Sunday, September 12, 2004

A conscience is such a handicap. Look what Katharine Harris accomplished in Florida in 2000--sans scruples. This campaign season, Democrats have to expend a lot of energy just trying to parry Repug dirty tricks, and the G.O.P. is worried enough to invent a variety of them. First, of course, they started with the tried and true: a huge Florida list of registered voters about to be purged from the rolls as supposed felons--mainly black (i.e. Democratic) voters, what else? Republicans refused to divulge who was on the list until the Dems took them to court. As I said, their sleazy tactics waste our energy. Oh, and don't forget how they sent police officers to question and intimidate elderly black voters in Florida--voters who remember with fear the days before the Civil Rights Movement.
Apparently, the Republicans are concerned about Democratic registration drives--as well they should be. A Houston Democrat who is a deputized voter registrar is suddenly being denied voter registration forms. When he pressed the head supervisor at the courthouse for reasons, she offered to let him speak to a police officer (there's the intimidation factor again). A more organized attempt to stop voter registration occurred this week at the University of Arizona. A campus voter registration drive was interrupted when a van from the local Fox affiliate pulled up, cameras rolling, and said it was a felony to register out-of-state students. As the workers pointed out, that's not true; the law says that, to register, voters have to have lived in Arizona 29 days. That evening the Fox station repeated the felony nonsense in an attempt to frighten student voters. And the Arizona Secretary of State won't back up the student registrars.
During the South Dakota primary, Native American voters were sent to the wrong polling places, and given misleading information about the ID they need to vote.
Naturally, blacks are being disproportionately targeted since they vote Democratic so consistently. Bob Herbert's New York Times column today opens this way:
More than 80 percent of the population of Detroit is black. This is very well understood by John Pappageorge, who is white and a Republican state legislator in Michigan. "If we do not suppress the Detroit vote," said Mr. Pappageorge, "we're going to have a tough time in this election."
Herbert offers a hotline number--1-866-OUR-VOTE. He explains that "That's a hot line set up by the Election Protection Coalition, a group that was formed to identify and stamp out attempts to disenfranchise voters, especially in predominantly black and Latino precincts around the country."
Click here if you want to see the article.
We can do more than gasp in disbelief. If you would like to work monitoring a polling site on November 2, you can volunteer--with a friend, if you want to--at Election Protection Volunteer. I'm going to volunteer in St. Louis. Anybody want to join me?

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