. 31, 2016, at the University of Northern Iowa in Cedar Falls, Iowa.

Marco Rubio wants Iowa GOP voters to know how easy it will be to caucus for him tonight. His website lists three simple steps, explaining that people should just register as a Republican and arrive on time. “That’s it! Caucusing for Marco is that simple,” his website says.

But Rubio doesn’t really care how simple it is for voters to cast a ballot — especially if they’re not going to support him. The Nation reported Monday that an Iowa voter recently asked the Florida senator about the six-hour lines Miami voters were forced to wait in to vote in 2012.

Rubio responded: “That is only on Election Day.”

As the Nation reported, the response is both factually inaccurate — many early voters waited in multi-hour long lines — and alarming. Rubio’s comment suggests that he thinks it’s appropriate for voters to wait in line for six hours, if they go to vote on Election Day.

The obvious solution to long voting lines would be to expand early voting opportunities. But Rubio does not support expanding early voting.

In an interview in 2012, he disparaged efforts to expand voting to Sundays before Election Day, a reform that would help accommodate the large numbers of voters who cannot take time off during the work week to cast a ballot. African American voters also benefit from Sunday voting hours because many predominantly black churches around the country organize “Souls to the Polls” events that encourage churchgoers to vote after attending Sunday church services.

But Rubio said in 2012 that Sunday voting is not cost-effective.

“If you wanted to vote in Florida, there’s no reason why you can’t vote in Florida,” he said. “All you got to do is mail in an absentee ballot request and you’ll get it mailed to your house. You can go on Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, or you can go vote on Election Day right in your neighborhood. I mean, that’s a lot of voting. I mean, it’s certainly more than what you see in most of the parts of the world.”

At the Iowa campaign stop in October, 46-year-old Ankeny, Iowa-resident John Olsen also asked Rubio about Florida’s ex-felon voter purge in 2000. At the time, 12,000 registered voters were incorrectly labeled as ex-felons and were prevented from voting.

“No one intentionally kept anyone from voting,” Rubio responded. “It is unconstitutional and illegal to deliberately keep someone from voting.”

Whether or not the effort was deliberate, there’s no doubt that it occurred or that it helped swing the election in favor of George W. Bush.

Olsen then asked Rubio if he supports the recent legislation to restore Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act. Rubio said he was not familiar with the bill.

Though he doesn’t often talked about it on the campaign trail, Rubio has been a strong supporter of a number of voter suppression laws throughout his time in the Senate and in Florida. He supported the state’s 2012 voter purge, which a court has ruled violated federal law. Rubio claimed at the time that the effort to identify non-citizens on the voter rolls was worth falsely purging many other qualified voters.

And he has also blown off concerns about strict voter ID laws. “What’s the big deal?” he asked during a campaign stop in 2012.