Marco Rubio is fine with 6-hour lines to vote, since “that is only on Election Day”

Voters in Florida consistently have a more difficult time registering to vote, and casting ballots, than voters in practically any other state. Florida’s law imposing heavy restrictions on voter registration drives may have been blocked by a federal judge in 2012, but the state has succeeded in conducting massive purges of its voter rolls, cutting back early voting hours and enacting strict voter ID laws. It also remains one of the most difficult states for ex-felons to have their voting rights restored.

In 2012, conservatives in the state introduced so many ballot initiatives that some Floridians’ ballots were twelve pages long. This forced each voter to take longer to fill out their ballot, which led to corresponding increases in wait times — some voters had to wait as long as six or seven hours in order to vote. Those long lines have been shown to have decreased voter turnout in Florida by over 200,000 votes in 2012.

But don’t tell that to Marco Rubio, who seems positively unbothered by these barriers to voting in his home state. From Ari Berman at The Nation:

Marco Rubio, via Gage Skidmore / Flickr

Marco Rubio, via Gage Skidmore / Flickr

During a campaign stop in Des Moines on October 25, John Olsen, a 46-year-old substitute teacher from Ankeny, asked Rubio, “What about the six-hour long lines to vote in Miami?”

“That is only on Election Day,” Rubio responded.

It was a bizarre response from the Florida senator, seeming to suggest that long lines are okay if they occur on Election Day, when most people tend to cast a ballot. But it was also factually inaccurate. After Florida cut early voting from 14 days to eight days during the 2012 election, which Rubio supported, there were long lines throughout the early voting period.

Bizarre indeed. As a few Twitter users were quick to point out, Rubio’s answer is most reminiscent of Yogi Berra’s quip about a popular restaurant: “Nobody goes there anymore; it’s too crowded.” Rubio dismissed Olsen’s question by saying that the issue he raised isn’t an issue because it’s only an issue on the day it could be an issue. In other words, Olsen’s right and Rubio doesn’t care.

That wasn’t all, though. Olsen pressed Rubio on restrictions on Florida’s unsuccessful attempt to restrict voter registration drives and its erroneous purging of 12,000 voters from its rolls in 2000 (the state mis-labeled them as ex-felons). In both cases, Rubio simply said that “No one intentionally kept anyone from voting,” an answer that is both difficult to refute and irrelevant to the fact that many, many people were kept from voting. Again, Olsen is right and Rubio doesn’t care.

Finally, Olsen asked Rubio if he would support legislation currently pending in Congress that would restore the Voting Rights Act. Rubio claimed that he isn’t aware of it — possible, but unlikely given that the bill has received plenty of coverage since being introduced over six months ago.

Normally Republican politicians who benefit from voting rights restrictions will at least come up with a bad argument for why less voting is actually a good thing. Marco Rubio can’t even be bothered to do that much.

Jon Green graduated from Kenyon College with a B.A. in Political Science and high honors in Political Cognition. He worked as a field organizer for Congressman Tom Perriello in 2010 and a Regional Field Director for President Obama's re-election campaign in 2012. Jon writes on a number of topics, but pays especially close attention to elections, religion and political cognition. Follow him on Twitter at @_Jon_Green, and on Google+. .

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