“This isn’t something the state couldn’t have predicted…We’ve been trying to tell them for months this was going to happen.”
Brad Ashwell, who is the Florida state director of the voter advocacy group All Voting is Local, said the additional hours the local government conceded for voter registration on Tuesday—after the registration system crashed Monday—were not enough.
“The extra seven hours they gave voters are something, but not nearly enough because people work, people have a life,” Ashwell told The Americano. “People don’t necessarily hear the news 24/7. Many may have heard about [the extension] with only an hour left.”
The director said All Voting is Local, along with 34 other organizations, tried unsuccessfully to convince the local government to extend the voter registration period for two more days, instead of extending it only until 7 p.m., Tuesday.
Ashwell said he fears this situation will affect people with fewer resources, such as Latino communities.
“It’s hard to say exactly who will be impacted more, but the ones who are typically marginalized during every process and at every turn are minorities,” said Ashwell. Whether it be registration efforts, access to the polls, allocated resources—study after study shows a disparity of impact on minority communities.”
The director explained the situation is “even more regrettable” as it is not the first time the system has problems.
“This is not an accident. This isn’t something the state couldn’t have predicted, they could easily predict it. We’ve been trying to tell them for months this was going to happen,” Ashwell said. “We’ve offered nonpartisan vendors who are willing to test the system and make sure it can handle the expected surge in users. This was completely predictable and enforceable. It’s a fact—they didn’t take steps to make sure the system is able to handle traffic. It’s unforgivable,” Ashwell said.
He also said that since 2017 voting rights organizations have insisted that the government recognize the importance of solving the voting system’s problems. The advocate stated that public documents verifying these requests to the government do exist—and yet the system continues to fail when people need it most.
With everything that has happened involving the polling system, and the current political climate, the director says he “cannot help thinking” about what may occur on Election Day.
“These things are like a wild card,” Ashwell said. “This president we have right now is capable of who knows what. A lot of us are looking at different possibilities. He’s given much indication that he’s not to go gracefully from office if he’s voted out. So many are concerned about what that looks like, and trying to figure out how to respond appropriately if it happens.”
The advocate said his concerns are also based on Florida’s history with elections. For instance, he remembers how Trump barely won the state in 2016 with a 1.2% margin over Hillary Clinton.
Ashwell hopes the coming election is won by a large margin.
“In Florida, we’re known for close races,” he said. “If we look at voter registration numbers, the party split is very close now. I think we can easily expect a very close election and another recount. Hopefully, we won’t get into that, but if it happens, Florida has some experience and that’s good.”