Florida Voting System Under Scrutiny

USF political expert Susan MacManus says any legal challenge to a close election will focus on election reforms in place.


By Vickie Chachere

USF News


TAMPA, Fla. (Nov. 5, 2012) – With Florida’s vote in the 2012 Presidential Election likely to be close, new research from University of South Florida Political Science Professor Susan MacManus published Monday says legal challenges will most likely focus on the lack of uniformity in the state’s voting system.


In the new edition of the New England Journal of Political Science, MacManus has dissected Florida’s contested elections and details how the state’s current election reform controversies will set the stage for another contested election should the vote between President Obama and Gov. Mitt Romney finish close. MacManus’ research also shows how partisan-driven politics has continued to create complications for Florida’s elections.


The partisan divide in this critical swing state remains deep and wide on any election reform that is perceived as advantaging one party over the other,” MacManus writes.



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With early prognostications of another “nail-biter” presidential election in 2012, each major political party has been focused on positioning itself for contesting or defending the election results should there be a repeat recount, MacManus said.


Specifically, challenges are likely to emanate from Democrats’ allegations of Republicans’ differential treatment of different classes of voters: minorities v. whites; absentee v. in-person voters; disabled v. non-disabled voters; rural v. urban voters (early voting hours); and felons whose voting rights have been restored v. those still caught up in the Clemency Board’s backlog.


Republican challenges to the results would almost certainly focus on the duality created by preclearance requirement under Section V of the federal Voting Rights Act and the lack of uniformity of actions by county supervisors of elections in removing ineligibles from the voting rolls and fraud in absentee balloting and double-voting. In 2000, the GOP successfully challenged the lack of uniformity of Democrat Al Gore’s recount process (his focus on a limited number of counties rather than the state as a whole).


The complete article can be read at http://www.northeastern.edu/nepsa/journal/archives/the_new_england10/documents/The_Battle_Over_Electin_Reform_in_the_Swing_State_of_Florida.pdf.


Vickie Chachere can be reached at 813-974-6251.