Manatee commission ignores voting hardships in precinct closures

February 21, 2014 

Again, the ultra right members of the Manatee County commission, without holding even one public hearing, recently approved additional hardships to voting. They approved the closing of 30 polling places. Voters in mostly black and Hispanic precincts, including elderly and disabled, will need to travel farther to cast a vote.

Supervisor of Elections Mike Bennett cited efficiency since so many voters choose early voting plus fiscal savings to justify the closing of 30 polling places.

Mr. Bennett was asked how voters would get to the fewer polling sites. "Take the bus," he replied. Interestingly, when a resident asked how many commissioners or even if Mr. Bennett himself took a bus, none raised a hand.

The commissioners nodded heads throughout Bennett's slick presentation. Remember, when as a state senator, Mr. Bennett was a prime mover in the Florida voting reforms straight from the ALEC organization. He famously stated that voting should be hard, not easy.

Interestingly, those reforms restricted the voting rights of blacks, Hispanics, elderly, and students. Apparently, Bennett is continuing his assault on voting rights.

Not only are our voting rights being undermined but also as citizens in attendance at commission public meetings. Attendees are told "no clapping, no voicing of support is permitted." This in a space paid for by us, the taxpayers. I would remind the commissioners that the seats they sit in, the desks they sit at, the microphones they speak into are all paid for by us. I ask you, what's wrong with this picture?

Frank Dellert


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