MANATEE COUNTY, FL-At a public meeting last Tuesday, the Manatee County Board of Commissioners voted 6-1 to trim the number of voting precincts within the county in order to “save money” and offer more early voting sites “sometime in the future.” The vote was along party lines, with the only “no” vote coming from the single Democrat on the board. The proposal was put forward by Supervisor of Elections and part-time Obergruppenfuhrer Mike Bennett.
The move will cut in half the number of polling places in District 2, which is minority-heavy. During the public comment section of the meeting all ten speeches opposed the proposal. The local chapter of the NAACP and the Southern Christian Leadership Council also opposed the move.
Mr. Bennett brushed aside objections by saying that “District 2 had received preferential treatment in the past,” and it was time that they pulled their own weight. He said, “If the folks in District 2 are just too lazy and shiftless to wait six or seven hours in line in order to vote, then to hell with them.”
Mr. Bennett has long been an advocate of making it difficult for blacks and other minorities to vote. In 2011 and 2012 he backed “election reform” bills designed to make it harder for Democrats in general and blacks in particular to vote in statewide elections. The new law resulted in long lines outside polling places all over Florida. Mr. Bennett was unmoved by the long lines and said to a group of reporters, “I want the people of Florida to want to vote as bad as that person in Africa who’s willing to walk 200 miles…This should not be easy.”
Mr. Bennett then excused himself and left the meeting because, according to an aide, he had a late-night rally to attend in a nearby field.