Early Voting Controversy: Critics Say GOP Is Keeping Voters From The Polls In Key States

Polling stations in Ohio and Florida have experienced dramatically long waiting lines, prompting politicians and pundits on both sides to point the finger at the opposing party. But who is to blame? Is it simple partisan hackery or do both sides carry some responsibility for the restricted early voting controversy?

Early voter turnout has favored President Barack Obama, so it’s only natural to think that the policies and initiatives of the GOP are making it tough for voters to cast their ballots. Particularly singled out is Florida, where reports this weekend suggested that some voters had to wait as many as seven hours to cast their vote.

Andrew Cohen for The Atlantic sees this as unabashed partisanship on the part of the GOP who are so afraid of Democratic turnout that they purposely restrict the early voting period to keep people from the polls.

“This is happening not because of a natural disaster or breakdown in machinery. It is happening by partisan design. Alarmed by the strong Democratic turnout in early voting in 2008, Republican lawmakers, including Governor Rick Scott, reduced the number of early voting days from 14 to eight.”

Cohen also singles out Ohio, which has attempted to pass similar initiatives blocking early voting, or at the very least, truncating it to prevent Democrat votes from making a difference in this election. Though the many examples suggested by Cohen were usually struck down in court, he argues that voter suppression is a clear initiative on the part of the GOP, who hide under a mask of “stopping voter fraud,” which has proven largely nonexistent.

However, the voting fiasco in Florida has received criticism from right-leaning figures as well. Former New Jersey Gov. Christine Todd Whitman (R) said on MSNBC Monday that the Florida voting debacle made us look like a “third-world country.”

“I don’t know what went on in Florida, but I do have to say that in this day and age, it’s inexcusable that in this country, we have anything like this going on. I’ve led delegations around the world to watch voting and this is the kind of thing you expect in a third-world country, not in the United States of America.”

Whitman also shot down conspiracy cries that the GOP are purposefully keeping voters from the polls. “I don’t believe it’s a big Republican plot because if it is, it backfired mightily and others might want to take a good look at it,” Whitman said.

Furthermore, if it is indeed a “big Republican plot,” it’s not one that has wide support. Controversial New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, normally a vicious GOP bulldog, has made special concessions for victims of Hurricane Sandy, allowing them to vote via fax and email, increasing early voting access.

Furthermore, while more Democrats may have turned out for early voting, Whitman notes that they may not have voted with the party line. Time will tell.

Here’s Christine Whitman on MSNBC. Do you agree with Andrew Cohen that the GOP are behind voter difficulties in Florida and Ohio, or are there enough examples of Republican figures disavowing and working against this assumption to discredit it? Sound off below the video: