Today is National Voter Registration Day, and of course Andrew Gillum, who has taken up the initiative to register a slew of new voters for the upcoming 2020 election, is excited. No, wait -- check that. He is “excitable.” Turns out, ahead of what is practically a national holiday for the former Tallahassee mayor and current CNN personality is instead a cause of concern.
Just before this joyous day could be properly celebrated, Gillum was instead resorting to that favorite pastime of the Democrats, charging that “voter suppression” was taking place. Something dire must have been discovered! Certainly some blatantly illegal and underhanded chicanery by the GOP has been exposed!
Oh ... K, then? At issue was the most unacceptable of occurrences, a website was not working correctly to the satisfaction of Andrew Gillum. The scare-quotes around “routine maintenance” was a nice touch. Now, of course, these are some serious charges, and some questions need to be answered! Starting with this one -- what vote was taking place that saw citizens having their rights denied?
Also, who exactly lost, or was denied the right to vote when a website was down on a Sunday morning for a matter of hours? Gillum’s hyperbolic tweet went out Sunday morning. The web page was back to being operational that afternoon. Democrats, though, saw some venal act in play. “Shuttering the online voter registration site, ‘for 'maintenance'” said Florida Democratic Party chairperson Terrie Rizzo, with all the bluster to match Gillum’s outrage, “is the latest act of voter suppression from a governor who has doubled down on voter suppression tactics during his short tenure."
Sure it does, Terrie. Or, it matches the timeline of a site going through a maintenance update, one that had been announced on the very same website ahead of Sunday’s disturbing shutdown. Sarah Revell, spokeswoman for the Florida Department of State, explained the site was being updated, and the charges of foul play were unfounded.
"RegisterToVoteFlorida.gov will be up and running this afternoon," Revell told The Hill on Sunday. "This maintenance window will help ensure the site is able to handle the anticipated increase in traffic on National Voter Registration Day on Tuesday." You mean they chose a slow traffic period in order to prepare for the anticipated rush today? Sounds less than ghastly. Especially, as Revell pointed out, they had announced the maintenance ahead of time, on the very same site.
Here's a question for which the Florida Dems and Terri Rizzo certainly cannot respond with a proper answer: If the website was down, how is it that this only managed to affect Democrats? Were Republicans somehow able to register in those dark hours, or did the closing for maintenance affect everyone? Rizzo, of course, would like it if you believe the former to be true.
Let's try to imagine what the reaction would be had the state not taken the steps to update the site ahead of today's activities. If there were any indication of a problem, the caterwauling over voter suppression would only be louder ... and the fundraising off of it only more intense.
Brad Slager, a Fort Lauderdale freelance writer, wrote this story exclusively for Sunshine State News. He writes on politics and the industry and his stories appear in such publications as RedState and The Federalist.