" Granted, even Dahl admitted that no state or nation would ever be able to create a totally fair and just society. In his essay "Justifying Democracy" he acknowledged that "…the values and goals I advocate and hope will prevail will always be strongly contested" (Dahl, 47). He goes on to say that he is not at all confident that his values "…will necessarily predominate," but they will not become reality "…if those who believe in these goals fail to support them as best they can" (47).
Certainly his goal for a fair and just America does not include support for the draconian policies put forward by those who seek to limit the voters purely out of a corrupt passion for power. That having been said, every sincere leader of every democratic state should have as a top priority the desire to make democracy work for all citizens. Every leader should also root out tactics that are clearly deceptive, illegal, and undemocratic.
Among the tactics that go against democracy and against what Dahl advocated are those employed in Florida during the presidential election of 2012. To wit, a new study shows that "…tens of thousands of people were actually discouraged from voting" due to the long lines at polling places (Terkel, 2012). Why were there long lines that kept people standing in line for up to nine hours? The answer is very clear. The Republican-controlled legislature cut back the number of days that had been available for voters who wished to vote early. In 2008, Florida had established 14 days for early voting, but in 2012, Republicans were apparently desperately trying to get Mitt Romney elected and they knew that the majority of people who vote early tend to support Democrat candidates. Hence, they reduced the early voting opportunities to 8 days.
Moreover, they shortened the number of hours available during those 8 days, and according to Theodore Allen, associate professor industrial engineering at Ohio State University, who conducted the research, "…as many as 49,000 individuals in Central Florida did not vote because of the problems at the polls" (Terkel, p. 1). Black and Latino voters were "…disproportionately disenfranchised," Terkel explains, using Allen's data.
In conclusion, it is indefensible to have some states in the U.S. deliberately suppressing people from carrying out their Constitutional right to vote. It is also unconscionable that politicians can use tactics that are frankly undemocratic and borderline evil and get away with it. Dahl's idealistic view of democracy notwithstanding, American politics will never be perfect, but leaders should endeavor to enfranchise citizens, not the other way around.
Office of Governor Rick Scott / State of Florida
The Capitol / 400 S. Monroe Street
Tallahassee FL. 32399-0001
Dear Governor Scott:
Thank you for your prompt attention to my letter. I am very concerned about the issue of voter suppression in your state. I saw the long lines of people waiting to vote, patiently waiting up to nine hours just to register their vote because your policies included a cutback in the hours that voting polls were open.
The Orlando Sentinel recently published findings that show as many as 49,000 Floridians did not vote due to impossibly log-jammed situations at the polls. The study was done by Theodore Allen, professor of industrial engineering from Ohio State University, who was a neutral empirical researcher with no ax to grind vis-a-vis your state's policies and politics.
May I ask why your administration and members of your party in the Florida Legislature decided to cut back early voting from 14 to 8 days for the 2012 election? If I remember correctly there were lengthy lines at Florida polling places in the 2008 election -- so why would a governor authorize even fewer days of early voting for the 2012 presidential election?
Was this cutback politically motivated? Did you authorize and advocate for a shorter early voting opportunity because you knew that you would be suppressing the votes of likely Democrats? Were you blatantly trying to prevent African-American and Latino voters from selecting Barack Obama rather than your Republican candidate, Mitt Romney?