I read this headline and my mouth dropped. What the hell is wrong with the GOP? I suppose in their mind, the current political climate makes an insane rule like this quite sane.
President Bill Clinton spoke on this very issue yesterday while touting the 50th anniversary of the voting rights act of 1964 at the LBJ Library in Austin Texas.
Clinton spent much of his speech addressing last year’s U.S. Supreme Court ruling that struck down key provisions of the 1965 Voting Rights Act, which was also signed into law by Johnson. The ruling allows several states with a history of discriminatory voting laws, mostly in the south, to change election laws without federal approval.
“It sent a signal throughout the country,” Clinton said of the ruling. “We all know what this is about. This is a way of restricting a franchise after 50 years of expanding it … Is this was Martin Luther King gave his life for?” – NBC – KXAN
During the 2012 presidential election, voters reportedly waited on line for upwards of six hours. That wait alone is enough to deter would-be voters from going to the polls. But now residents in Florida’s most populous county will have another disincentive: they won’t be able to go to the bathroom.
Earlier this year, the Miami-Dade County Elections Department quietly implemented a policy to close the bathrooms at all polling facilities, according to disability rights lawyer Marc Dubin. Dubin said the policy change was in “direct response” to an inquiry to the Elections Department about whether they had assessed accessibility of polling place bathrooms to those with disabilities.
“I was expecting them to say either yes we have or yes we will,” Dubin said.
Instead, he received a written response announcing that the county would close all restrooms at polling places “to ensure that individuals with disabilities are not treated unfairly,” a January email stated. “[T]he Department’s policy is not to permit access to restrooms at polling sites on election days,” Assistant County Attorney Shanika Graves said in a Feb. 14 email. Elections Department officials did not immediately respond to ThinkProgress inquiries.
Dubin said he was “shocked” at this response, and not just because it suppresses the vote for everybody. The Americans with Disabilities Act also requires entities to make “reasonable accommodations” to those with disabilities. For those with a number of conditions, including diabetics and those taking diuretics, closing the restroom will make standing in that line impossible, and thus discriminate against disabled voters.
But those with disabilities are not the only ones who would suffer disproportionately from this policy. A Massachusetts Institute of Technology analysis found that blacks and Hispanicswaited almost twice as long to vote as whites in the 2012 presidential election. Another analysis found that this “time tax” also impacted young voters. And this would be one of a number Florida voter suppression policies that have a particular impact on the elderly.
The state’s next-most populous counties, Broward and Palm Beach, told the Sun Sentinelthey would not implement this policy.