Ron DeSantis has disenfranchised more Black voters than anyone alive
How the "Craft Beer Trump" became big Republican donors' dream candidate.
You know about all the foul things Ron DeSantis has been doing as he waddles around, trying to become the next foul Republican president.
But you probably haven’t heard much about the worst thing he’s done — his original sin against democracy that has made his rise to become the heir apparent to Trumpism possible.
When Ron was barely elected governor of Florida in 2018 by a margin of votes smaller than the 126th largest city in the Sunshine State, 32,463, he knew he had a problem.
And that problem was that he could face reelection in a state with a lot more voters, specifically a lot more Black voters. As 4,076,186 Floridians voted to make him governor, 5,148,926 voted for Amendment 4, which was designed to restore the voting rights of citizens who had served time for a felony. Florida has been one of the handful of states, mostly all of which has been part of the Confederacy, that persisted with this Klan-era trick to keep, primarily, Black voters from voting.
Before voters passed Amendment 4, “more than one in five of Florida’s Black voting-age population was disenfranchised,” according to the Brennan Center.
Facing an influx of new voters, including hundreds of thousands of new Black voters who would likely overwhelmingly vote Democratic (because of things like what the Florida GOP was about to do), the Florida GOP went about adding a poll tax to Amendment 4 that requires voters to pay off any existing judgements or court fees before registering, even if the amount they owed could not be determined.
An expert report found that this obviously unconstitutional law (in a world where we didn’t have a stolen GOP Supreme Court) would disproportionately disenfranchise Black voters, since this sort of disenfranchisement is designed to disenfranchise Black voters, keeping more than 240,000 Black voters from the polls. A very significant number in a state where a presidential candidate rarely wins the state by more than 240,000 voters.
When Ron DeSantis signed this poll tax into law in 2019, he disenfranchised more voters, specifically more Black voters, than any living American.*
Though this even largely went unnoticed, but big GOP donors saw it and loved it.
This was the birth of Ron as a “serious” candidate for president. He had shown that he could connect the birtherism of Trump with the slier bureaucratic racism of the Bushes. For it was improperly removing Black voters from Florida’s voting rolls in 2000 based on felon disenfranchisement that made the election close enough for George W. Bush to swipe and led to the GOP war on voting that has largely defined this century and made Trump possible.
With an electorate shaved of any new voters to impress and skewing to the right as retirees flood the state from the rest of the nation, Ron was freed to forget governing to focus on using “racism as a strategy” as he trolls his way toward the Republican presidential nomination.
Greg Sargent — aided by leading expert on administrative burdens Don Moynihan and publisher of “Can We Govern?” — has a great piece about the “ominous” ways a “Competent Trump” (which is how many on the right fancy Ron) could jam the gears of government to inflict much more damage of the good we do together.
But we shouldn’t forget that it was is voter suppression — the most evil of all administrative burdens — that has made Ron’s rise possible (though far from inevitable given that Trump would likely crumble him up the way he did Marco Rubio and Ted Cruz).
And now Ron’s using his unearned power to not only punish his enemies in clear violation of the First Amendment but to do what he does best — further diminish the electoral power of Black voters.
* When it comes to the crown of disenfranchising the most Americans, Ron’s only real competitor — as far as I can reckon — is the Republican majority on our Supreme Court, led by John Roberts. But these unelected politicians merely loaded the gun for evils like DeSantis carried out. Ron pulled the trigger.