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January 17, 2012

Sharpton announces Selma-Montgomery march in support of voting rights

News One reports: This morning at National Action Network?s (NAN) annual King Day Breakfast in Washington, D.C., NAN Founder and President Rev. Al Sharpton made key announcements in the spirit of Dr. Martin Luther, King, Jr.

First, Rev. Sharpton announced that during the remembrance of Bloody Sunday beginning March 4th he will lead a 5-day March commemorating the historic 1965 Selma to Montgomery Voting Rights March. The march will begin at the Edmund Pettus Bridge ending with a rally at the Alabama State Capitol on Friday, March 9. The March is in support of Voting Rights and to highlight the continuing efforts against Voter Suppression.

This includes the efforts to defeat Voter Identification Laws and reverse anti-Immigration laws in the state of Alabama. Secondly, Rev. Sharpton announced that National Action Network will lead a rally on March 27th in Washington, DC, at the United States Supreme Court as arguments are heard on Obama Care. -- Read the whole story --> Al Sharpton Announces Voting Rights March At King Day Breakfast | News One

November 1, 2008

A collection of voting problems

ProPublica's VoteWatch culls breaking news on voting issues from around the web, focusing in particular on key swing states where problems (ranging from voter registration to machine malfunction to alleged fraud or suppression) are anticipated. -- ProPublica VoteWatch - ProPublica

October 29, 2008

"Republican Voter Suppression: A Guide"

TPM Muckraker reports: There are so many Republican gambits designed to make voting more difficult -- specifically for Democrats, of course -- that it can be hard to keep track of them all. So here's a handy -- and by no means comprehensive -- guide to what's happening in some of the key swing states. -- TPMMuckraker | Talking Points Memo | Republican Voter Suppression: A Guide

October 24, 2008

Lawyer 2 Lawyer interviews Brenda Wright and Ed Still

Description: Voter fraud, faulty equipment, voter purges, 3rd party registration problems-These are just some of the issues plaguing elections past and present. Law.com blogger and host, J. Craig Williams welcome experts, Attorney Brenda Wright, Legal Director of Demos, and Attorney Edward Still a Birmingham lawyer who specializes in voting law and founder of the blog, Votelaw.com. They will discuss legal issues surrounding voter’s rights, voter fraud, election litigation and what can and can't be done to recruit voters. -- LegalTalkNetwork, MP3 Link, and WMA Link.

October 20, 2008

RFK Jr: GOP "fixed" the 2004 election

Robert F. Kennedy Jr. writes in Rolling Stone: But despite the media blackout, indications continued to emerge that something deeply troubling had taken place in 2004. Nearly half of the 6 million American voters living abroad3 never received their ballots — or received them too late to vote4 — after the Pentagon unaccountably shut down a state-of-the-art Web site used to file overseas registrations5. A consulting firm called Sproul & Associates, which was hired by the Republican National Committee to register voters in six battleground states6, was discovered shredding Democratic registrations7. In New Mexico, which was decided by 5,988 votes8, malfunctioning machines mysteriously failed to properly register a presidential vote on more than 20,000 ballots9. Nationwide, according to the federal commission charged with implementing election reforms, as many as 1 million ballots were spoiled by faulty voting equipment — roughly one for every 100 cast10.

The reports were especially disturbing in Ohio, the critical battleground state that clinched Bush's victory in the electoral college. Officials there purged tens of thousands of eligible voters from the rolls, neglected to process registration cards generated by Democratic voter drives, shortchanged Democratic precincts when they allocated voting machines and illegally derailed a recount that could have given Kerry the presidency. A precinct in an evangelical church in Miami County recorded an impossibly high turnout of ninety-eight percent, while a polling place in inner-city Cleveland recorded an equally impossible turnout of only seven percent. In Warren County, GOP election officials even invented a nonexistent terrorist threat to bar the media from monitoring the official vote count11.

Any election, of course, will have anomalies. America's voting system is a messy patchwork of polling rules run mostly by county and city officials. "We didn't have one election for president in 2004," says Robert Pastor, who directs the Center for Democracy and Election Management at American University. "We didn't have fifty elections. We actually had 13,000 elections run by 13,000 independent, quasi-sovereign counties and municipalities."

But what is most anomalous about the irregularities in 2004 was their decidedly partisan bent: Almost without exception they hurt John Kerry and benefited George Bush. After carefully examining the evidence, I've become convinced that the president's party mounted a massive, coordinated campaign to subvert the will of the people in 2004. Across the country, Republican election officials and party stalwarts employed a wide range of illegal and unethical tactics to fix the election. A review of the available data reveals that in Ohio alone, at least 357,000 voters, the overwhelming majority of them Democratic, were prevented from casting ballots or did not have their votes counted in 200412 — more than enough to shift the results of an election decided by 118,601 votes13. -- Was the 2004 Election Stolen?

October 3, 2008

Montana: University students protest GOP vote suppression

The Missoulian reports: About 18 people, most of them University of Montana students, rallied outside the Republican Party’s Missoula office Thursday, accusing the GOP of trying to suppress their votes.

The protest, organized by Forward Montana, a nonprofit that encourages political involvement, was in response to the state Republican Party’s challenge to the eligibility of 6,000 registered voters n 3,422 of whom live in Missoula County. ...

Protesters at the rally stood on the sidewalk on Brooks Street hoisting placards with slogans such as “Suppress This” or “Is Missoula Next” superimposed over a map of Florida.

Montana GOP executive director Jacob Eaton said it is “absurd” to say his party is trying to suppress students’ votes. The party is just trying to ensure that election laws are obeyed. -- University of Montana students protest GOP challenge of voter registrations

July 2, 2007

Republican National Lawyers Association and ACVR involved in Rove's scheme

McClatchy Newspapers report: A New Mexico lawyer who pushed to oust U.S. Attorney David Iglesias was an officer of a nonprofit group that aided Republican candidates in 2006 by pressing for tougher voter identification laws.

Iglesias, who was one of nine U.S. attorneys the administration fired last year, said that Albuquerque lawyer Patrick Rogers pressured him several times to bring voter fraud prosecutions where little evidence existed. ...

Rogers, a former general counsel to the New Mexico Republican Party and a candidate to replace Iglesias, is among a number of well-connected GOP partisans whose work with the legislative fund and a sister group played a significant role in the party's effort to retain control of Congress in the 2006 election.

That strategy, which presidential advisor Karl Rove alluded to in an April 2006 speech to the Republican National Lawyers Association, sought to scrutinize voter registration records, win passage of tougher ID laws and challenge the legitimacy of voters considered likely to vote Democratic. -- GOP links to vote-fraud push - 07/01/2007 - MiamiHerald.com

June 25, 2007

Ohio: DOJ sided with GOP effort to purge 23,000 black voters in 2004

McClatchy Newspapers reports: Four days before the 2004 election, the Justice Department's civil rights chief sent an unusual letter to a federal judge in Ohio who was weighing whether to let Republicans challenge the credentials of 23,000 mostly black voters.

The case was triggered by allegations that Republicans had sent a mass mailing to mostly Democratic-leaning minorities and used undeliverable letters to compile a list of voters potentially vulnerable to eligibility challenges.

In his letter to U.S. District Judge Susan Dlott of Cincinnati, Assistant Attorney General Alex Acosta argued that it would ''undermine'' the enforcement of state and federal election laws if citizens could not challenge voters' credentials.

Former Justice Department civil rights officials and election watchdog groups charge that his letter sided with Republicans engaging in an illegal, racially motivated tactic known as ''vote-caging'' in a state that would be pivotal in delivering President Bush a second term in the White House.

Acosta's letter is among a host of allegedly partisan Justice Department voting rights positions that could draw scrutiny on Capitol Hill in the coming weeks as congressional Democrats expand investigations sparked by the firing of at least nine U.S. attorneys. -- Attorney under fire for Ohio voter letter - 06/25/2007 - MiamiHerald.com

June 8, 2007

FEC nominee von Spakovsky's hearing begins next week

The Washington Post reports: As his critics see it, Hans A. von Spakovsky used every opportunity he had over four years in the Justice Department to make it difficult for voters -- poor, minority and Democratic -- to go to the polls. During his tenure, more than half of the career lawyers in the voting section left in protest.

Von Spakovsky now serves as a temporary commissioner on the Federal Election Commission, the bipartisan body that enforces campaign finance regulations. And a Senate Rules Committee hearing set for Wednesday on whether to confirm him for a six-year term could become a critical moment in the debate over political influence in the Justice Department.

Voting rights activists and campaign finance watchdogs are urging lawmakers to take a stand against von Spakovsky's nomination. "He failed to understand his role was not to be a representative of the Republican Party," said Joseph Rich, a former voting section chief who worked under von Spakovsky, who was then counsel to the assistant attorney general for civil rights.

Von Spakovsky was appointed to the FEC in January 2006 during a congressional recess along with two Democrats. A fourth commissioner, a Republican, was renominated. All four will come before the Senate panel next week, but von Spakovsky is the most controversial. They all declined to comment before the hearing. -- Hearing on FEC Pick Could Add Fuel to Debate Over Justice Dept.

June 6, 2007

Schlozman did not think voting indictments before election would affect election

The St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports: The former U.S. attorney in Kansas City testified Tuesday that he approved indictments against a voter-registration group four days before last year's hotly contested Missouri Senate election because he regarded Justice Department guidelines against such actions as "informal."

Bradley Schlozman, now a high-ranking Justice Department official, said he was not particularly familiar with the part of the Justice Department manual that discouraged such indictments just before elections, but added, "I believe I was probably aware of it."

Schlozman, a Republican, repeatedly told the Senate Judiciary Committee he did not recall conversations or events about various issues. But he firmly denied any wrongdoing, responding to sharp questioning by Democrats. He also said he had no role in the removal of his predecessor, Todd Graves.

At the same time, he defended filing the voter-fraud indictments. "I did not think it was going to influence the election at all," Schlozman said.

Graves had declined to open an investigation into the alleged voter fraud case before he was replaced by Schlozman. -- Political storm brews over testimony

Other coverage of the testimony: NPR's Morning Edition (no link yet)

The New York Times: The Democrats took turns holding up a manual of department rules, asking Mr. Schlozman, who left department headquarters for a year to become the interim United States attorney in Kansas City, Mo., why his office there filed a fraud case against former employees of a liberal group that registers voters just a week before the 2006 election.

The manual, the senators pointed out, said that “most, if not all, investigations of an alleged election crime must await the end of the election,” to avoid influencing the outcome.

Mr. Schlozman, 36, who kept his voice low and his demeanor polite through the hostile questioning, said he was aware of this rule. But he said he had been given approval by the head of the Justice Department election crimes section to move ahead.

“I didn’t think this was going to have any impact on any election,” he said.

Then Senator Russ Feingold, Democrat of Wisconsin, read a news release issued by the Republican Party in Missouri just after the case was filed, which accused the voter registration group of trying “to cause chaos and controversy at the polls in order to help Democrats to try to steal next week’s elections.” -- Panel Asks Official About Politics in Hiring

The Los Angeles Times: Schlozman, who is back in Washington at the Justice Department, said he sought the indictments after getting approval from department officials, who advised him that the case would not influence the upcoming election.

Schlozman said he was directed by Washington to release a statement about the indictments, saying in part that the charges were part of a national investigation into voter fraud. He added that several Republican groups immediately released their own statements about the indictments, suggesting that Democrats were "trying to steal the election" with voter registration abuse.

Several Senate Democrats expressed anger at how the episode played out in Missouri, with Sen. Patrick J. Leahy of Vermont, the Judiciary Committee chairman, arguing that Republicans like Schlozman in the Justice Department ignored their own guidelines in order to advance their conservative ideology.

Holding aloft a copy of the handbook, Leahy told Schlozman: "You used this more for a doorstop that anything else." -- Indictments may have bent Justice's rules

May 22, 2007

Von Spakovsky's dual role under scrutiny

McClatchy Newspapers reports: During four years as a Justice Department civil rights lawyer, Hans von Spakovsky went so far in a crusade against voter fraud as to warn of its dangers under a pseudonym in a law journal article.

Writing as ''Publius,'' von Spakovsky contended that every voter should be required to produce a photo identification card and that there was ''no evidence'' that such restrictions burden minority voters disproportionately.

Now, amid a scandal over politicization of the Justice Department, Congress is beginning to examine allegations that von Spakovsky was a key player in a Republican campaign to hang onto power in Washington by suppressing the votes of minority voters.

''Mr. von Spakovsky was central to the administration's pursuit of strategies that had the effect of suppressing the minority vote,'' charged Joseph Rich, a former Justice Department voting rights chief who worked under him. -- Anti-voter fraud effort's politics under scrutiny

May 16, 2007

"The Voter Fraud Fraud"

Bonnie Goldstein writes in Salon.com (and has 5 pages of the suppressed draft of the voter fraud paper delivered to the EAC): When allegations surfaced of voter fraud or voter suppression in key states in the 2004 presidential election, the federal Election Assistance Commission ordered a study to "determine the quantity and quality of vote fraud and voter intimidation on a national scale."

Two consultants, one Republican (Job Serebrov) and one Democrat (Tova Wang), were hired to draw up a preliminary overview based on interviews, news stories, applicable case law, government reports, position papers from advocacy groups, and academic studies. In their "predecisional" draft (excerpted below and on the following four pages) Serebrov and Wang reported that "the only interviewee who believe[d] that polling place fraud is widespread" was Jason Torchinsky of the American Center for Voting Rights, a conservative organization that's been accused of fronting for the GOP. (It's Republicans who typically complain about voter fraud, because the allegations are usually directed at minority and low-income voters who tend to vote Democratic.) Most other interviewees, though not unanimous, showed "widespread ... agreement that there is little polling place fraud" (Page 4). Nonetheless, the draft report observed, the Justice Department's public integrity section is pursuing voter fraud cases energetically: "While the number of election fraud related complaints have not gone up since 2002 … the number of indictments the section is pursuing" against "alien voters, felon voters, and double voters" has risen substantially (Page 5). -- The Voter Fraud Fraud

May 14, 2007

"Voter fraud" drove dismissal of 5 of 12 US Attorneys

The Washington Post reports: Nearly half the U.S. attorneys slated for removal by the administration last year were targets of Republican complaints that they were lax on voter fraud, including efforts by presidential adviser Karl Rove to encourage more prosecutions of election- law violations, according to new documents and interviews.

Of the 12 U.S. attorneys known to have been dismissed or considered for removal last year, five were identified by Rove or other administration officials as working in districts that were trouble spots for voter fraud -- Kansas City, Mo.; Milwaukee; New Mexico; Nevada; and Washington state. Four of the five prosecutors in those districts were dismissed.

It has been clear for months that the administration's eagerness to launch voter-fraud prosecutions played a role in some of the firings, but recent testimony, documents and interviews show the issue was more central than previously known. The new details include the names of additional prosecutors who were targeted and other districts that were of concern, as well as previously unknown information about the White House's role.

The Justice Department demanded that one U.S. attorney, Todd P. Graves of Kansas City, resign in January 2006, several months after he refused to sign off on a Justice lawsuit involving the state's voter rolls, Graves said last week. U.S. Attorney Steven M. Biskupic of Milwaukee also was targeted last fall after complaints from Rove that he was not doing enough about voter fraud. But he was spared because Justice officials feared that removing him might cause political problems on Capitol Hill, according to interviews of Justice aides conducted by congressional staff members. -- Voter-Fraud Complaints by GOP Drove Dismissals - washingtonpost.com

April 26, 2007

A statement from Tova Andrea Wang re the EAC

Tova Andrea Wang, Co-Author of the Voter Fraud and Voter Intimidation Report for the Election Assistance Commission, Calls for an End to the Censorship

Over the last few weeks, there has been a developing controversy in the press and in the Congress over a report on voter fraud and voter intimidation I co-authored for the Election Assistance Commission ("EAC"). It has been my desire to participate in this discussion and share my experience as a researcher, expert and co-author of the report. Unfortunately, the EAC has barred me from speaking. Early last week, through my attorney, I sent a letter to the Commission requesting that they release me from this gag order. Despite repeated follow-up, the EAC has failed to respond to this simple request. In the meantime, not only can I not speak to the press or public -- it is unclear under the terms of my contract with the EAC whether I can even answer questions from members of Congress.

My co-author and I submitted our report in July 2006; the EAC finally released its version of the report in December 2006. As numerous press reports indicate, the conclusions that we found in our research and included in our report were revised by the EAC, without explanation or discussion with me, my co-author or the general public. From the beginning of the project to this moment, my co-author and I have been bound in our contracts with the EAC to silence regarding our work, subject to lawsuits and civil liability if we violate the EAC-imposed gag order. Moreover, from July to December, no member of the EAC Commission or staff contacted me or my co-author to raise any concerns about the substance of our research. Indeed, after I learned that the EAC was revising our report before its public release, I contacted the EAC, and they refused to discuss with me the revisions, or the reasons such revisions were necessary.

Stifling discussion and debate over this report and the critical issues it addresses is contrary to the mission and goals of the EAC and to the goal of ensuring honest and fair elections in this country. Commissioner Hillman stated in her defense of the EAC's actions that the EAC seeks to "ensure improvements in the administration of federal elections so that all eligible voters will be able to vote and have that vote recorded and counted accurately." I share this aspiration. But I believe that the best way to achieve that end is not by suppressing or stifling debate and discussion, but by engaging in a thoughtful process of research and dialogue that ultimately arrives at the truth about the problems our voting system currently confronts.

April 20, 2007

DOJ's voter suppression campaign

The McClatchy Newspapers reports: For six years, the Bush administration, aided by Justice Department political appointees, has pursued an aggressive legal effort to restrict voter turnout in key battleground states in ways that favor Republican political candidates, according to former department lawyers and public records and documents.

The administration intensified its efforts last year as President Bush's popularity and Republican support eroded heading into a mid-term battle for control of Congress, which the Democrats won.

Facing nationwide voter registration drives by Democratic-leaning groups, the administration alleged widespread election fraud and endorsed proposals for tougher state and federal voter identification laws. Presidential political advisor Karl Rove alluded to the strategy in April 2006 when he railed about voter fraud in a speech to the Republican National Lawyers Association. ...

Civil rights advocates charge that the administration's policies were intended to disenfranchise hundreds of thousands of poor and minority voters who tend to support Democrats, and by filing state and federal lawsuits, civil rights groups have won court rulings blocking some of its actions. -- Voter turnout limits said to be White House goal - 04/19/2007 - MiamiHerald.com

April 13, 2007

"And The Colossal Chutzpah Award Goes To Karl Rove"

Jack Balkin writes on Balkinization: During the past seven years of the Bush Administration, Republican officials have continuously claimed that there has been massive voter fraud; they have pushed for voter id laws that will suppress turnout among elderly, minority, and immigrant voters, who-- entirely coincidentally-- are likely to vote Democratic. These arguments were made repeatedly in the face of all evidence to the contrary; indeed, when a bi-partisan federal panel concluded that the claims of widespread voter fraud were largely baseless, Bush Administration officials appear to have put pressure to modify the report's findings to make them more ambiguous. Today, in a follow-up story, the New York Times reports that the Bush Justice Department's strenuous efforts to discover and prosecute voter fraud have come up largely empty, finding only sporadic and isolated examples, often by people who lacked information about how to register to vote properly.

The great irony of all this is that there was a systematic and successful attempt at electoral fraud, this one an effort to keep eligible voters from casting ballots. It was staged by the Republican Party in Florida in 2000 in violation of the federal Voting Rights Act. That conspiracy to violate federal law led to the victory of the Bush Administration, which, in turn has used its power to try to cement a new Republican majority by every method it could think of-- some legal, and others illegal. That same Administration has also, of course, shamelessly exploited the tragedy of 9-11 to demonize its political opponents and divert attention from its numerous failures and incompetencies-- and, through various tricks and devices, managed to finagle the country into a disastrous war in Iraq, destroying lives and fortunes, and thoroughly undermining American interests abroad for decades to come. -- Balkinization

April 6, 2007

Kansas: Neosho Co. sheriff investigating voter-intimidation charge

The Parsons Sun reports: The Neosho County Sheriff's Department on Tuesday received a complaint of voter intimidation - a felony.

Sheriff Jim Keath said the complaint was filed against CUSD 101 Board of Education president Kelly Coover, who was re-elected by voters Tuesday to serve another term that will begin July 1.

Keath said he could not elaborate on who filed the complaint, but his office is investigating the claim. ...

On Tuesday, Keath said the sheriff's department received a call from a Thayer resident who reported that three different people in the community said they felt they had been intimidated by Coover, although the caller was not one of the three and had not experienced any of the alleged events. -- News from The Parsons Sun

March 30, 2007

Gonzales-8: connecting the dots

Scott Horton, speaking at the Ole Miss Law School, said: Eight US attorneys were dismissed by Alberto Gonzales on prodding from Karl Rove. We now know the fateful decision was taken on December 7 (an ironic day, as FDR said, "a day that will live in infamy"). As Gonzales and his deputies Paul J. McNulty and William Moschella trotted out various and contradictory after-the-fact rationalizations for this decision, it has become increasingly clear that the dismissals were politically inspired. Indeed, in the testimony that he has submitted to the Senate Judiciary Committee within the last two hours, Gonzales' chief of staff acknowledges as much.

The prosecutors selected for discharge come from "battleground states" which will be key to the 2008 presidential election: New Mexico, Nevada, Arizona, Michigan, Washington and Arkansas. This is no coincidence. Shortly after the 2006 Congressional election, Karl Rove, licking his wounds over a serious defeat, indicated in a speech to Republican lawyers that the public perception of scandal surrounding GOP law-makers was key to that loss. Rove promised he would do something about it. Within a few days, a move to cashier these prosecutors was underway. It is tied to a plan to use their offices to go after Democrats, whether a basis existed or not, and to pursue a voter suppression program focused on prospective Democrats. In other words, it's pure politics. Not high politics in the sense that Aristotle uses the term. But the crude gutter politics of the partisan hack. This sort of politics is not the exclusive province of one party. But over the last years, one party has exercised a monopoly on political power, and this appears to have led to a particularly virulent strain of political hackery. -- Accountability and the Renegade Executive

March 23, 2007

New U.S. Attorneys have worked on voting-related cases before appointment

McClatchy Newspapers wire reports: Under President Bush, the Justice Department has backed laws that narrow minority voting rights and pressed U.S. attorneys to investigate voter fraud - policies that critics say have been intended to suppress Democratic votes.

Bush, his deputy chief of staff, Karl Rove, and other Republican political advisers have highlighted voting rights issues and what Rove has called the "growing problem" of election fraud by Democrats since Bush took power in the tumultuous election of 2000, a race ultimately decided by the U.S. Supreme Court.

Since 2005, McClatchy Newspapers has found, Bush has appointed at least three U.S. attorneys who had worked in the Justice Department's civil rights division when it was rolling back longstanding voting-rights policies aimed at protecting predominantly poor, minority voters.

Another newly installed U.S. attorney, Tim Griffin in Little Rock, Ark., was accused of participating in efforts to suppress Democratic votes in Florida during the 2004 presidential election while he was a research director for the Republican National Committee. He's denied any wrongdoing. -- KRT Wire | 03/23/2007 | New U.S. attorneys seem to have partisan records

March 22, 2007

"How U.S. attorneys were used to spread voter-fraud fears"

Mark Follman, Alex Koppelman and Jonathan Vanian write in Salon.com: A belief in rampant voter fraud in Democratic strongholds -- big cities, minority neighborhoods -- is widespread among Republicans, and claims of vote buying and the like have long been a mainstay of GOP rhetoric. The party has used these claims of voter fraud to help build public support for what it considers electoral reforms, like requiring voters to show photo ID -- reforms that also tend to suppress Democratic turnout on Election Day.

During the Bush administration, a rhetorical tool became public policy. The Republicans could not get a photo ID law through the Senate, but they were able to enlist the 93 United States attorneys in their crusade against voter fraud. In 2002, then-Attorney General John Ashcroft announced an initiative that required "all components of the [Justice] Department" to "place a high priority on the investigation and prosecution of election fraud."

Five years later, Ashcroft's initiative hasn't produced all that much in the way of convictions, at least relative to the overall Department of Justice caseload. Prosecutions for electoral fraud remain a minuscule part of the federal criminal docket. In 2002 alone, there were 80,424 criminal cases concluded nationwide in the 94 U.S. District Courts. By comparison, according to a DOJ document, between the fall of 2002 and the fall of 2005, there were only 95 defendants charged with federal election-fraud-related crimes in the whole country. ...

But sometimes pursuing an investigation can be just as effective as a conviction in providing that ammunition and creating an impression with the public that some sort of electoral reform is necessary. The battle between Democrats and Republicans over photo ID has been most contentious in so-called battleground states like New Mexico. In one such purple state, the GOP used repeated and very public accusations of fraud to ram a photo ID law through the state legislature. In Missouri, Republicans have been accusing Democrats of fraud since the 2000 election. During the Bush administration, three different U.S. attorneys have launched investigations into electoral fraud in Missouri, indicting nine people. Last year, prior to the midterm elections, the administration even dispatched a key voting fraud expert from Washington to assume the job of U.S. attorney in Missouri's Eastern District. -- How U.S. attorneys were used to spread voter-fraud fears | Salon News

March 21, 2007

New Hampshire: Tobin's convication reversed, remanded for new trial

TalkLeft reports: RNC Regional Director James Tobin's phone jamming conviction has been reversed. It's remanded for a new trial. The opinion is here. (pdf). -- First Circuit Tosses Republican Phone Jammer's Conviction - TalkLeft: The Politics Of Crime

Here is the nub of the decision:

Tobin's first and most far-reaching claim of error relates to the proper meaning of section 223(a)(1)(D)'s "intent to harass" requirement. From the outset, the district judge was concerned that the government was seeking to extend the statute from one directed at harassment of the called party to one embracing the disruption of telecommunications systems. In the end, the judge adopted a compromise ....

We side with Tobin on this single issue. The district judge made a creditable effort to make sense of the perplexing statute. But in the end, the district court's "unjustifiable motive" and "good faith" language, used virtually to define "intent to harass," broadens the statute unduly. In considering the objection, we are required to consider just what Congress meant by harassment and the problem is not straightforward.

New Hampshire: DOJ investigation of GOP phone-jamming was mishandled, Dems claim

TPMmuckraker.com reports: Now New Hampshire Democrats are raising questions about another DoJ investigation into Republican wrongdoing -- the New Hampshire phone jamming case.

In a detailed, 10-page letter to Senate Judiciary Chairman Patrick Leahy (D-VT) signed by Kathleen Sullivan, chair of the New Hampshire Democratic Party, and Paul Twomey, a lawyer for the Democrats, they argue that the investigation, which targeted prominent operatives in the Republican Party, was stalled and mishandled.

On Election Day in 2002, Republicans schemed to jam the phone banks for Democratic get out the vote efforts. Two Republicans involved in the plan pled guilty, and James Tobin, formerly the New England Regional Political Director for the Republican National Committee, was convicted for his role. The case took years to play out; the first guilty pleas in the case were not until the summer of 2004, and Tobin was not indicted until after the 2004 election.

One of the reasons the investigation was stalled, Democrats argue, is that "all decisions had to be reviewed by the Attorney General himself" -- first John Ashcroft and then Alberto Gonzales. To back up that claim, the Democrats say that lawyers working on the case were told by prosecutors that delays in the case were due to the extreme difficulty in obtaining authorization from higher levels at DOJ for any and all actions in the case. -- TPMmuckraker March 21, 2007 04:59 PM

March 15, 2007

It really is "voter fraud" at the heart of the Gonzalez 8

Devilstower writes at Daily Kos: When someone lies habitually, you come to expect more of the same. So when the Republicans gibber about concerns over "voter fraud" as the primary reason the eight US attorneys were dismissed, it's easy to laugh. Since when has this administration, or Republicans in general, been interested in stopping voter fraud? It's as if the pope had come out against silly hats.

Only in this case, the Republicans are quite serious. Voter fraud really is at the heart of the matter. But this is a different kind of voter fraud story. It has nothing to do with anything you might recognize by that name. What first stirred Karl Rove to wake up Bush, and then drove Bush to grouse to Gonzo, and finally ended up earning the attorneys steaming brown phone calls from Republican senators, congressmen, and staffers, is something that goes right to the core of both parties. ...

Republicans have always been at the other end of this fight. Republicans fear that, if Americans find it too easy to vote, Americans might... vote. They're especially concerned that minorities might vote. Having unequal access to polling stations is good for Republicans. Forcing people to make multiple trips and obtain new IDs to vote is good for Republicans. Anything that restricts voting in areas that lean toward Democrats is good for Republicans. In fact, with a Republican Party that's built around a collection of issues meant to appeal to the most radical on the right, every obstacle is a good thing. If Republicans could, they'd surround every polling station with a moat. And alligators.

Voter suppression is a lynch pin of the Republican strategy. They look on every "get out the vote" campaign among the general public, no matter how nonpartisan, as a direct threat. And well they should, since Democrats hold the edge not only in overall numbers, but in their position on issue after issue. -- Daily Kos: Selling Suppression

March 14, 2007

"The DoJ's Favorite Crime"

The Explainer on Slate says: On Tuesday, the White House revealed that President Bush had met with Attorney General Alberto Gonzales back in October to discuss the lackluster performance of U.S. attorneys on voter-fraud cases. The Department of Justice fired seven prosecutors on Dec. 7. What's so important about voter fraud?

It could theoretically cost a party or candidate an election. The term voter fraud refers to cases of voting illegally or conspiring to promote illegal voting by others. For example, it's against the law to knowingly vote twice in the same election or to vote with the knowledge that you aren't eligible. But states rarely prosecute these crimes, because most individual cases boil down to administrative error, voter mistakes, or small-scale fraud. -- Why is the Bush administration pushing so hard to stop voter fraud? - By Melonyce McAfee - Slate Magazine

February 14, 2007

Where you vote may affect whether you vote

AP reports: Officials in two Houston-area elections recently manipulated polling locations to clear the path for their supporters to vote and to toss numerous roadblocks before their opponents.

Sponsors of a local community college bond election tried last year to put all their polling locations on their campuses, making voting easy for students and employees — a natural support base — but less convenient for opponents. That move prompted the U.S. Department of Justice to step in, and the election was postponed. ...

Such maneuvers go on to a lesser degree all over the country.

Some Minnesota schools hold bond elections in frigid January. Fire departments pushing bond elections in New Jersey routinely place their polling booths in remote fire stations. And elections officials in Ohio and California have been accused of uneven distribution of voting machines, causing long lines in neighborhoods that support one party and a quick passthrough for supporters of the other party.

Such machinations allow government officials to assist their favored candidate or to help pass bond issues — and their resulting property tax increases — without mounting expensive campaigns. Controlling the location of polls allows supporters to turn out in their usual numbers, while opponents have to drive farther, or to several places, to vote. -- Dallas Morning News | News for Dallas, Texas | Texas/Southwest

January 16, 2007

Mississippi: Ike Brown trial starts today

The Washington Post reports: Over the years, Ike Brown has earned a reputation in rural Noxubee County as a wily political boss, and his election triumphs have time and again aroused suspicions of impropriety. But talk of his tactics never carried much farther than this small community of sawmills and catfish ponds.

Today, though, Brown, who is African American, is scheduled to go on trial in federal court in Jackson, where he will face charges from the Justice Department that he violated the political rights of Noxubee's white minority. It is the first time that the 1965 Voting Rights Act has been used to ensure white rights.

About two-thirds of the 8,700 adults in Noxubee County are black, and Brown, the local Democratic committee chief, has been criticized for urging people to "vote black" while engaging in an array of electoral shenanigans.

At issue is whether Brown, 52, has directed "relentless voting-related racial discrimination" against white voters and white candidates through fraudulent election tactics, as federal lawyers say, or whether he was merely operating aggressive political campaigns in a milieu that has long been split along racial lines. -- Alleged Voting Rights Violation With Twist Goes to Trial - washingtonpost.com

December 26, 2006

Robo-calls traced to Dutko lobbying firm

TPM Muckraker reports: A Florida-based Republican political firm with circumstantial ties to at least two nasty robocalling efforts this year isn't quite as obscure as we thought.

In the last days of the 2006 elections, Direct Strategies, Inc. of Tallahassee saw its name connected to dirty-tricks robo calls in Nebraska and Pennsylvania. Run by two state-level GOP operatives, the firm did not appear to cut a swaggering figure in national politics.

Here's the thing: according to filings with the state of Florida, "Direct Strategies, Inc." doesn't exist. It voluntarily dissolved in April 2005. In its place rose a new company, "Dutko Direct Strategies, Inc.," which appears to be controlled by one of Washington's largest lobby firms. ...

The robo calls in Nebraska and Pennsylvania which have been mentioned in relation to "Direct Strategies" were reported to be deliberate attempts to mislead their recipients to believe they originated from Democratic campaigns. The calls were made repeatedly to the same households, and sometimes in the early morning or late at night. -- TPMmuckraker December 26, 2006 05:10 PM

December 7, 2006

John McCain hires Terry Nelson as campaign manager

Matt Stoller writes on MyDD: John McCain just hired the worst man in the world to run his campaign, Terry Nelson. Nelson was an unindicted co-conspirator in the TRMPAC scandal as a key point of contact between Tom Delay and the RNC. He was James Tobin's boss during the 2002 New Hampshire phone-jamming scandal, for which Tobin was convicted. He also worked at the head of opposition research for the NRCC this cycle, where robocalls from Republicans pretending to be Democrats were the norm all over the country. Nelson also produced the racist bimbo ad against Harold Ford. -- MyDD :: Direct Democracy for People-Powered Politics

December 2, 2006

New Hampshire: phone-jamming suit settled

UPDATE: The Nashua Telegraph reports: The phone bill ended up being $135,000 for a Republican scheme that jammed Democratic get-out-the-vote calls in New Hampshire on Election Day 2002.

Both sides are claiming victory. The Democrats say the Republicans paid three times: in Friday’s cash settlement to end a Democratic lawsuit, in defending the charges and last month at the polls.

The Republicans say, without admitting liability, they are paying a fraction of the $4.1 million the Democrats were going after. The Republicans maintained they should only have had to pay about $4,000 – the cost of rental and use of the phones. -- Settlement signals end to GOP phone-jamming scandal

AP reports: Days before the start of a trial on a lawsuit in an Election Day 2002 phone-jamming scheme, state Republicans said Friday that the case has been settled. They did not give a dollar amount.

"The civil litigation between the New Hampshire Democratic Party and various defendants, including the New Hampshire Republican State Committee, has settled," Wayne Semprini, Republican State Committee chairman, said in a statement late Friday. "As we have previously stated, the New Hampshire Republican State Committee deplores the phone jamming incident that took place in New Hampshire in 2002."

Republicans had hired a telemarketing firm to place hundreds of hang-up calls to phone banks for the Democratic Party and the Manchester firefighters union, a nonpartisan group offering rides to the polls. Service was disrupted for nearly two hours. -- Portsmouth Herald Local News: Settlement reached in phone jamming suit

November 30, 2006

New Hampshire: judge rules Democrats not limited in damages in phone-jamming case

The Concord Monitor reports: In a preliminary ruling on the Election Day 2002 phone-jamming lawsuit, a judge yesterday denied a request from Republicans to restrict the potential damages awarded Democrats to the dollar cost of the lost phone service.

The civil suit related to the phone-jamming is scheduled to begin Monday in Hillsborough County Superior Court in Manchester. State Democrats have asked the court to award them up to $4.1 million for the damages associated with a Republican program to block Democratic phone banks in New Hampshire to thwart the party's get-out-the-vote effort.

The defendants - a group that includes the state Republican Party, the Republican National Committee and the National Republican Senatorial Committee - filed a motion to exclude evidence beyond the phone-system damages and restrict the potential award to less than $5,000, which they calculated as the value of the lost phone lines. Republicans said they blocked 13 Democratic phone lines for 82 minutes before they called off the illegal program.

Judge Philip Mangones, who will hear the case, ruled yesterday that the Democrats may seek greater damages and present evidence to argue that the phone jamming compromised Election Day activities for which the party had spent months planning. However, he also suggested that it would be improbable for the Democrats to recover a multimillion-dollar award. -- Concord Monitor Online Article - GOP denied in phone-jam case - Your News Source - 03301

November 24, 2006

New Hampshire: how much does the GOP owe the Dems for phone-jamming?

AP reports: State Democrats says Republicans should pay them $4.1 million in damages for an illegal phone-jamming operation that disrupted get-out-the-vote operations on Election Day 2002.

That’s nearly half of what Democrats spent on their six-month effort, which was disrupted for nearly two hours the day it was supposed to pay off.

The state and national Republican parties say they should pay only $4,974 – the actual cost of the disrupted telephone service and rental costs – to $21,287. -- Nashuatelegraph.com: State/New England

November 21, 2006

Salon's top 10 "list of dirt" in the 2006 election

Alex Koppelman and Lauren Shell write in Salon: Before the 2006 midterm election, you couldn't escape the predictions of Election Day disaster: voting machine meltdowns, interminable lines, endless recounts. But the control of both houses of Congress was decided without interference from Diebold or hanging chads, so few (outside of Florida's 13th Congressional District) are suffering flashbacks of 2000 and 2004.

But while this year might not have included any repeats of Palm Beach County or Ohio, that doesn't mean the midterm elections were squeaky clean. This November there were some old-school dirty tricks that had nothing to do with voting machines or secretaries of state. An unscientific sample seems to show that most were the product of a party that was desperate for something, anything, that would help it protect its doomed congressional majorities. The bulk of this year's murky dealings took place in those tightly contested races -- from the battle for Virginia's Senate seat to House races in Illinois, New York and Connecticut -- that were crucial to control of Congress.

Fortunately, politicians in several states and the U.S. Senate are taking steps to criminalize some of the more heinous tricks played this year. Before any of the bad deeds from this election are forgotten, here's Salon's Cheat Sheet -- our top 10 list of dirt.

In Maryland, Republicans turn Democrat -- and truck in homeless men to spread the word ... In Virginia, voter intimidation ... The Social Security Administration gets into the act ... "Not like in Mexico, here there is no benefit to voting." ... Blood runs thicker than party affiliation ... The robot that called. And called. And called ... Push polls ... The progressive group that wasn't ... Case of the vanished polling place ... And last, but not least -- vigilantes -- The GOP's dirty deeds of 2006 | Salon News

November 16, 2006

New Hampshire: third man pleads guilty in phone-jamming case

The Manchester Union Leader reports: A third conspirator has agreed to plead guilty to federal criminal charges in connection with a Republican operation that jammed Democratic get-out-the-vote telephone lines on election day, 2002.

Shaun Hansen, whose former telemarketing firm placed the hundreds of line-jamming calls after being hired by a Republican operative, admits violating federal statutes outlawing telephone harassment and conspiracy to commit telephone harassment.

He faces maximum penalties of $250,000 and five years in prison for the harassment charge and a fine of $250,000 for the conspiracy charge. But under an agreement filed in U.S. District Court in Concord this week, federal prosecutors agreed not to oppose Hansen’s request for sentence reduction “based upon the defendant’s apparent prompt recognition and affirmative acceptance of personal responsibility for the offense.” -- Another guilty plea in 2002 phone-jam case

New Hampshire: third man pleads guilty in phone-jamming case

The Manchester Union Leader reports: A third conspirator has agreed to plead guilty to federal criminal charges in connection with a Republican operation that jammed Democratic get-out-the-vote telephone lines on election day, 2002.

Shaun Hansen, whose former telemarketing firm placed the hundreds of line-jamming calls after being hired by a Republican operative, admits violating federal statutes outlawing telephone harassment and conspiracy to commit telephone harassment.

He faces maximum penalties of $250,000 and five years in prison for the harassment charge and a fine of $250,000 for the conspiracy charge. But under an agreement filed in U.S. District Court in Concord this week, federal prosecutors agreed not to oppose Hansen’s request for sentence reduction “based upon the defendant’s apparent prompt recognition and affirmative acceptance of personal responsibility for the offense.” -- Union Leader - Another guilty plea in 2002 phone-jam case - Wednesday, Nov. 15, 2006

November 8, 2006

Virginia: election irregulaties in Virginia could decide the Senate race

Spencer Overton writes on blackprof.com: If Democrats squeak by in Montana, election irregularities and suppressive voting rules in Virginia could determine which party controls the U.S. Senate. With 99% of the votes tallied, Webb led by about 7,800 (of 2.3 million) -- less than three-tenths of a percent. ...

Virginians faced a variety of issues, including

*voter deception

*restrictive state voting laws

October 25, 2006

California: Secretary of State sends letter counteracting Nguyen's letter

AP reports: The California Secretary of State mailed letters Wednesday to counteract an intimidating flier linked to a Republican congressional candidate's campaign that warned immigrants they could go to jail if they vote.

The bilingual letter, endorsed by several Hispanic civil rights groups, encourages U.S. citizens to vote Nov. 7, informs them of the official state requirements to register and tells them to ignore the "false and misleading" information in the earlier flier.

The letter went out to all 14,000 Hispanic voters who received the flier sent this month. It was linked to the campaign of Tan Nguyen, who running for Democratic Rep. Loretta Sanchez (news, bio, voting record)'s seat in Orange County. Written in Spanish, it warned: "You are advised that if your residence in this country is illegal or you are an immigrant, voting in a federal election is a crime that could result in jail time."

In fact, naturalized U.S. citizens have the right to vote. -- Calif. letter debunks intimidating flier - Yahoo! News

October 24, 2006

California: Nguyen bought the mailing list for the "immigrant" letter

The Los Angeles Times reports: Congressional candidate Tan Nguyen personally bought the list of voters to whom a racially charged letter was mailed, warning that immigrants could be jailed or deported for voting, according to the president of the company that sold the list and sources familiar with the still-unfolding investigation.

Nguyen requested information on registered Democrats in the central Orange County Congressional district with Spanish surnames who were born outside the United States, according to people familiar with a state investigation into the letter. Nguyen, a Republican, is running an underdog campaign against Democratic incumbent Loretta Sanchez. ...

Nguyen, who has drawn national scorn for his campaign's role in the mailing, maintains that he had nothing to do with the letter's production or distribution, saying a campaign office manager misappropriated the list. Nguyen fired the worker last week but said Sunday that he had offered to rehire her because he came to believe that the letter was accurate and did not violate the law.

Separately, sources have told The Times that a Los Angeles Police Department officer who is close to Nguyen used an alias to order the letter produced and then paid $4,000 for it on his credit card. -- Candidate reportedly bought voter list for controversial letter - Los Angeles Times

October 19, 2006

California: GOP candidate sends letters threatening Hispanic voters

AP reports: Orange County Republican leaders on Thursday called for the withdrawal of a GOP congressional candidate they believe sent a letter threatening Hispanic immigrant voters with arrest.

Tan D. Nguyen denied knowing anything about the letter in an interview Thursday with The Associated Press but said he fired a campaign staffer who may have been responsible for it.

County Republican Chairman Scott Baugh, however, said that after speaking with state investigators and the company that distributed the mailer, he believes Nguyen had direct knowledge of the “obnoxious and reprehensible” letter. He told the AP that the party’s executive committee voted unanimously to Nguyen to drop out of the race against Democratic U.S. Rep. Loretta Sanchez. ...

State and federal officials were investigating the letter, which was written in Spanish and mailed to an estimated 14,000 Democratic voters in central Orange County. It warns, “You are advised that if your residence in this country is illegal or you are an immigrant, voting in a federal election is a crime that could result in jail time.”

Immigrants who are adult naturalized citizens are eligible to vote. -- GOP wants own candidate to pull out - Politics - MSNBC.com

Thanks to Daily Kos for the link.

October 12, 2006

Mississippi: DOJ sues blacks for suppressing white voters

The New York Times reports: The Justice Department has chosen this no-stoplight, courthouse town buried in the eastern Mississippi prairie for an unusual civil rights test: the first federal lawsuit under the Voting Rights Act accusing blacks of suppressing the rights of whites.

The action represents a sharp shift, and it has raised eyebrows outside the state. The government is charging blacks with voting fraud in a state whose violent rejection of blacks’ right to vote, over generations, helped give birth to the Voting Rights Act of 1965. Yet within Mississippi the case has provoked knowing nods rather than cries of outrage, even among liberal Democrats.

The Justice Department’s main focus is Ike Brown, a local power broker whose imaginative electoral tactics have for 20 years caused whisperings from here to the state capital in Jackson, 100 miles to the southwest. Mr. Brown, tall, thin, a twice-convicted felon, the chairman of the Noxubee County Democratic Executive Committee and its undisputed political boss, is accused by the federal government of orchestrating — with the help of others — “relentless voting-related racial discrimination” against whites, whom blacks outnumber by more than 3 to 1 in the county.

His goal, according to the government: keeping black politicians — ones supported by Mr. Brown, that is — in office.

To do that, the department says, he and his allies devised a watertight system for controlling the all-determining Democratic primary, much as segregationists did decades ago. -- U.S. Says Blacks in Mississippi Suppress White Vote - New York Times

September 25, 2006

New Hampshire: one phone-jammer is working on plea deal

AP reports: The former owner of the telemarketing company that carried out a GOP phone jamming plot against New Hampshire Democrats is negotiating a plea deal with federal prosecutors.

Shaun Hansen, 34, is charged with conspiring to commit and aiding the commission of telephone harassment. His trial had been scheduled to begin Oct. 3. However, documents filed Friday indicate the trial would be postponed until Dec. 3 while lawyers work out a possible plea deal.

If no deal is reached, lawyers agreed to use the time to review depositions obtained in a related civil case Democrats have filed in Hillsborough County Superior Court. -- SunJournal.com - Plea being negotiated in GOP phone jamming

September 21, 2006

Texas: lawsuit claims AG is targeting elderly, disabled, and minority voters for voter fraud suits

AP reports: The state attorney general is using a 2003 law about mail-in ballots to intimidate elderly, disabled and minority voters who typically favor Democrats, according to a civil lawsuit filed Thursday by the Texas Democratic Party.

The lawsuit aims to overturn parts of the Texas Election Code that criminalize people who help voters with their mail-in ballots.

The defendants are Secretary of State Roger Williams and Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott, a pair of Republicans accused by Democrats of selectively targeting blacks, Hispanics and old people through his voter fraud task force.

The statutes in question make it illegal for anyone other than voters to possess their own mail-in ballots. That prevents political parties and community activists from helping voters mail their ballots, a "common practice by individuals, political parties and other organizations ... to maximize voter turnout," the lawsuit reads.

Abbott's voter fraud task force has 13 open cases, all involving Democrats, according to the Texas Democratic Party. Twelve of the 13 defendants are black or Hispanic, and in eight of those cases Abbott prosecuted someone for mailing or delivering someone else's sealed ballot, Democrats said. -- Dallas Morning News | News for Dallas, Texas | Texas/Southwest

Note: Read more background on the case at the Lone Star Project's website, including a copy of the complaint.

September 17, 2006

New Hampshire: Tobin's appeal brief filed

The Bangor Daily News reported on 9 September: Defense attorneys filed an appeal Friday in U.S. 1st District Court of James Tobin's conviction in a scheme to jam New Hampshire Democrats' get-out-the-vote phone lines four years ago.

Attorneys for Tobin, 45, of Bangor argued in their 59-page brief that the telephone harassment statute should not have been used to prosecute him and three others. The attorneys also argued that the way the statute was used to prosecute Tobin violated the U.S. Constitution.

Tobin, who remains free pending the outcome of the appeal, was sentenced in April in U.S. District Court in Concord, N.H., to 10 months in federal prison. He also was fined $10,000 after being convicted in December after an eight-day jury trial.

The longtime Republican strategist was found guilty of conspiring to make more than 800 repeated hang-up calls and of aiding and abetting the making of those calls. He was acquitted of the more serious charge of conspiring to deprive New Hampshire residents of their right to vote. -- Tobin appeals conviction in election phone-jamming case - Judy Harrison (176)

September 3, 2006

Alabama: 40 years ago, registering to vote meant losing a home

The Montgomery Advertiser reports: Some sharecroppers who tried to register to vote 40 years ago got more than rejection at the registrar's office in Lowndes County.

They lost their homes.

"The man who owned the land I lived on told me he was going to run barbed wire through my house for some reason or another and I had to move," Elijah Gordon said Saturday afternoon. "Six or seven other families had to leave, too."

About 40 families who were evicted from their homes for registering to vote in 1965 were honored Saturday by the Lowndes County Friends of the Selma-to-Montgomery National Historic Trail.

A large crowd had lunch on the grounds outside the White Hall Town Hall auditorium, which was filled with civil rights artifacts, including a tent similar to those used by some who were evicted. -- montgomeryadvertiser.com :: Group honors farmers who lost homes because they registered to vote

Comment: We should never forget the struggle and the sacrifice that many made to register.

August 24, 2006

"The New Face of Jim Crow: Voter Suppression in America"

People For the American Way announces a new report, The New Face of Jim Crow: Voter Suppression in America:

There are two ways to win an election. One is to get a majority of voters to support you. The other is to prevent voters who oppose you from casting their votes.

In the 27 years since Paul Weyrich's astonishingly candid admission, the radical right wing in America has developed an array of subtle and overt methods to suppress voter registration and turnout. The methods are targeted to constituencies most likely to oppose right-wing causes and candidates: low-income families, minorities, senior citizens and citizens for whom English is a second language.

Occasionally, attempts at voter suppression are illegal dirty tricks, such as the phone-jamming scheme carried out by Republican operatives against a Democratic phone bank in New Hampshire in 2004. Some voter suppression is unintentional, the result of applying or misapplying changes in voting laws. However, voter suppression today is overwhelmingly achieved through regulatory, legislative and administrative means, resulting in modern-day equivalents of poll taxes and literacy tests that kept Black voters from the ballot box in the Jim Crow era.

August 15, 2006

Salon's "Shameful Six"

Salon reports: For the 2006 elections, with the control of the House and the Senate in the balance, Salon has selected six states with the most serious potential for vote suppression and the greatest potential for affecting the outcome of key races. In nearly every case, the voter-suppression techniques have been implemented since 2004 by Republican legislators or officials; only one state has a Democratic secretary of state, and only one has a Democratic-controlled legislature. The shameful six are: Arizona, California, Indiana, Ohio, Florida, and Missouri. -- Salon's shameful six | Salon News

August 10, 2006

New Hamshire: Dems allege a GOP coverup on phone jamming

TPMmuckraker reports: As part of their ongoing law suit against the New Hampshire Republicans regarding the jamming of Democratic phone banks on Election Day, 2002, the Democrats alleged a "deliberate cover up" by the GOP in a filing earlier this week. Notes from FBI interviews indicate that that a number of senior officials with the New Hampshire Republican State Committee [NHRSC] knew of the jamming and consciously covered it up, they say.

The FBI's 2003 interview with NHRSC Executive Director Chuck McGee is especially revealing in this regard [we've posted it here]. McGee, who has said he originally hatched the plan to jam Democrat's phones, told the FBI that he'd discussed the jamming before Election Day with the NHRSC's Chair, the Vice Chair, Finance Director, and four other senior level Republican staffers in the state. McGee pled guilty for his role in the jamming and has already served his time. -- TPMmuckraker August 10, 2006 02:45 PM

August 1, 2006

Indiana: Republicans purging voters in Marion County

The Indianapolis Star reports: Republicans may continue purging names from the Marion County voter rolls despite Democrats' concerns that some voters could be disenfranchised.

In an emergency meeting Monday, the Marion County Election Board sided with Republicans, who were concerned about potential voter fraud due to people registered in more than one location and deceased voters who were never taken off the books.

The Election Board voted 2-1 in favor of allowing Republicans to continue purging names.

The controversy began Friday when Republicans started removing the names of voters they thought were ineligible. The names came from a list supplied by a vendor contracted by the secretary of state's office that indicated about 36,000 Marion County voter registrations were questionable. Republicans were certain that about 4,500 of those names should be purged immediately. Purging of additional names also is being considered. -- GOP purging voter rolls | IndyStar.com

Hat tip: DailyKos.

July 18, 2006

New Hampshire: Dems will depose GOP leadership in phone-jamming civil suit

AP reported on Friday: A judge yesterday gave state Democrats the go-ahead to question high-ranking Republicans in a civil suit over Republican phone jamming in 2002.

Democrats want to know who knew about a plan to jam Democrats' phone lines on Election Day 2002, a crime that has led to convictions of three former GOP officials.

They point to a record of phone calls that show that national GOP official James Tobin, one of those convicted, made two dozen calls to the White House within a three-day period as the phone jamming operation was finalized, carried out and then abruptly shut down.

The national Republican Party, which paid millions in legal bills to defend Tobin, said the contacts involved routine election business and that it was "preposterous" to suggest the calls involved phone jamming. -- Dems can question top GOP - Concord Monitor Online - Concord, NH 03301

July 12, 2006

"Revitalizing Democracy" video

The American Constitution Society for Law and Policy has posted the video of the “Revitalizing Democracy” panel at its recent National Convention. On June 17, ACS hosted a panel at its 2006 National Convention exploring the sources of the growing sense of disenfranchisement among Americans and avenues for reform that could make our democratic system more responsive to ordinary Americans. Panelists explored issues such as the impact of money in politics and campaign finance reform, the effect of redistricting on political polarization, the merits of the electoral college, how technology will affect political campaigning in the coming years and the implementation of the Help American Vote Act. Panelists also discussed ways that we can encourage a national conversation on these issues and broaden participation in our democracy. Included on the panel were:

  • Ron Klain, Executive Vice President and General Counsel, Revolution LLC; former assistant to President Clinton; former Chief of Staff and Counsel to Vice President Gore;
  • Donna Brazile, Brazile and Associates, LLC; former campaign manager for Vice President Al Gore;
  • Representative Artur Davis (D-AL);
  • Heather Gerken, Professor of Law, Yale Law School;
  • Benjamin Ginsberg, Patton Boggs LLP;
  • Robert Lenhard, Vice Chairman, Federal Election Commission; and
  • John Podesta, President and Chief Executive Officer, Center for American Progress; former Chief of Staff to President Clinton.
  • July 8, 2006

    New Hampshire: Hansen will argue White House okayed phone jamming

    Raw Story reports: The fourth man indicted in a New Hampshire phone-jamming scheme -- in which Republican operatives jammed the phone lines of Democratic get-out-the-vote efforts in a 2002 Senate race -- will argue at trial that the Bush Administration and the national Republican Party gave their approval to the plan, according to a motion filed by his attorney Thursday.

    Shaun Hansen, the former owner of the company that placed hang-up calls to jam Democratic phone lines, was indicted in March for conspiring to commit and aiding and abetting the commission of interstate telephone harassment relating to a scheme to thwart get out the vote efforts on Election Day, 2002.

    His lawyer's motion signals that Hansen intends to argue that he was entrapped because the Administration allegedly told his superiors the calls were legal. The filing indicates, however, that Hansen does not have firsthand knowledge of Administration intervention. -- The Raw Story | Man indicted in phone jamming case will argue Administration approved election scheme

    June 16, 2006

    New Hampshire: judge dismisses 5 of 8 claims in Democrats' phone-jamming suit

    AP reports: A judge has dismissed most of a Democratic lawsuit against Republicans stemming from the jamming of Democratic phone lines in the November 2002 elections.

    State Democratic Chairwoman Kathy Sullivan said Thursday a judge in Manchester dismissed five of eight claims Democrats had made in the civil lawsuit.

    Both parties called the decision a victory. ...

    The five dismissed counts dealt with conspiring against constitutional rights to vote and associate, civil conspiracy, civil harassment and conspiracy to commit civil harassment. ...

    The scheme jammed get-out-the-vote and ride-to-the-polls phone banks run by Democrats and the nonpartisan Manchester firefighters union for over an hour on Election Day 2002, during a hotly contested U.S. Senate race between then-Democratic Gov. Jeanne Shaheen and Republican John Sununu, who won. -- Judge dismisses most of Democrats' phone-jamming lawsuit - Boston.com

    June 12, 2006

    Massachusetts: outing the signers of anti-gay marriage petition

    The Boston Globe reports: A controversial campaign to identify supporters of a constitutional ban of gay marriage in Massachusetts plans to launch a similar website in Florida today.

    KnowThyNeighbor.org, a website that contains a searchable database of the names of Massachusetts residents who have signed a petition for a constitutional amendment to outlaw gay marriage, has helped a church in Jacksonville, Fla., build a similar database of Floridians who have signed a ``marriage protection" ballot initiative in their state. The Florida names will be available on KnowThyNeighbor.org or through a link on the church's website, christchurchofpeace.org .

    The website's creators say its purpose is twofold -- to root out signature fraud and to provide public information that gay marriage supporters can use to identify petition signers they know and engage them in ``open and meaningful dialogue." But opponents of the site say its real purpose is to intimidate.

    Kris Mineau , the president of The Massachusetts Family Institute , a sponsor of the amendment banning gay marriage, said Massachusetts' latest export was meant to scare Floridians away from the petition. -- Another website to list gay-marriage foes - The Boston Globe

    Hat tip to Sean Sirrine at Objective Justice.

    New Hampshire: "You always want to polarize somebody"

    The Boston Globe reports: For nearly a decade, Allen Raymond stood at the top ranks of Republican Party power. ...

    Raymond, 39, has just finished serving a three-month sentence for jamming Democratic phone lines in New Hampshire during the 2002 US Senate race. The incident led to one of the biggest political scandals in the state's history, the convictions of Raymond and two top Republican officials, and a Democratic lawsuit that seeks to determine whether the White House played any role. The race was won by Senator John E. Sununu , the Republican.

    In his first interview about the case, Raymond said he doesn't know anything that would suggest the White House was involved in the plan to tie up Democrats' phone lines and thereby block their get-out-the-vote effort. But he said the scheme reflects a broader culture in the Republican Party that is focused on dividing voters to win primaries and general elections. He said examples range from some recent efforts to use border-security concerns to foster anger toward immigrants to his own role arranging phone calls designed to polarize primary voters over abortion in a 2002 New Jersey Senate race.

    ``A lot of people look at politics and see it as the guy who wins is the guy who unifies the most people," he said. ``I would disagree. I would say the candidate who wins is the candidate who polarizes the right bloc of voters. You always want to polarize somebody." -- Fallen star blames self, GOP tactics - The Boston Globe

    Thanks to Taegan D. Goddard's Political Wire for the link.

    May 17, 2006

    New Hampshire: Tobin sentenced to 10 months

    AP reports: Former Republican National Committee official James Tobin was sentenced to 10 months in prison Wednesday for his role in an Election Day phone-jamming plot against New Hampshire Democrats.

    Tobin, of Bangor, Maine, was found guilty in December on two felony telephone harassment charges. He also was fined $10,000, followed by two years probation. Prosecutors had asked for a two-year prison sentence.

    Tobin, 45, was convicted of helping a top state GOP official find someone to jam Democratic get-out-the-vote lines on Election Day 2002. Republican John Sununu defeated then-Gov. Jeanne Shaheen for the U.S. Senate that day in what had been considered a cliffhanger. -- Union Leader - Tobin sentenced to 10 months for phone-jam plot - Wednesday, May. 17, 2006

    May 16, 2006

    New Hampshire: Tobin to be sentenced

    The Portland Press Herald reports: For more than three years, a plot to jam Democrats' phone lines on Election Day in 2002 has been shadowing New Hampshire Republicans. Yet as recently as December, when a GOP political insider from Maine was convicted in the scheme, the scandal wasn't attracting much attention outside of New England.

    That's changed in the past few months, as Democrats have tried to link the phone-jamming case to disgraced Republican lobbyist Jack Abramoff, former Republican National Committee Chairman Haley Barbour and the White House.

    James Tobin, the convicted political operative from Bangor, is scheduled to be sentenced Wednesday, near the start of a new campaign season. Depending on which political party is talking, his court date represents either one of the scandal's last chapters or another step in a long-running cover-up. ...

    In December, Tobin was convicted of two telephone harassment charges. A jury acquitted him of a third, more serious, charge of conspiring against voters' rights.

    The Justice Department is recommending that he spend as much as two years in federal prison, which is beyond what sentencing guidelines recommend. Tobin's lawyers, meanwhile, are asking for probation, a fine and community service, while still seeking a new trial. -- Tobin's case: Winding down or heating up?

    April 20, 2006

    New Hampshire: Tom DeLay and the phone-jamming case

    Cragg Hines writes in the Houston Chronicle: Tom DeLay isn't involved in every Republican scandal, although it's easy to see how you could get that idea.

    As Democrats prowl through evidence in a growing phone-jamming scandal in New Hampshire, what should pop up but DeLay's Americans for a Republican Majority political action committee.

    Just as Republican operatives in 2002 were shelling out about $15,000 to attempt to tie up Election Day phone lines at some Democratic get-out-the-vote call centers in the Granite State, three groups — let's call them "Friends of Jack Abramoff" — were ponying up $5,000 each to the New Hampshire Republican State Committee.

    In addition to DeLay's ARM, the generous givers were two casino-fueled tribes, California's Agua Caliente Band of Cahuilla Indians and the Mississippi Band of Choctaw Indians. (The tribal contributions were first reported in The Union Leader, a New Hampshire newspaper, and the ARM contribution was added in a New York Times piece.) -- Chron.com | DeLay's scandals: maybe not just for Texas anymore

    April 18, 2006

    New Hampshire: Justice Dept. asked to cough up the "phone-jamming" investigative file

    Raw Story reports: A Democratic group has filed a Freedom of Information Act request to obtain all findings by the Department of Justice in the probe of White House involvement in New Hampshire's "phone jamming scandal," RAW STORY has found.

    "Nearly four years after high-level Republican officials broke the law to prevent people from voting, we still don't know the answer to the question: how high does this go?," Senate Majority Project Executive Director Mike Gehrke said in a press release. "One thing is for certain, the Department of Justice does not investigate the White House after 'normal Election Day activity.'".

    Last Tuesday, Robert Kelner, the Washington lawyer representing the Republican National Committee, told New Hampshire TV station WMUR-TV that "[i]n regards to the White House calls, the Department of Justice had known about them for a long time, investigated those calls, and did not bring any charges." -- The Raw Story | Group files FOIA for Justice Dept. findings on White House involvement in 'phone-jamming scandal'

    March 27, 2006

    New Hampshire: 4th man charged in phone-jamming

    AP reports: The former co-owner of a telemarketing firm pleaded not guilty Monday to participating in a Republican scheme to jam Democrats' get-out-the-vote phone lines on Election Day 2002.

    Shaun Hansen, 34, of Spokane, Wash., was indicted by a federal grand jury on March 8, but the charges were not made public until his arraignment Monday.

    Hansen is charged with conspiring to commit and aiding the commission of telephone harassment. Prosecutors say he was paid $2,500 to have employees at Idaho-based Mylo Enterprises place hundreds of hang-up calls to phone lines installed to help voters get rides to the polls on Nov. 5, 2002. Among the contests decided that day was the close U.S. Senate race in which Republican Rep. John Sununu beat outgoing Democratic Gov. Jeanne Shaheen. -- Fourth man charged in GOP phone-jamming scam - Boston.com

    March 20, 2006

    New Hampshire: Tobin argues for dismissal of charges or new trial

    The Bangor Daily News reports: A Bangor man's hopes of avoiding prison for being part of a scheme to jam get-out-the-vote phone lines now rest with a federal judge after an hour-long hearing Friday.

    U.S. District Judge Steven McAuliffe took under advisement three motions seeking to keep James Tobin, 45, from being sentenced in May on his conspiracy conviction. One motion asks the judge to set aside the verdict, another seeks a new trial, and a third asks that the indictment against Tobin be dismissed.

    The longtime Republican political consultant was convicted in December after a six-day trial by a jury of 11 women and one man of conspiring to jam New Hampshire Democrats' get-out-the-vote phone lines three years ago and guilty of aiding and abetting the jamming of those phone lines. -- 3 motions seek to keep Tobin free - Judy Harrison (176)

    January 23, 2006

    New Hampshire: Tobin asks judge to overturn his conviction

    The Bangor Daily News reports: Attorneys for a Bangor, Maine, man have filed three motions in federal court seeking to overturn his conviction last month in a phone-jamming scheme.

    James Tobin, 45, of Bangor is asking U.S. District Judge Steven McAuliffe to grant him a new trial, enter a judgment of acquittal, and to arrest or nullify the judgment in his case. The U.S. attorneys prosecuting the case have 10 working days to reply to the motions.

    Tobin is scheduled to be sentenced on March 21 in U.S. District Court in Concord. McAuliffe is expected to rule on the motions before then.

    In one of the motions, filed Tuesday, Tobin's Washington, D.C., attorneys argue that the allegations in the indictment don't fit the alleged crime because the phone-jamming plan did not intend to threaten, frighten or cause serious emotional distress on the recipient. -- Tobin disputes jamming verdict - Judy Harrison (176)

    Wisconsin: Milwaukee tire-slashing case ends in plea deals for 4 and guilty verdict for 1

    MilwaukeeChannel.com reports: A judge on Friday accepted no contest pleas by four of five Democratic presidential campaign workers to misdemeanor criminal damage to property for puncturing the tires of Republican vehicles on Election Day 2004.

    Milwaukee County Circuit Judge Michael Brennan accepted the pleas after a jury deliberated for a second day after an eight-day trial on felony property damage charges. The defendants had faced potential 3 1/2-year prison terms and $10,000 fines.

    The lesser misdemeanor charges carry potential nine-month jail terms and fines of $10,000.

    Defendant Justin Howell was the only one not included in the deal, and jurors found him not guilty Friday of the felony charge. -- TheMilwaukeeChannel.com - Steps Away - GOP Tire-Slashing Trial Comes To Surprising End

    January 20, 2006

    Wisconsin: jury deliberating in tire-slashing case

    The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reports: The prayers of U.S. Rep. Gwen Moore, former Acting Mayor Marvin Pratt and a dozen others who clutched their hands in a Milwaukee courtroom went unanswered Thursday.

    Their vigil continues this morning as jurors resume deliberating whether the sons of Moore, of Pratt, and three other defendants are guilty of slashing tires to cripple Republican get-out-the-vote efforts on election day 2004.

    The trial took eight days, including half a day spent on closing arguments, before jurors got the case midafternoon Thursday. Less than three hours later, the jury went home for the evening, having asked to look at a few cell phone records and police reports, a request that made defense attorneys somewhat nervous.

    Assistant District Attorney David Feiss told jurors in his closing argument that those cell phone records were strong evidence that Michael Pratt, 33, and Lavelle Mohammad, 36, had been on the phone with each other on W. Capitol Dr. at about 3:30 a.m., about the time someone cut tires on 25 rented vans. -- JS Online: Jury starts deliberation in tire-slashing case

    January 8, 2006

    New Hampshire: GOP claims Dem suit is interfering with GOP's civil rights

    The Union Leader reports: The state Republican Party is charging that a Democratic lawsuit against it for an illegal phone jamming operation in 2002 was actually part of a national Democratic plan to “advance their political agenda” in the 2004 general election.

    The state Democratic chairman calls the claim baseless and “pretty sad.”

    The conviction last month of a former high-ranking Republican official for conspiring to jam state Democratic Party and firefighters union get-out-the-vote telephone banks on Election Day 2002 has re-focused attention on an 18-month-old civil suit filed by the Democrats seeking damages for the illegal GOP operation.

    The case is expected to go to trial later this year, and a series of motions have been recently filed.

    The Republican State Committee’s attorney, Ovide Lamontagne, contends in court papers that the state Democratic Party filed its civil suit against the Republicans “in attempt to use the court system to interfere with the (GOP’s) constitutionally protected election activities.” -- Phone jamming: GOP fires back

    December 28, 2005

    New Hampshire: Tobin seeks new trial

    AP reports: James Tobin of Bangor, Maine, filed a motion on Dec. 21 seeking a new trial and to overturn the jury's guilty verdict. The documents filed in federal court in Concord do not include Tobin's arguments for a new trial. They are expected to be filed within a month. -- Former GOP official seeks new trial - Boston.com

    December 20, 2005

    New Hampshire: on-the-spot reporting from the Tobin trial

    Betsy Devine left a comment on one of my recent posts about the Tobin trial. Unfortunately, the link she left in her comment is malformed, so let me recommend that you go
    here and read her many posts on the trial.

    Her caustic comments about the AP reporter alone are worth the few minutes it will take to read her stuff.


    December 15, 2005

    New Hampshire: Tobin convicted of telephone harassment but acquited on conspiracy

    AP reports: A former top Republican Party official was convicted on telephone harassment charges Thursday for his part in a plot to jam the Democrats' phones on Election Day 2002.

    The federal jury acquitted James Tobin of the most serious charge against him, of conspiring to violate voters' rights.

    Tobin, 45, of Bangor, Maine, was President Bush's New England campaign chairman last year. He could get up seven years in prison and $500,000 in fines when he is sentenced in March. -- Jurors Return Mixed Phone-Jamming Verdict

    How long till ...

  • President Bush says Tobin was doing a heckuva job?
  • President Bush pardons Tobin?
  • December 12, 2005

    New Hampshire: jury deliberates in Tobin case

    AP reports: A jury on Monday began deliberations in the case of a former national Republican Party official accused of orchestrating an election day phone-jamming plot against New Hampshire Democrats.

    Earlier in the day, lawyers concluded their arguments in the case of James Tobin, President Bush's former New England campaign chairman. Deliberations were to continue Tuesday. -- newsobserver.com | Politics

    New Hampshire: Tobin defense rests after 2 witnesses

    The Bangor Daily News reported Friday: After calling just two witnesses, the defense rested Thursday afternoon in the trial of a Bangor man accused of being part of a conspiracy to deprive New Hampshire residents of their right to vote three years ago by jamming phone lines at Democratic offices around the state with more than 800 hang-up calls.

    James Tobin, 45, did not take the stand in his own defense. The prosecution rested about noon Thursday. ...

    Four former Democratic campaign workers testified during the day about how repeated hang-up calls affected their get-out-the-vote efforts on Election Day in 2002, when Democrat Jeanne Shaheen, a former governor of the state, was in a tight race for the U.S. Senate with Republican John Sununu, whose father once held the office.

    New Hampshire state Rep. Jane Clemons, D-Nashua, testified Thursday that her city's Democratic Committee had hired a limousine to give voters rides to the polls on Election Day, but it was never used. -- Defense rests in Tobin trial
    Phone-jam case to jury Monday - Judy Harrison (176)

    December 7, 2005

    New Hampshire: First testimony in Tobin trial

    The Bangor News reports: Looking pale from his recent seven-month stint in prison, the former executive director of the New Hampshire Republican Party took the stand Tuesday in the trial of a Bangor, Maine, man accused of being part of a conspiracy to block Democrats from using get-out-the-vote phone lines in 2002.

    Charles "Chuck" McGee of Manchester testified in U.S. District Court that the idea to jam the opposition's phone lines in key communities in southern New Hampshire was his own.

    McGee said James Tobin of Bangor, who was the Republican National Committee's political director for New England, gave him the name and number of the man who helped him implement the plan. ...

    A former Marine, McGee said that he got the idea a few days before the 2002 election when he received a mailing in support of Democratic candidates that offered rides to the polls.

    "It reminded me that the other side would have a get-out-the-vote effort on Election Day," he said. "It might have made me think of the idea of disrupting their communications. That eventually coalesced into phone-jamming."

    In answer to a question from lead prosecutor Andrew Levchuk, McGee said that he had learned in the military that if the enemy "can't communicate, you can disrupt their operation." -- Witness describes Tobin's part in phone-jams - Judy Harrison (176)

    New Hampshire: Tobin phone-jamming trial begins

    AP reports: A former national Republican Party official played a key role in an Election Day 2002 phone jamming plot against New Hampshire Democrats, the prosecution said Tuesday during opening statements.

    James Tobin, President Bush's onetime New England campaign chairman, is being tried on one federal count of conspiring against voters' rights and several counts involving telephone harassment. He could face up to 10 years in prison if convicted.

    U.S. Attorney Andrew Levchuk said the state GOP's former executive director, Chuck McGee, had Tobin's blessing for the scheme as well as his help in the plot to disrupt Democratic get-out-the-vote phone banks and a nonpartisan ride-to-the-polls line. -- Ex-GOP Official Faces Conspiracy Charge

    December 1, 2005

    New Hampshire: GOP fights phone-records subpoena

    This is an earlier story I had missed in the great phone-jamming case in New Hampshire.

    AP reports: New Hampshire's Republican Party is fighting a subpoena from federal prosecutors for documents from the party's own investigation of a plot to jam Democratic phone lines on Election Day 2002.

    Prosecutors want the materials for their case against James Tobin, a former national Republican campaign official who is scheduled to go on trial next Tuesday.

    The subpoena demands papers and computer hard drives examined by lawyers the Republican Party hired to conduct a 2003 investigation of the jamming allegations.

    Republicans say turning over the documents would violate attorney-client privilege. According to papers filed Monday in federal court, they are also leery of giving up computer files containing campaign strategy and other confidential political information. -- N.H. GOP tries to block phone subpoena

    New Hampshire: Federal Judge refuses to dismiss remaining charges against Tobin

    AP reports: A federal judge has ordered a former high-ranking Republican official to stand trial on a charge of conspiring to injure the voting rights of New Hampshire citizens.

    U.S. District Judge Steven McAuliffe denied James Tobin’s request to dismiss the charge yesterday. Tobin also faces three other counts of taking part in a Republican plot to jam get-out-the-vote phone lines sponsored by the Democratic Party and the nonpartisan Manchester firefighters union on Election Day 2002. Both groups offered voters rides to the polls.

    At the time, Tobin headed the national committee working to get Republicans elected to the U.S. Senate. Last year, he was the New England director of President Bush’s reelection campaign, but he resigned a month before the election when the phone jamming accusations surfaced.

    Three weeks ago, McAuliffe refused to dismiss the other three counts, but said he would consider the voting rights charge separately. Tobin’s trial is scheduled to begin next week. -- Tobin facing trial on voting-rights charge

    November 18, 2005

    Louisiana: "With friends like FEMA, who needs Jim Crow?"

    Benjamin Greenberg writes in In These Times: When Hurricane Katrina came ashore in New Orleans, it destroyed half the city’s voting precincts and scattered 300,000 of the city’s residents, most of them black, across the country. With citywide elections still scheduled in February and March for 20 key public offices—including mayor, criminal sheriff, civil sheriff and all city council members—restoring the city’s democratic capability might seem an urgent task to some, but not to the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA).

    All evacuees who apply for assistance must tell FEMA who they are, where they lived before they were displaced and where they live now. Since early October, Louisiana Secretary of State Al Ater, a Democrat, has been dogging the agency for the names and temporary addresses of evacuees, so he can send them information about how to maintain their right to vote in Louisiana.

    Because many evacuees are far from New Orleans and cannot make a special trip home for the elections, their only way to vote will be by absentee ballot. But, citing privacy concerns, FEMA stonewalled Ater for weeks. They finally reached an agreement on November 8, but it is an open question if the compromise will lead to fair elections.

    Ater has also requested $750,000 from FEMA for a Nationwide Voter Outreach and Education Campaign. -- Voter Disenfranchisement by Attrition

    November 11, 2005

    New Hampshire: Tobin trial starts Dec. 6

    AP reports: A former national Republican Party official will stand trial on charges he conspired to jam Democratic get-out-the-vote phone lines on Election Day 2002, a federal judge said Thursday.

    James Tobin of Bangor Maine sought dismissal of conspiracy charges, arguing the government's allegations were insufficient. Judge Steven McAuliffe denied those motions, but said he would consider a motion to dismiss another charge, relating to violating others' right to vote. A trial is scheduled to begin Dec. 6.

    Tobin's lawyers argued the allegations against their client may have prevented some from mustering voters, but did not amount to blocking voters from their right to cast a ballot, a distinction McAuliffe agreed to mull over.

    Racially motivated beatings, destroying, altering, falsifying and refusing to count ballots had been decreed by other courts as violations of the right to vote, but jamming phone lines to prospective voters has not, lawyer Tobin Romero said Thursday. -- Tobin asks court to dismiss phone jamming charges - Boston.com

    Thanks to Josh Marshall for the link.

    Tobin's argument reminds me of Woody Guthrie's song:

    Yes, as through this world I’ve wandered / I’ve seen lots of funny men; / Some will rob you with a six-gun, / And some with a fountain pen.

    November 9, 2005

    Obama introduces bill to stop deceptive practices in elections

    For too long the Republicans have been the ones talking about crime in elections. Of course, they see crime only in the possibility that the "wrong" people will register or will vote. Now Sen. Barack Obama has taken back the high ground for the Democrats by turning the conversation to the prevention of dirty tricks.

    A press release from Sen. Barack Obama: U.S. Senator Barack Obama (D-IL) Tuesday introduced legislation to protect Americans from using tactics that intimidate voters and prevent them from exercising their rights on Election Day.

    Obama’s legislation, the Deceptive Practices and Voter Intimidation Prevention Act of 2005, would make it illegal for anyone to knowingly attempt to prevent others from exercising his or her right to vote by providing deceptive information and would require the Attorney General to fully investigate these allegations. The legislation would also require the Attorney General, in conjunction with the Election Assistance Commission, to provide accurate election information when allegations of deceptive practices are confirmed.

    “One of our most sacred rights as Americans is the right to make our voice heard at the polls,” said Obama. “But too often, we hear reports of mysterious phone calls and mailers arriving just days before an election that seek to mislead and threaten voters to keep them from the polls. And those who engage in these deceptive and underhanded campaign tactics usually target voters living in minority or low-income neighborhoods. This legislation would ensure that for the first time, these incidents are fully investigated and that those found guilty are punished.”

    As recently as the 2004 Presidential election there have been reports of tactics aimed at preventing rightful voters from exercising their right to cast a ballot. In Milwaukee some voters received fliers from the non-existent “Milwaukee Black Voters League,” warning that voters risk imprisonment for voting if they were ever found guilty of any offense – even a traffic violation. In one county in Ohio, some voters received false mailings claiming that anyone registered to vote by the Kerry Campaign or the NAACP would be barred from voting. Similar reports were echoed in jurisdictions across the country and underscore the need for concerted action against such tactics. But many of these incidents are never investigated, and the culprit is never discovered.

    Obama’s legislation would provide a criminal penalty for deceptive practices, with penalties of up to $100,000 or one year imprisonment, or both. The legislation would also require the Attorney General to work with the Federal Communications Commission and the Election Assistance Commission to determine the feasibility of using the public broadcasting system as a means of providing voters with full and accurate Election Day information.

    Obama’s legislation is supported by the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, Common Cause, the Arc of the United States, the People for the American Way, the National Disability Rights Network, United Cerebral Palsy and the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law.

    Update: A copy of the bill is here.

    November 7, 2005

    Virginia: GOP's latest dirty trick

    Kos has an MP3 of a call supposedly made by Tim Kaine, Democratic candidate for governor of Virginia: So here's the deal -- the Republicans took statements Kaine has made and spliced them together to put together this out-of-context call. The horrible music in the background is there to mask the splicing.

    This call is being played in liberal areas. A different spliced version of the call, talking about how liberal he is on choice and all those other hot-button social issues, is being played in conservative areas.

    And it's all being funded by the Republican Governor's Association, as Bob at the Swing State Project has noted. -- Daily Kos: VA-Gov: Dirty tricks, the robo call

    The Kaine campaign tells me that they have filed a complaint with the State Election Commission regarding this and earlier dirty tricks by the GOP.

    September 15, 2005

    New Hampshire: Dems sue RNC and NRSC over phone-jamming

    AP reports: The New Hampshire Democratic Party added more defendants Wednesday to a lawsuit over the jamming of its phone lines on Election Day 2002.

    Repeated hang-up calls overwhelmed the party's get-out-the-vote phone banks and a ride-to-the-polls line for more than an hour that day. Former state GOP director Chuck McGee and Republican consultant Allen Raymond pleaded guilty to taking part in the scheme and James Tobin, a former regional director for the Republican National Committee, is scheduled for trial in December.

    As those criminal cases proceeded in federal court, Democrats sued the state Republican Party, McGee and Raymond in Hillsborough County Superior Court seeking more information about the plan and reimbursement for its costs of setting up the phone banks.

    On Wednesday, they expanded the civil lawsuit to include Tobin, former state GOP chairman John Dowd, the Republican National Committee and the National Republican Senatorial Committee. -- Democrats add defendants to phone-jamming lawsuit - Boston.com

    August 15, 2005

    New Hampshire: RNC paying Tobin's legal bills

    The Union Leader reports: The Republican National Committee began making huge payments to accused 2002 telephone jam conspirator James Tobin's private lawyers a week after he was indicted by a federal grand jury, records show.

    According to RNC financial disclosures, it paid the high-powered Washington law firm Williams and Connolly $162,646 on Dec. 9, 2004, eight days after a grand jury charged that Tobin had aided former state GOP executive director Charles McGee in setting up an operation to jam voter-turnout telephone banks at Democratic and labor union offices throughout the state.

    Five more disbursements were made on May 19, 2005, the same day a new indictment against Tobin was made public. Those five disbursements added up to $559,736, for a total of $722,382. ...

    Tobin allegedly committed the federal offenses while working as a regional political director for the RNC-affiliated National Republican Senatorial Campaign Committee, which was working to get Republicans elected to the Senate. A key 2002 Senate race on which Tobin focused was John E. Sununu's victorious campaign against Democratic former Gov. Jeanne Shaheen. -- The Union Leader and New Hampshire Sunday News - 15-Aug-05 - RNC has paid Tobin's legal bills since indictment

    June 21, 2005

    Mississippi: Killen convicted of manslaughter

    AP reports: The jury that convicted a one-time Ku Klux Klansman on Tuesday of manslaughter in the 1964 slayings of three civil rights workers was frustrated that there was not enough evidence for a murder conviction, one of the jurors said.

    Warren Paprocki, a 54-year-old engineer who moved to Philadelphia from southern California several years ago, said the jury was torn over a lack of evidence tying 80-year-old Edgar Ray Killen to the shooting deaths of James Chaney, Michael Schwerner and Andrew Goodman in rural Neshoba County during what was called the "Freedom Summer."

    "I think initially we were polarized by two positions," Paprocki said. "On the one hand, this guy needs to be convicted and on the other hand, the state needed to present better evidence."

    The three civil rights workers were registering black voters when they were ambushed by Klansman exactly 41 years ago Tuesday. Their bodies were found 44 days later in an earthen dam. They had been shot to death. -- AP Wire | 06/21/2005 | Juror says panel in Killen trial frustrated not enough evidence for murder conviction

    June 19, 2005

    New Hampshire: Judge wants to see all the GOP documents on phone jamming

    The Union Leader reports: A judge has ordered the New Hampshire Republican State Committee to provide him with all documents from an internal GOP probe of an illegal operation that jammed Democratic and firefighters union get-out-the-vote telephone banks on Election Day 2002.

    Judge Philip Mangones ruled this week that by June 30, the state GOP must give him “a complete copy of all internal investigation reports and their supporting documentation.”

    The Republicans had provided some documents to the court in the past, but withheld others, citing the attorney-client privilege and saying some were “work product.”

    Mangones said he will review the documents in private “to determine whether the privileges asserted by (the Republicans) are well-founded.”

    If he finds the documents do not contain information that falls under the attorney-client and work product privileges, Mangones is expected to allow them into evidence in a Democratic Party civil lawsuit against the Republicans filed last summer. -- State GOP ordered to provide documents

    Thanks to Josh Marshall of Talking Points Memo for keeping up with this story.

    June 17, 2005

    Mississippi: Killen tied to killing of Goodman, Schwerner, Chaney

    AP reports: The day after three civil rights workers were killed in 1964, local Ku Klux Klan leader Edgar Ray Killen talked about the deaths to a young Meridian police officer he had sworn in to the Klan only a few months earlier, the ex-officer testified Friday.

    Mike Hatcher - who said he attended only a few Klan meetings - said Killen gave him a gun to pass on to someone else.

    "He proceeded to tell me, 'We got rid of those civil rights workers. You won't have no more trouble out of Goatee,'" Hatcher, 68, testified in Killen's murder trial. ...

    The most emotional testimony of the day came from Goodman's 89-year-old mother, Carolyn Goodman of New York, who talked about how Andy, the middle of her three sons, wanted to go to Mississippi for the Freedom Summer of 1964 to help register black voters.

    Andy Goodman met Schwerner at a civil-rights training seminar in Oxford, Ohio, in mid-June 1964, and drove with him to Mississippi after Schwerner learned of the June 16 burning of Mount Zion United Methodist Church. Schwerner had spoken to the congregation May 31 about establishing a freedom school to teach black people about their rights. -- AP Wire | 06/17/2005 | Witness says Killen told him 'We got rid of those civil rights workers'

    May 17, 2005

    New Hampshire: the grand jury "included ... Democrats"

    AP reports: A former Republican official says charges that he conspired to jam Democrats' get-out-the-vote phone lines on Election Day 2002 should be dismissed because the grand jury that indicted him included Democrats.

    The grand jury "included purported victims of the alleged scheme -- Democrats," said a motion filed by James Tobin, who at the time was the Northeast political director of the national Republican Senatorial Committee. He was indicted in December.

    "The government must demonstrate that it properly screened the grand jury to prevent bias, and if it cannot or will not do so, the indictment must be dismissed," the motion said.

    And if the case does go to trial, Tobin's lawyers want to question prospective jurors extensively about their politics and their exposure to media reports of the case to root out potential bias. -- Boston.com / News / Local / Maine / Former GOP official says grand jury included Democrats

    Thanks to Talking Points Memo for the link.

    March 12, 2005

    New Hampshire: TPM wonders what's next

    Talking Points Memo suggests what may be coming after Jim Tobin is tried in New Hampshire for the phone-jamming scheme: Keep an eye out, though, for what comes next. And whether it pulls in someone else with lofty ambitions in the next few years: Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist (R) of Tennessee.

    When Tobin organized this election-tampering scam he was working as the Northeast field director for the NRSC (the campaign committee of the Senate GOP). That was the cycle that Frist chaired the committee.

    We hear that those involved in the phone-jamming scam are now claiming that the plan was aired with NRSC personnel in Washington in advance. If any of the key players are willing to testify to that effect when Tobin goes on trial later this year it could quickly open up a Washington dimension to this story. -- Talking Points Memo: by Joshua Micah Marshall

    February 8, 2005

    New Hampshire: GOP operative sentenced for phone-jamming

    The Washington Post reports: A federal judge in New Hampshire sentenced the former president of an Alexandria political consulting firm on Tuesday to five months in prison, the first jail term handed out in connection with the jamming of state Democratic Party phone lines on Election Day in 2002.

    Allen Raymond, who headed the now-defunct company GOP Marketplace, which was hired by New Hampshire Republicans for election-related telemarketing services, pleaded guilty last summer to one count of conspiring to make harassing phone calls. ...

    Raymond was the first to be sentenced of three men charged after the revelation that Democratic get-out-the-vote efforts in Manchester, Nashua, Rochester and Claremont were peppered with more than 800 computer-generated calls over a period of 90 minutes on the morning of Nov. 5, 2002.

    Firefighters in Manchester, who were offering rides to the polls independently of the two parties, were also targeted, prosecutors said. Police later determined that an Idaho-based firm called Milo Enterprises had been engaged by GOP Marketplace to make automated hang-up calls. -- Former GOP Consultant Sentenced to Prison (washingtonpost.com)

    January 19, 2005

    Ohio: AG asks for sanctions against election protection attorneys

    Steve Rosenfeld and Harvey Wasserman write in the Columbus Free Press: In a stunning legal attack, Ohio's Republican Attorney General has moved for sanctions against the four attorneys who sued George W. Bush et. al. in an attempt to investigate the Buckeye State's bitterly contested November 2 election.

    Robert Fitrakis, Susan Truitt, Cliff Arnebeck and Peter Peckarsky were named by Attorney General James Petro in a filing with the Ohio Supreme Court. Petro charges the November Moss v Bush and Moss v. Moyer filings by the Election Protection legal team were "frivolous." Petro is demanding court sanctions and fines.

    "Instead of evidence, contesters offered only theory, conjecture, hypothesis and invective," the Attorney General's January 18th memo about the suit said. "A contest proceeding is not a toy for idle hands. It is not to be used to make a political point, or to be used as a discovery tool, or be used to inconvenience or harass public officials, or to be used as a publicity gimmick."

    But Cliff Arnebeck says it has been Petro and Ohio's partisan Republican Secretary of State, J. Kenneth Blackwell, who have stonewalled the election challenge legal proceedings. Both have refused to submit any evidence to the court to refute the allegations in the election challenge case - claiming George W. Bush did not win a majority in Ohio - and Petro's office has also refused to allow any Ohio public election official to be deposed. -- The Free Press -- Independent News Media - Election 2004

    January 18, 2005

    Kerry says voter suppression occurred in election

    AP reports: Sen. John F. Kerry, in some of his most pointed public comments yet about the presidential election, invoked Martin Luther King Jr.'s legacy on Monday as he criticized President Bush and decried reports of voter disenfranchisement.

    The Massachusetts Democrat, Bush's challenger in November, spoke at Boston's annual Martin Luther King Jr. Day Breakfast. He reiterated that he decided not to challenge the election results, but said "thousands of people were suppressed in the effort to vote."

    "Voting machines were distributed in uneven ways. In Democratic districts, it took people four, five, 11 hours to vote, while Republicans [went] through in 10 minutes -- same voting machines, same process, our America," he said.

    In his comments, Kerry also compared the democracy-building efforts in Iraq with voting in the United States, saying that Americans had their names purged from voting lists and were kept from casting ballots. -- Kerry Cites Suppressed Votes in Election (washingtonpost.com)

    November 10, 2004

    Daschle drops suit against GOP intimidation

    AP reports: A lawsuit filed by Sen. Tom Daschle that sought to prevent Republican poll watchers from intimidating American Indian voters will be dropped, a spokesman for Daschle said Monday.

    ''Now that Election Day has come and gone, the issue is moot,'' said Dan Pfeiffer, deputy campaign manager for Daschle, who lost his bid for a fourth U.S. Senate term last week. ...

    The Daschle campaign alleged that Republican poll watchers had intimidated Indian voters in Lake Andes, an area that votes heavily Democratic.

    After a hearing that lasted into the early morning on Election Day, U.S. District Judge Lawrence Piersol of Sioux Falls partially granted Daschle's request to limit the activities of Republican poll watchers.

    The temporary restraining order, issued about five hours before polls opened, prohibited GOP poll watchers in Charles Mix County from following Indian voters out of polling places. It also barred them from taking down the license numbers of vehicles that delivered Indian voters to polling places. -- American News | 11/09/2004 | Lawsuit to be dropped on alleged voter intimidation

    November 7, 2004

    GOP challengers in Saginaw

    The Saginaw News reports on the actions of Republican challengers:

    Elizabeth Coleman, also in line, suggested that the weary woman take a seat while the granddaughter held her place.

    "A lady with the Republican poll challengers saw this and called out, 'I'm challenging. She can't have a substitute person in line,"' Coleman says. ...

    Meanwhile, she observed another GOP challenger whom she said made an "outburst" when a poll worker opened a ballot box and shook a container of ballots in order to prevent the optical scanner from jamming. ...

    "A guy came in and said his name was 'Quincy Jones,' the name of the singer. That can't be a common name, and so our poll challenger challenged him," [Republican challenger coordinator Jim] Howell said. -- GOP scrutiny spurs conflict

    November 3, 2004

    Dahlia Lithwick: "The legal nightmare that never materialized"

    Dahlia Lithwick writes on Slate.com: Like bombs that never detonated, most of the cataclysmic legal battles we'd all been anticipating are scattered inert across the country this morning, with the last among them the fight over Ohio's provisional ballots. Those potential landmines included a lawsuit in Pennsylvania over absentee ballots, last-minute suits in Florida over late-to-arrive absentee ballots, and yesterday's skirmishes in Ohio over challengers at polling places. Similarly, Colorado's looming legal crisis vaporized with the failure of Amendment 36, the effort to reapportion the state's electoral votes. Those fights are now moot or irrelevant. In the end, the 2004 election was decided by the voters, not the courts, a result that's far better for all of us in the long run.

    Ohio really could have been the new Florida. The final numbers showed George W. Bush leading Kerry with a margin of approximately 135,000 votes. Depending on whom you asked this morning, the number of provisional ballots is greater than that: Ohio Secretary of State J. Kenneth Blackwell said that as many as 150,000 of the state ballots were provisional, other elections officials have put that number over 200,000. Any way you sliced it, that's less than the "margin of litigation" and it opened up the possibility of a host of new election challenges. -- Lawyered Up - The legal nightmare that never materialized. By Dahlia Lithwick

    November 2, 2004

    "What is Voting Intimidation?"

    Josh Levin writes on Slate.com: In response to a lawsuit by Sen. Tom Daschle, a U.S. District Judge ruled this morning that Republican poll watchers in South Dakota were intimidating Native American voters by following them out of polling places and taking down their license plate numbers. But in another decision today, the 6th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that GOP poll watchers weren't intimidating Ohio voters by checking their names against a list of registered voters. So, what exactly do the courts consider voter intimidation?

    Courts consistently rule that physical violence or threats constitute voter intimidation, but, as today's conflicting rulings show, there is no judicial consensus on which nonviolent acts are legally considered intimidating. State and federal laws that ban intimidation don't offer much guidance on how courts should define it. The Ohio law, for instance, says that "no person shall … attempt by intimidation, coercion, or other unlawful means" to keep someone from voting. The most significant federal law banning intimidation is the Voting Rights Act of 1965, which states in Section 11(b) that "No person ... shall intimidate, threaten, or coerce ... any person for voting or attempting to vote." -- What Is Voter Intimidation? - Is it one thing in Ohio and another in South Dakota? By Josh Levin

    Minnesota -- challengers

    AP reports: Minnesota Republicans failed Tuesday in a bid to push the liberal group MoveOn.org away from polling places, as a judge refused to grant a restraining order. Elsewhere, complaints of voting problems were isolated despite immense turnout.

    Six women in Duluth reported being challenged by a GOP monitor who called police after an election judge cleared the women to vote. In Red Lake, a Republican challenger was ejected by tribal police after complaints that he was approaching voters and intimidating judges.

    The GOP said both challengers raised legitimate questions about voters. ...

    The GOP court challenge against MoveOn came after reports that the group's activists were operating inside the 100-foot cushion around polling places, and even working inside some precincts.

    But Hennepin County Judge Frank Connolly declined to intervene, saying it appeared poll judges were enforcing the law against electioneering properly. -- WCCO: Judge Rejects Restraining Order Request Against MoveOn.org

    Michigan -- challengers

    AP reports: Michigan Republicans filed a lawsuit Tuesday over election challengers monitoring polling precincts in the city. The NAACP, meanwhile, threatened legal action related to the same issue.

    The Michigan Republican Party filed suit against the city, accusing election workers of wrongfully expelling some GOP poll challengers from precincts. It also asked the Wayne County Circuit Court to order Detroit officials to remove members of liberal interest group MoveOn.Org from polling places, executive director Greg McNeilly said.

    The NAACP had said it would ask a federal judge to bar challengers from Detroit's polling places, complaining of intimidation and harassment of voters. The civil rights group also said it would ask the judge to extend polling hours past 8 p.m. EST.

    But the U.S. District Court clerk in Detroit said nothing was filed. -- GOP sues over Detroit election challengers

    6th Circuit allows GOP challenges in Ohio

    The AP reports: A federal appeals court has cleared the way for political parties to challenge voters' eligibility at polling places throughout Ohio, ruling early Tuesday that their presence on Election Day was allowed under state law.

    Overturning the orders of two federal judges from the day before, a three-judge panel of the 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled 2-1 early Tuesday to grant emergency stays that will allow Republicans and Democrats one challenger per precinct each. The judges also consolidated the two appeals, which stemmed from separate lawsuits in Cincinnati and Akron.

    Plaintiffs' appeals to the U.S. Supreme Court were unsuccessful. Early Tuesday, Justice John Paul Stevens, who handles appeals from Ohio, refused a request to stay the 6th Circuit decision.

    Republicans say they wanted challengers in many polling places because of concerns about fraud. Democrats have accused the GOP of trying to suppress Democratic turnout. Hundreds of thousands of voters have been newly registered in a state President Bush and Sen. John Kerry both say they need to win.

    The 6th Circuit judges said that while it's in the public interest that registered voters cast ballots freely, there is also "strong public interest in permitting legitimate statutory processes to operate to preclude voting by those who are not entitled to vote." They also said smooth and effective administration of the voting laws means that the rules can't be changed hours before the election. -- Federal Court Clears Way for GOP Voting Challengers (AP via washingtonpost.com)

    November 1, 2004

    My predictions for the election

    No, I'm not going to predict the winners, but I will make some predictions about the legal issues for the election.

  • Despite the DNC v. RNC consent decree, the GOP will still try to challenge a voters in several swing states -- and the Democratic lawyers will fight them.
  • There will be a bunch of breakdowns in electronic machines. At least 100 machines will show zero votes even though voters have been using them all day.
  • Provisional ballots will slow the process of getting the final results so much that my advice to an apparently-losing candidate will be "don't concede." Wait for the provisional ballots, especially if you are a Democrat (since the Dems are conceded to have registered a lot more voters than the GOP). And if you are a Republican candidate, claim that the military vote should be counted before you will concede.
  • Well, that's three predictions. One based on old practices and two based on the new, improved voting technology we got since the last fiasco.

    And one final one: more litigation. (What would I write about if it were otherwise?)

    Federal judge in New Jersey bars GOP from challenging voters in Ohio -- wha?

    While I have been tied up today practicing law and going to the dentist, all sorts of stuff happened in Ohio. It is best summed up by rick Hasen's post, What the Heck is Going on in Ohio?. Rick cites to a Newsday article that covers the same story as this one:

    Bloomberg.com reports: A federal judge barred the Ohio Republican Party from using a list of 23,000 newly registered voters to challenge their ability to cast ballots in tomorrow's presidential election.

    U.S. District Judge Dickinson Debevoise in Newark, New Jersey, ruled that Republicans violated decrees he issued in the 1980s that barred political parties from using race or ethnicity as a factor in challenging the integrity of voter registrations.

    The ruling came after two U.S. judges in Ohio ruled in separate cases today that only poll workers, not challengers working for Republicans, could determine if the 23,000 people could vote. Debevoise said Ohio Republicans joined the Republican National Committee in unfairly targeting minority voters in trying to stamp out fraud.

    ``The effect of such activities is to deter qualified voters from voting,'' Debevoise said in issuing his ruling. ``The public interest is always served by encouraging people to vote.''

    Debevoise ordered the Republican National Committee to tell its poll challengers to forgo use of the list tomorrow. Attorneys for the national party immediately appealed to the U.S. 3rd Circuit Court of Appeals in Philadelphia, which oversees Debevoise. -- U.S. Judge Bars Ohio Republicans From Voter Challenge (Update1) (Bloomberg.com)

    Herewith a prediction: Judge Debevoise's order has the potential of preventing all sorts of mischief, not only in Ohio but elsewhere. But if, and only IF, the Third Circuit does not overturn it. The problem will be how broadly the old New Jersey injunction -- and the new New Jersey order -- can be read. Does they prevent all challenges by the GOP or just ones that could be considered racially disparate? I had a copy of the injunction many years ago, but can't find it now.

    UPDATE: thanks to Sardonic Views for pointing to the PDF of the 1987 decree (see comments to this post). Note that Paragraph C requires the "RNC shall not engage in, and shall not assist or participate in, any ballot security program unless the program ... has been determined by this Court to comply with the provisions of Consent Order and applicable law." That's pretty all inclusive.

    So on Tuesday, if you see any GOP challengers anywhere in the country, pull out your copy of the consent decree, give them a copy, and then ask for their names so that you can report them to the Court .

    More voter suppression tricks

    Josh Marshall reports: Same old, same old.

    Some group is South Carolina is circulating a phony letter, purporting to be from the NAACP, alerting voters that they'll be arrested at the polls if they have unpaid parking tickets or are behind in child support. -- Talking Points Memo: by Joshua Micah Marshall: October 31, 2004 - November 06, 2004 Archives

    Yet another even-handed story about charges by GOP and Dems

    The New York Times reports: In Lake County, Ohio, officials say at least a handful of voters have reported receiving a notice on phony board of elections letterhead saying that anyone who had registered through a variety of Democratic-leaning groups would not be allowed to vote this year.

    In Pennsylvania, an official of the state Republican Party said it sent out 130,000 letters congratulating newly registered voters but that 10,000 were returned, indicating that the people had died or that the address was nonexistent. Mark Pfeifle, the Republican spokesman, said the numbers showed that in their zeal to register new voters, Democratic-aligned groups had committed fraud.

    And in Michigan, Secretary of State Terri Lynn Land said she had to put out a statement in mid-October about where to send absentee ballots after voters in the Ann Arbor area received calls telling them to mail the ballots to the wrong address.

    With lawyers and poll watchers descending on battleground states and the presidential race tight enough that every vote could count, elections officials say that charges of voter intimidation and voter fraud, on the street or in courtrooms, are flying more furiously than any one can remember in recent elections. -- Washington > Campaign 2004 > Complaints: Charges of Fraud and Voter Suppression Already Flying

    Ohio: federal judge blocks GOP in-precinct challenges

    I just heard on NPR hourly news that a federal judge has blocked the Ohio law that allows any voter to challenge any other voter. Can't find anything in print yet.

    October 31, 2004

    Voter suppression efforts by the West Virginia GOP

    DailyKos writes: Here's a sampling of what we face nationwide.

    In West Virginia -- it was bad enough the first time.

    In a letter, Berkeley County clerk John Smalls cites calls from a cell phone were made to Eastern Panhandle democrats telling them that they were not registered to vote. The letter also said the calls informed democrats in some cases they wouldn`t be able to vote on Election Day [...]

    It`s considered an improper act because when upset citizens called the voter registration office to make sure they were registered to vote, indeed they were. So, who made these misleading calls? The Berkeley County Clerk`s Office traced the number voters gave as the source back to the Eastern Panhandle Republican Headquarters.

    Bad enough the first time, as I said. Problem is, despite their "slap on the wrist" (or because of it), local Republicans are still up to the same dirty tricks. From an email statement today:

    Democratic leaders in one of the nation's most hotly-contested battleground states are receiving reports of voter suppression activities that can be traced back to the Republican Party. The suppression activities have continued despite warnings from officials in Berkeley and Jefferson Counties.

    Hopefully these WV Republicans face the same fate as those in Ohio who tried to challenge 35,000 new voters for no reason other than disenfranchisement. After hundreds of hearings found zero illegal registrations, the entire lot of challenges was thrown out and the Republican masterminds now face criminal charges. -- Voter fraud and disenfranchisement (Daily Kos)

    The story contains much more, plus lots of embedded links.

    The GOP's Wisconsin offensive

    NewDonkey.com writes: It's no secret that many people in both campaigns think that Wisconsin could turn out to be the ballgame, and that's probably why the GOP is becoming most brazen in the Cheese State in voter supression strategies.

    Having been slam-dunked by Milwaukee officials who ruled against their effort to challenge thousands of mainly-minority voters in that city, Republicans have ramped up their claims to argue that 37,000 Milwaukee voters are registered with erroneous or non-existent addresses.

    Their case, like the one they lost last week, is based on the very questionable tactic--the one that led to a judicial consent agreement ruling this out back in the 1980s--of sending mail to targeted minority voters and representing undeliverable mail as indicating voter fraud. -- Another Vote Suppression Update (NewDonkey.com)

    The story contains embedded links.

    Voter fraud charges

    I am listening to This American Life on my local public radio station and this week's program's main story is about an undecided voter. The second story is reported by Jack Hitt about the charges of vote fraud by the two major parties about the other. The best the Republicans can come up with is two stories about a guy who registered 35 times and another who was paid in crack cocaine. On the other hand, the Democrats have the stories of the company which ran "non-partisan" voter drives but either would not register Democrats or would throw away their registration papers.

    Listen to it at This American Life's website. The voter fraud story starts about 20 minutes into the program.

    "It's just lie, cheat and steal, and ethics be damned"

    The Washington Post reports: As if things weren't complicated enough, here comes the dirt.

    Registered voters who have been somehow unregistered. Democrats who suddenly find they've been re-registered as Republicans. A flier announcing that Election Day has been extended through Wednesday.

    Dirty tricks are a staple of campaigns, but election officials say this year's could achieve new highs in numbers and new lows in scope, especially in key battleground states such as Florida and Ohio, where special-interest groups have poured in to influence the neck-and-neck race between President Bush and Sen. John F. Kerry.

    "In my 16 years as an election administrator, I've never seen anything like this," said Ion Sancho, supervisor of elections in Leon County, Fla. "I see it as an expression of a political culture that has evolved in the United States of win at any cost. It's not partisan, but it's just lie, cheat and steal, and ethics be damned." -- Now They're Registered, Now They're Not (washingtonpost.com)

    October 30, 2004

    Florida GOP to use the state's abondoned database to challenge voters

    The St. Petersburg Times reports: The Florida Republican Party said Thursday that more than 900 felons already have voted illegally or requested absentee ballots, triggering another controversy over the party's aggressive efforts to identify Floridians who might be unqualified to vote.

    Using two controversial and flawed state databases, Republicans also said they identified an additional 13,568 felons expected to vote by Election Day, based on their participation in the 2000 or 2002 elections or their recent registration as a new voter. ...

    Reporters for the St. Petersburg Times quickly found two Tampa Bay area individuals on the GOP list who say they have had their voting rights restored.

    Records show Neal D. Bolinger, 57, of St. Petersburg had his rights restored in 1974, two years after his conviction for grand larceny, and has been voting ever since.

    He used an absentee ballot last week to vote straight Republican. -- GOP: Florida felons already voting (St. Petersburg Times)

    Thanks to Abstract Appeal for the link.

    October 28, 2004

    Analysis: get ready for the GOP's "shock and awe" strategy

    NewDonkey.com writes: The latest political news from Ohio is important and instructive. A federal judge in Columbus blocked Republican efforts to force county election boards to review tens of thousands of new voter registrations. Before the ink was dry on the judge's order, the Ohio GOP's top lawyer said the action meant the GOP would challenge such voters at the polls on November 2. "We wanted to have all these questions resolved this week," said attorney Mark Weaver. "Now they won't be resolved until Tuesday, when all of these people are trying to vote. It can't help but create chaos, longer lines and frustration."

    In other words, the GOP is using the demise of one prong of its voter supression strategy to pre-justify the other. And I wouldn't be surprised if that's exactly the way they planned it. Now they can can get their "volunteers" out to "create chaos, longer lines and frustration" in minority polling places and sadly say that an "activist judge" who didn't care about voter fraud left them no choice. It's going to get worse, too: mark my words, when Democrats, civil rights attorneys, and voters themselves get visibly angry about this gambit, the GOPers will start whining about "potential violence" at the polls, and even pretend their goons are being intimidated and harassed. If nothing else, it will give them an excuse to go to court to contest Ohio's outcome if the state goes for Kerry.

    Now I have no direct evidence that Karl Rove has planned and is executing this voter suppression strategy, though it's interesting that every Republican hack and pundit in the universe started singing like a cicada about "voter fraud" about a week before the Ohio story got into the national news. But it sure as hell fits Rove's M.O. like a glove. -- The Rove M.O. (NewDonkey.com)

    Thanks to Talking Points Memo for the link.

    October 27, 2004

    Why the GOP might want to suppress the black vote

    Kevin Drum writes on The Washington Monthly site: Hmmm. Republican pollster Tony Fabrizio has just finished a survey of 12 battleground states and finds Bush and Kerry tied with 47% of the vote apiece. But when he weights for minority turnout based on the 2000 exit polls, Kerry is ahead 49.2%-45.7%. And when he further updates the weighting to take into account the most recent census results, Kerry is ahead 49.9%-44.7%.

    As Fabrizio blandly puts it, "It is clear that minority turnout is a wildcard in this race and represents a huge upside for Sen. Kerry and a considerable challenge for the President's campaign." More accurately, if Fabrizio is right -- that Kerry is ahead by 5% overall in the battleground states -- Kerry is a sure winner on November 2.

    Suddenly the Bush campaign's obsession with challenging voters in minority neighborhoods makes a lot of sense, doesn't it? Their own internal polling is probably telling them the same thing that Fabrizio's poll says: unless they somehow manage to keep the minority vote down, they're doomed. -- THE MINORITY VOTE (The Washington Monthly)

    Thanks to DailyKos for the link.

    Florida GOP's "caging list"

    Greg Palast on BBC News reports: A secret document obtained from inside Bush campaign headquarters in Florida suggests a plan - possibly in violation of US law - to disrupt voting in the state's African-American voting districts, a BBC Newsnight investigation reveals.

    Two e-mails, prepared for the executive director of the Bush campaign in Florida and the campaign's national research director in Washington DC, contain a 15-page so-called "caging list".

    It lists 1,886 names and addresses of voters in predominantly black and traditionally Democrat areas of Jacksonville, Florida.

    An elections supervisor in Tallahassee, when shown the list, told Newsnight: "The only possible reason why they would keep such a thing is to challenge voters on election day." -- The Writings of Greg Palast

    The BBC also has the Republican response to Palast's story: Second, the list was a listing of returned mail that came from a mailing that the Republican National Committee sent to new registrants in Duval County in Florida, encouraging newly registered Republicans, Democrats and Independents to vote Republican.

    Voter registration has been a heavy concentration of both parties this year and both national and state Republican parties have been reaching out to new registrants for the upcoming election.

    The Duval County list was created to collect the returned mail information from the Republican National Committee mailing and was intended and has been used for no purpose other than that. -- Republican response to Florida vote story (BBC News)

    October 25, 2004

    A report on GOP "ballot security" programs

    From a new report by Chandler Davidson, Tanya Dunlap, Gale Kenny, and Benjamin Wise: There are several noteworthy characteristics of these programs. They focus on minority precincts almost exclusively. There is often only the flimsiest evidence that vote fraud is likely to be perpetrated in such precincts. In addition to encouraging the presence of sometimes intimidating Republican poll watchers or challengers who may slow down voting lines and embarrass potential voters by asking them humiliating questions, these programs have sometimes posted people in official-looking uniforms with badges and side arms who question voters about their citizenship or their registration. In addition, warning signs may be posted near the polls, or radio ads may be targeted to minority listeners containing dire threats of prison terms for people who are not properly registered—messages that seem designed to put minority voters on the defensive. Sometimes false information about voting qualifications is sent to minority voters through the mail.

    The purpose of this Report is to provide a brief history of some of the most indefensible Republican ballot security programs from the 1950s on, but particularly, in Chapter 6, from 1981 through 2002. These case studies, along with the description of events in Louisville, Kentucky in 2003, presented in Chapter 1, are intended to give the reader a sense of the nature of Republican ballot security excesses, and why they continue to pose a threat to minority voters some forty years after the Voting Rights Act was passed. -- REPUBLICAN BALLOT SECURITY PROGRAMS: VOTE PROTECTION OR MINORITY VOTE SUPPRESSION—OR BOTH?

    Louisville GOP will not use challengers in minority precincts this year

    AP reports: Republicans will not post challengers at voting sites in Jefferson County [Kentucky] on Election Day, the county's GOP chairman said.

    The chairman, Jack Richardson IV, said he made the decision primarily because the party has arranged to have two Republican election officers at nearly every voting site.

    "I am content that, if we can have as many poll workers filling precincts as possible, we will have done our job," he said.

    Last year, Republicans' decision to station challengers at predominantly black precincts stirred charges that the party was trying to intimidate voters, although the challengers didn't question anyone's eligibility. -- Jefferson Co. Republicans won't use poll challengers (AP via enquirer.com)

    October 23, 2004

    GOP rolls out its voter-challengers

    The New York Times reports: Republican Party officials in Ohio took formal steps yesterday to place thousands of recruits inside polling places on Election Day to challenge the qualifications of voters they suspect are not eligible to cast ballots.

    Party officials say their effort is necessary to guard against fraud arising from aggressive moves by the Democrats to register tens of thousands of new voters in Ohio, seen as one of the most pivotal battlegrounds in the Nov. 2 elections.

    Election officials in other swing states, from Arizona to Wisconsin and Florida, say they are bracing for similar efforts by Republicans to challenge new voters at polling places, reflecting months of disputes over voting procedures and the anticipation of an election as close as the one in 2000.

    Ohio election officials said they had never seen so large a drive to prepare for Election Day challenges. They said they were scrambling yesterday to be ready for disruptions in the voting process as well as alarm and complaints among voters. Some officials said they worried that the challenges could discourage or even frighten others waiting to vote. -- Big G.O.P. Bid to Challenge Voters at Polls in Key State (New York Times)

    October 21, 2004

    More on the Mecklenburg County decision to cut funds for Sunday voting sites

    The Charlotte Observer reports: Mecklenburg County [North Carolina] commissioners may reverse a controversial attempt to stop Sunday voting that prompted outrage from Democrats and accusations of voter suppression on Wednesday.

    Commissioners Chairman Tom Cox has called a special meeting for Friday afternoon to reconsider a party-line vote from Tuesday night's meeting. Led by Republicans, the commissioners voted 5-3 not to accept a state grant for early voting because local elections officials planned to use part of the money for voting this Sunday.

    Voting will happen Sunday as scheduled at four libraries and the Board of Elections. Elections director Michael Dickerson said his office will appropriate other funds until the commissioners make a final decision.

    Tuesday's action has sparked a partisan, racially charged debate and interrupted the plans of many groups -- including several black churches -- for a "Souls to the Polls" effort after services on Sunday. -- Board rethinks Sunday voting (Charlotte Observer)

    This article contains more details than the article I carried yesterday.

    October 20, 2004

    GOP charges Dems with fraudulent registrations

    The Washington Post reports: President Bush's campaign charged yesterday that fraudulent voting engineered by pro-Democratic groups could throw the election to John F. Kerry -- a charge Democrats immediately attacked as a Republican smoke screen to justify the intimidation of minority voters on Election Day.

    With less than two weeks until Nov. 2, reports of skullduggery by both Kerry and Bush supporters are flying in key battleground states: a burglary that resulted in the theft of hundreds of completed registration forms in New Mexico; a man paid with crack cocaine to register fictitious voters such as "Mary Poppins" in Ohio; a Colorado resident who registered to vote not once, but 35 times.

    In a conference call with reporters yesterday, three top Bush campaign officials cited reports of thousands of phony registrations around the country. Deputy campaign manager Mark Wallace contended that already there is evidence of "an enormous amount of fraud" in the presidential race.

    Jack Corrigan, a senior adviser to the Democratic National Committee, called the Republicans' assertions "hysterical, hypocritical and false." -- Charges, Countercharges Exchanged Over Fraudulent Voting (washingtonpost.com)

    Virginia's parties will have lawyers in the field on election day

    The Washington Post reports: Top attorneys with Virginia's Democratic Party gathered Tuesday night to begin training 600 volunteer lawyers to fan across the state on Election Day to monitor the voting process and provide legal advice if irregularities emerge.

    Party officials said the effort, dubbed the 2004 Voter Protection Program, is fueled by the lingering fear of a Florida-style election debacle that could threaten the integrity of the process. They plan to hold five or six more training sessions over the next week.

    "We see our roles as supporting a system and cleaning up its inevitable mistakes," said Michael Signer, the voter protection coordinator for the state party. "We're giving voters the confidence that the system will work for them."

    Signer said the attorneys will stand outside polling places with other campaign workers and offer advice to voters who want it. He said they will also be on hand to advise party leaders if voting machines malfunction or there are other problems. -- Parties to Post Lawyers at Polls (washingtonpost.com)

    Mecklenburg County blocks early voting plan

    The Charlotte Observer reports: Early voting scheduled for this Sunday could be in jeopardy, after [Mecklenburg County, NC] commissioners voted 5-3 along party lines to withhold $55,992 in state funding for the program.Republicans argued that the State Board of Elections violated an established process when it approved Sunday voting.

    They said the county elections office would only get the money if it canceled Sunday voting.

    Democrats called the move an abuse of power and alleged that Republicans were trying to suppress voter turnout. Some groups planned to bus voters to the polls after church on Sunday.

    That prompted a quick retort from Republican Ruth Samuelson, who listed all the opportunities that people have to vote. -- County manager gets 7.1% raise; Board votes to withhold money if Sunday voting is not canceled (charlotte.com)

    A usually reliable source tells me: The sticking point was the county BOE's plan to keep 5 sites open on Sundays for early voting. (Sunday sites are open in Raliegh and Durham.) The commissioners who voted against the plan cited "fatih-based" reasons, among other things, but my contacts there believe that the real reason is the well-publicized "Souls to the Polls" campaign underway in black churches in Charlotte. Apparently, the campaign is planning to take 6,000 to 8,000 parishoners to the polls after church this Sunday.

    I just heard that the State Board of Elections has said that the Sunday voting sites are not optional. Either the county can accept the money or pay for it with property taxes. The county commission is meeting Friday to revisit the issue.

    LCCR asks parties to "cease and desist"

    From a Leadership Conference on Civil Rights press release: Citing recent poll challenge efforts by the Democratic and Republican parties, the Leadership Conference on Civil Rights (LCCR), the nation's oldest, largest and most diverse civil and human rights coalition, today called on the chairmen of both parties to "cease and desist."

    In letters to Terry McAuliffe and Ed Gillespie, Wade Henderson, executive director of LCCR, expressed his "deep concern about recent reports that partisan entities, including the Republican and Democratic Parties, plan to conduct aggressive challenges to voters at the polls during the November 2nd general election that are likely to impact minority voters more harshly than non-minority voters."

    In his letter to the two party leaders, Henderson noted a report in the Akron Beacon-Journal that the Republican and Democratic parties plan to invoke a little-used 1953 Ohio state law to put challengers at the polls, "a move that could create additional mayhem on November 2." -- LCCR Calls on Parties to Cease and Desist Poll Challenge Activities (civilrights.org)

    October 16, 2004

    Bush's regional chair resigns after being fingered in the 2002 phone-jamming incident

    Josh Marshall follows up on his earlier story about the tie-in between the GOP and the 2002 phone-jamming of the Democratic GOTV effort: Bush-Cheney New England campaign chair Jim Tobin resigns over election tampering scandal.

    A few suggested questions for national political reporters needing to do catch-up on this story.
    Tobin was named by the two men who've pled guilty in the case as part of their plea agreements. The Bush campaign has known for months of Tobin's involvement in this case. The only reason he resigned today is that this information was finally pried free from court documents. Why did they keep him in such a senior post if they knew of his role in such serious wrongdoing? -- (Talking Points Memo: by Joshua Micah Marshall)

    Marshall has more here.

    October 13, 2004

    Blacks complain of technicalities blocking their registration in Florida

    The Washington Post reports: Nearly a dozen African American ministers and civil rights leaders walked into the Duval County election office here, television cameras in tow, with a list of questions: How come there were not more early voting sites closer to black neighborhoods? How come so many blacks were not being allowed to redo incomplete voter registrations? Who was deciding all this?

    Standing across the office counter under a banner that read "Partners in Democracy" was the man who made those decisions, election chief Dick Carlberg. Visibly angry, the Republican explained why he decided the way he had: "We call it the law." ...

    In Duval County, 31,155 black voters had been added to the rolls by the end of last week. That is more than the total number of ballots nullified here four years ago, in a race that George W. Bush won by 537 votes.

    But hundreds more could show up at the polls only to find they cannot vote. The office has flagged 1,448 registrations as incomplete, and as of last week had yet to process 11,500 more.

    A Washington Post analysis found nearly three times the number of flagged Democratic registrations as Republican. Broken down by race, no group had more flagged registrations than blacks.

    This, in a heavily GOP county where records show that the number of blacks added to the rolls since 2000 approximately equals the number of non-Hispanic whites.

    Some registrations were missing critical information, such as a signature. Others had different problems, with some people listing post office boxes instead of street addresses or putting street addresses on the wrong line. -- Pushing to Be Counted in Fla. (washingtonpost.com)

    October 11, 2004

    Josh Marshall has more details on the phone jamming by the GOP

    Josh Marshall writes on his Talking Points Memo: Longtime TPM readers will remember the election day 'phone-jamming' scandal in New Hampshire in 2002. The state Republican party hired an Idaho company to knock out
    the phones of the Democratic get-out-the-vote operation on election day by placing hundreds of automated hang-up calls to their phone banks. The whole episode might seem to be fading back into history were it not for the fact that a motion filed Friday in US District Court in Concord claims that a key player in the felonious scheme was none other than the man who now serves as the New England Chairman of Bush-Cheney 2004.

    To put this all in context, let's review what we know.

    As we noted in August, two men have already entered guilty pleas in the case: Chuck McGee, former Executive Director of the State Republican party and Allen Raymond, a Republican political consultant. But earlier court filings and press reports had already made it clear that there was a third person involved. ...

    But on Friday, counsel for the New Hampshire State Democratic party filed a motion in the case that sheds some new light on the identity of this mystery individual. ...

    It reads, in part ...

    6. The victim believes that the unnamed individual who connected the criminal endeavors of convicted defendants McGee and Raymond was a regional director of the 2002 Republican Senatorial Committee and that his efforts were directed at depriving former governor Jeanne Shaheen of victory in her race for the United States Senate. This same individual is believed to currently be directing the New England Regional Bush-Cheney campaign, and thus is in a critical position from which he can engage in further illegal activities to distort the outcome of the presidential race of 2004. (emphasis added) -- Talking Points Memo: by Joshua Micah Marshall

    Josh puts it all together and figures out who this must be.

    October 6, 2004

    Anti-terror or anti-Democrat?

    The Washington Post reports:
    A push by the 50 states to coordinate anti-terrorism activities before Election Day is drawing warnings from Democrats, civil rights groups and election officials, who say excessive measures could suppress turnout among urban and minority voters.

    They contend that an elevated national threat warning -- and any actions in response -- could scare away voters, intentionally or not, especially in cities, which tend to vote Democratic. Voting rights advocates worry that fear of terrorism could lead to federal agents and local police being posted at polling places, a tactic that has historically been used in some places to intimidate minority citizens.

    Such generalized threats "could have the consequence of discouraging people that may otherwise be motivated to vote," said Jeff Fischer, senior adviser to IFES, a Washington-based organization that promotes democratic elections. ...

    Citing the March 11 bombings in Madrid before elections in Spain, Department of Homeland Security officials have warned that terrorists might try a similar assault here before the Nov. 2 elections. In recent weeks there has been a focus on Election Day, although the government has said it has no intelligence about the timing, status or target of a possible attack. -- Election Day Anti-Terrorism Plans Draw Criticism (washingtonpost.com)

    September 27, 2004

    Kenneth Blackwell and the Voting Rights Act

    Earlier today, MyDD.com carried a story about Ohio Secretary of State Kenneth Blackwell refusing to allow registration if the registration form was not on 80 pound card stock. In other words, none of those "print directly from the FEC site" forms would be good enough. DailyKos now has the latest on this (I am shortening it considerably):

    Atrios dug this up:

    Sec. 1971. - Voting rights

    (2) No person acting under color of law shall -

    (B) deny the right of any individual to vote in any election because of an error or omission on any record or paper relating to any application, registration, or other act requisite to voting, if such error or omission is not material in determining whether such individual is qualified under State law to vote in such election.

    So what the hell are they thinking about in Ohio, supressing thousands of new voter registrations because they are printed in the wrong card stock?
    Because the Sec of State is a Republican. And because he read this NY Times piece. ...

    And remember, these new voters aren't being counted in "likely voter" polls (which ACT will work to get to the polls on election day). This is not good news for Republicans, hence the desperation tactics we're seeing in Ohio.

    September 21, 2004

    GOP practices "voter terrrorism"

    Salon.com reports: Amid the general ugliness of the [Philadelphia mayor's] race, though, there's one incident that Democrats in the city remember with a distinct sense of unease. The story, which was first reported by The American Prospect in February, and has since been broadcast by activist groups like MoveOn.org, goes like this: In an attempt to intimidate African-Americans and deter them from showing up at the polls, the Katz campaign, or one of its associates, put together a team of men dressed in official-looking attire -- dark suits, lapel pins bearing insignia of federal or local law-enforcement agencies -- and sent them into areas of the city with large black populations. According to Sherry Swirsky, a local antitrust attorney who is active in Democratic politics and who worked as an election monitor that day, the men carried clipboards and drove around in unmarked black vans.

    "Some of them were just driving around neighborhoods, looking menacing," Swirsky recalls. "But others were going up to voters and giving them misinformation about the kind of I.D. they needed in order to vote. The truth is, you don't need any I.D. to vote. But they were telling them they needed a major credit card, a passport or driver's license. They were telling them it was risky to vote if they had any outstanding child support bills. Imagine the menacing presence of a bunch of big white guys in black cars who look like they're law-enforcement people telling you all these things."

    Swirsky has monitored several elections in Philadelphia and elsewhere and headed the Democrats' presidential recount effort in New Mexico in 2000. But what happened in Philadelphia, she says, is the most sophisticated election intimidation campaign she's ever seen. It was not a sick prank by one or two racists but instead a systematic effort that required planning and not-insignificant outlays of money (the uniforms, the vehicles and the men, some of whom were reportedly recruited from out of state). "There was such a level of coordination there that if its objectives were not improper, I would say I admired it for the professionalism," she says. -- "Voter terrorism" (Salon.com)