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View Diary: Voter suppression time (324 comments)

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  •  I have to say, (3.90)
    I'm pretty surprised by the number of people who are expressing skepticism over this.  This is a very good example of the same kind of voter intimidation that we have been pointing out elsewhere, and an example of the kind of intimidation directed towards voting blacks for a very long time now.  There's nothing new or surprising about this, you could take the same text and put it in a thousand other flyers passed out over the last few decades, and it'd fit right in.  What did you think voter intimidation looked like, did you think the flyers would be truthful?

    Much like "police roadblocks" set up near voting stations or various other schemes (some official and some not) the goal is to frighten blacks and other minorities into staying away from the polls, by making them think they might be faced with legal consequences -- or at minimum, police harassment -- if they do show up to vote.

    Of course, the entire premise of the flyer, as with the other attacks, is to play on the expectation in some minority neighborhoods that the police will automatically treat them as criminals whenever and wherever they meet them.  Sadly, that fear is indeed widespread in some communities.  That's why these things work.  It's not directed at actual criminals.  It's directed at all the minorities who inherently believe they will be treated as criminals, if they show up to the polls and the police are there to challenge them.

    So kudos that we've come far enough that people don't recognize this for what it is -- a fairly common Jim Crow-style intimidation technique that's been around for decades -- but I'm sorry, this stuff does happen, and it does work.  If you lived in some of these neighborhoods, you might not think this was over-the-top at all.

    The fact that it is happening in 2004 is nauseating, but not at all surprising.

    •  Well, some skepticism is a healthy thing (none)
      Like with WMD's f'rinstance..

      I am not saying it's fake, of course. I am saying that I want to go to the link and see this and I don't. So why not?

      I am just askin' questions.

      Y'know, kinda like that guy Socratese.

      Only less smart...

      President Kerry President Kerry President Kerry

      by wunderwood on Thu Oct 28, 2004 at 06:26:08 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Yep. (none)
        Skepticism is good.  I'd like verification too.

        Just saying, to those who think it's too "over the top" to be real... it's not.  It says pretty typical stuff.

        (And keep in mind, the kind of people who print these things up aren't typically all that bright, in the grand scheme of things.)

    •  Seeking verification (4.00)
      is a matter of prudence - not a question of denying that such tactics exist.  I have to say that I also find it extremely unbelievable.  You'd have to be pretty gullible to swallow such patently absurd statements.  The sheer number and audacity of them would - I should think - get folks to shake their heads and say, "WTF is this bullshit?"  Are people so uninformed as to believe such a poster?  

      I'm Canadian who lived in the States for a couple of years, and I have to say nothing much about US electoral politics surprises me anymore.  I wouldn't be surprised if the GOP were distributing this to suppress votes, and that people actually believed what it said; and I wouldn't be surprised if anti-GOP people were distributing this to make the GOP look bad.  I think we all just need to reserve judgement.

      "The state has no place in the bedrooms of the nation." - Pierre Trudeau

      by fishhead on Thu Oct 28, 2004 at 07:12:04 PM PDT

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    •  Julian Bond (none)
      i read this interview with Julian Bond last night.  he's not surprised.

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      by drh on Thu Oct 28, 2004 at 07:48:03 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  who knows whether he's surprised (none)
        he's saying what it's useful to say -- using this as a way to stoke up black folks to vote.  

        This flyer will help us, not hurt us.  I doubt it's real, but if it makes some voters more mad and determined, so be it.

    •  Abso-frickin'-lutely! (4.00)
      Anyone who doubts that stuff like this can Happen Here is kidding themselves. I've seen the race thing worked the other way, too.  Back in the 60s the Republican machine in Delaware Co. PA hired some poor blacks off the street in Chester and had them drive around affluent Main Line neighborhoods in old jalopies looking at the houses.  The point of course was to scare the white homeowners into thinking that these black folks were about to move in next door and to ensure that said homeowners kept voting Republican.  I am not making this up.  Shit like this happens in America and always has.  Where have some of you been all this time?!
    •  Voter terrorism (4.00)
      Salon had an article last month called "Voter terrorism."

      For decades, Republicans have mounted highly organized operations to discourage minorities from voting. Experts say there's no reason to believe this year's presidential campaign will be any different. [...]

      The voter-intimidation campaign that Republicans mounted in Philadelphia was not an anomaly. Instead, it marked a routine occurrence in American elections, a national scandal that rarely makes the front page. The sad fact is that voter-intimidation efforts aimed at minorities have been carried out in just about every major election over the past 20 years. The campaigns are almost always mounted by Republicans who aim to reduce the turnout of overwhelmingly Democratic minority voters at the polls.

      If you dig into the materials, this flyer is nothing people -- don't be so incredulous.

      The GOP Deploys, 2/1/04

      According to Democratic consultant Tom Lindenfeld, who ran the counter-intimidation program for the campaign of Democrat John Street [last November], the Republicans assembled a fleet of 300 cars driven by men with clipboards bearing insignias or decals resembling those of such federal agencies as Drug Enforcement Agency and Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives. Thus arrayed, says Lindenfeld, these pseudo-cops spent election day cruising Philadelphia's African American neighborhoods and asking prospective voters to show them some identification -- an age-old method of voter intimidation. "What occurred in Philadelphia was much more expansive and expensive than anything I'd seen before, and I'd seen a lot," says Lindenfeld, who ran similar programs for the campaigns of Harvey Gantt in North Carolina and other prominent Democrats. In a post-election poll of 1,000 black voters, 7 percent of them said they had encountered these efforts (this being Philadelphia, there were allegations of violence and intimidation against Street supporters as well). Lindenfeld employed 800 people to confront the GOP's faux-agents at polling places.

      Another one:

      In Dillon County, S.C., in 1998, Son Kinon, a Republican state official, mailed out 3,000 brochures to black voters warning, "You have always been my friend, so don't chance GOING TO JAIL on Election Day! ... SLED [South Carolina Law Enforcement Division] agents, FBI agents, people from the Justice Department and undercover agents will be in Dillon County working this election. People who you think are your friends, and even your neighbors, could be the very ones that turn you in. THIS ELECTION IS NOT WORTH GOING TO JAIL!!!!!!"

      Read the PFAW/NAACP report The Long Shadow of Jim Crow: Voter Intimidation and Suppression in America Today for a looooong list of examples.

      BTW, Democrats weren't innocent by any means.  Bond says:

      Before the Voting Rights Act [of 1965] was passed, this [black-voter suppression] was the exclusive province of Democrats. But the Voting Rights Act made two things happen. First, Democrats who were resistant to equality migrated in large numbers to the Republican Party. And the Democratic Party, which had been hostile to black voters, became welcoming. When LBJ signed the law, he said to an aide, "We're giving the South to the Republican Party for a generation." The parties traded places.

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      by drh on Thu Oct 28, 2004 at 08:31:57 PM PDT

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