Wednesday, September 01, 2004

Republicans Suppress Vote

This from the good folks at and America Coming Together. As always, the proof is in the footnotes!

Last month John Pappageorge, a Republican state representative in Michigan, told a journalist that the Republicans would do poorly if they failed to "suppress the Detroit vote." Detroit, of course, is 83% black.[1]

Democratic officials expressed their outrage, and Pappageorge eventually apologized for his words, but his statement spoke to a bigger truth: Republicans continue to actively suppress black and minority votes in order to win elections through intimidation, misinformation, and tampering with voter rolls and records. In 2000, the black voters who were not allowed to vote would have almost certainly swung the election in Al Gore's favor. And the practice continues: a recent report from the NAACP and the People for the American Way Foundation documents suppression tactics in use right now.[2]

The Republican Party's continued silence is shameful. We're joining with Julian Bond, Chairman of the NAACP*, Reverend Jesse Jackson, President of the Rainbow/Push Coalition*, Congresswoman Maxine Waters and Congressman Jesse Jackson, Jr. and others to demand that the Republican Party abandon these racist, unfair, and undemocratic tactics and condemn anyone in their ranks who uses them.

Many of the leaders above and other signers will personally deliver this petition to the Bush/Cheney campaign headquarters next month, so please sign today and ask your friends to sign.

Just last week, Bob Herbert of the New York Times wrote a column describing armed, plain-clothes officers from the Florida state police (which reports directly to Governor Jeb Bush) going into the homes of elderly black voters and interrogating them, supposedly as part of an investigation into voter fraud. While ostensibly random, several of those questioned were members of the Orlando League of Voters, a group that has been very successful in mobilizing the city's black vote. According to Herbert, this supposed "investigation" has resulted in a blanket of fear, leaving organizers afraid to work and voters afraid of contact with campaign workers.[3]

Four years ago, Florida election officials removed over 52,000 voters from the rolls under the guise of "cleansing" the list of felons. Over 90% of those purged were not guilty of any crime and 54% were African-American, a group which, in Florida, are likely to vote Democratic over 90% of the time.[4] The company that provided the purge list warned Florida officials that thousands of eligible voters would likely be disenfranchised in the process, but Katherine Harris, the Florida Secretary of State who also served as state campaign manager for George W. Bush, went forward with the purge anyway. The result was thousands of voters not allowed to vote in an election that was decided by just over 500 votes.

It's not just Florida. A joint report from People for the American Way Foundation and the NAACP "The Long Shadow of Jim Crow: Voter Intimidation and Suppression in America Today" highlights recent attempts to suppress African-American and minority voting, documenting instances of the following:[5]

Challenges and threats against individual voters at the polls by armed private guards, off-duty law enforcement officers, local creditors, fake poll monitors, and poll workers and managers.

Signs posted at the polling place warning of penalties for "voter fraud" or "non-citizen" voting, or illegally urging support for a candidate.

Poll workers "helping" voters fill out their ballots, and instructing them on how to vote.

Criminal tampering with voter registration rolls and records.

Fliers and radio ads containing false information about where, when and how to vote, voter eligibility, and the false threat of penalties.

Internal memos from party officials in which the explicit goal of suppressing black voter turnout is outlined.

Here are a few other incidents highlighted in the report and elsewhere:

In 2003, in Pennsylvania, men with clipboards bearing official-looking insignias were reportedly dispatched to African American neighborhoods. Tom Lindenfeld, who ran a counter-intimidation campaign for Democratic candidate John Street, said there were 300 cars with the decals resembling such federal agencies as the DEA and ATF and that the men were asking prospective voters for identification. In a post-election poll of 1000 African-American voters, seven percent said they had encountered such efforts.

In 2002, in Louisiana, fliers were distributed in African American communities stating, "Vote!!! Bad Weather? No problem!!! If the weather is uncomfortable on election day [Saturday, December 7th], remember you can wait and cast your ballot on Tuesday, December 10th." In a separate incident, apparently targeting potential supporters of Democratic Senator Mary Landrieu, the Louisiana Republican Party admitted to paying African American youths $75 to hold signs aloft on street corners in black neighborhoods that appeared to discourage African-Americans from voting.

Last month, in South Dakota, Native American voters were sent to the wrong polling places, and given misleading information about the ID they need to vote.[6]

Stopping eligible voters from voting is a basic affront to democracy. It is an outrage for any political party to condone or encourage the practice, especially given the history of African-Americans and other minorities being disenfranchised in our country. In the vast majority of these cases, Republicans are the perpetrators or it's a Republican candidate that stands to benefit.

-- James Rucker, Laura Dawn, and the rest of the MoveOn PAC team

(3 originally at:

(Thanks to Dave for sending this along!)

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