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Even beyond voter ID, the rightwing plans on exercising extralegal, but not necessarily illegal, measures to suppress the vote in 2012. A new report released jointly by Demos and Common Cause surveys the state of the laws of ten states: Colorado, Florida, Missouri, Nevada, New Hampshire, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Texas and Virginia.

The report comes after True the Vote, which grew out of a branch of the Texas Tea Party organization, has ramped up its voter intimidation in advance of the presidential election. Their goal? To recruit a million thugs to monitor polls this November. Though they likely won't recruit that many volunteers, True the Vote is well on its way to swaying the election in crucial battleground states. And their funding remains opaque. Earlier this year, the chair of the Texas Democratic Party questioned their grassroots status, arguing that “nobody gets to know what they are doing. They are the one and only political operation in Texas that isn't disclosing its donors."

True the Vote has already involved itself in nearly every voting controversy this year. The Huffington Post investigation is well worth a read in its entirety. A telling anecdote from the Wisconsin recall, where True the Vote challenged the validity of the petition to recall Scott Walker.

True the Vote's audit claimed only half of the signatures were eligible. However, the official audit by the Government Accountability Board said that over 900,000 were eligible, and that only five fictitious names were added.
That’s not all. On top of lobbying for expanding voter ID laws, True the Vote sent poll watchers to largely black precincts around the state, a practice they hope to expand for the general election. True the Vote’s President Bill Ouren famously said that poll watchers will make voting like “driving and having the police follow you.”

To get a sense of just how big this national intimidation has expanded, a fantastic infographic from Colorlines:


So, where do states stand in protecting voters from unlawful intimidation? The report finds that Pennsylvania and Florida, key battleground states, were both ranked unsatisfactory in the way they treated challenges to voter registration and voters' right to vote on election day. That’s particularly notable because Florida, a crucial battleground state, is also the locus of True the Vote’s mobilization.

It's no coincidence that these efforts come to prevent the reelection of the country's first black President. I'd point everyone who hasn't read it yet to Ta-Nahesi Coates' excellent essay, "Fear of a Black President" that exposes the racism at the heart of these voter intimidation efforts.

In a democracy, so the saying goes, the people get the government they deserve. Part of Obama’s genius is a remarkable ability to soothe race consciousness among whites. Any black person who’s worked in the professional world is well acquainted with this trick. But never has it been practiced at such a high level, and never have its limits been so obviously exposed.
Ample studies and anecdotes confirm the obvious: voter intimidation today, much like throughout history, predominantly targets minorities. Poll watchers not only make it more difficult for minorities to vote by challenging their claim to legitimacy, their mere presence evokes our shameful racial history.

Voter intimidation efforts, much like voters ID laws, could have a serious impact come November. The Common Cause and Demos report shows, clearly, that it's time for states to step up and pass laws preventing harassment and intimidation.


Should States Ban Poll Watchers?

57%24 votes
42%18 votes

| 42 votes | Vote | Results

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Comment Preferences

  •  People who show up to suppress voting... (5+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    mookins, ecriddell, weck, a2nite, boofdah

    ..on Election Day put themselves at serious risk, and unsurprisingly so since they're seeking to negate a constitutional right that's the basis of our social contract.  I don't have much interest in contesting these people beyond reminding them that they're proposing to do something very dangerous--to themselves.

    Romney '12: Berlusconi without the sex and alcohol!

    by Rich in PA on Mon Sep 10, 2012 at 01:06:17 PM PDT

    •  This is a prime role for our legal system. (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      weck, blueoasis, boofdah

      Fighting violence with violence is really not a great image for our democracy.

      •  If we get to the point where people are denying... (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        blueoasis, boofdah

        ...the right to vote, it's really too late to worry about the image of our democracy.

        Romney '12: Berlusconi without the sex and alcohol!

        by Rich in PA on Mon Sep 10, 2012 at 02:48:37 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  Unfortunately the ONLY way to end violent (0+ / 0-)

        public behavior in America IS WITH VIOLENCE. Those tender souls who are truly passive in terms of dealing with violent public behavior simply wind up continuing to remain innocent victims of those perpetrators of public violence. Proponents of non-violence often point to the success of Dr. King's Civil Rights Movement. What is ofetn overlooked is the number of people who lost their lives to brutal racist thugs in the south before the American clergy became motivated to join Dr. King's movement. It was the appearance of white clergy, Catholic Nuns, and Jewish Rabbis linked arm in arm with Dr. King on national TV that eventually won the Civil Rights battle in the south. This change in sentiment came too late for earlier Civil Rights martyrs.

        The True the Vote "poll Watchers" are racially motivated to go into African American communities and simply do whatever is necessary to disrupt any voting in progress. These "poll watchers" are hired bullies who expect the majority of poll workers to be elderly people who can be easily frightened and intimidated by younger more physically robust loud mouth bullies.

        Lastly these "poll watchers" would love to create a major disturbance at the polls in every African American community to the end that the local police would have to become involved and mediate the situation. This is because these "poll watchers" are assuming that it is likely that white police will be either present or will show up, and these police officers would be naturally sympathetic to the "poll watcher's" efforts. This would thereby give the white poll watchers even more leeway in their claims of "personally observed" instances of contrived so-called "voting irregularities". The only thing that will change the minds of these hired thugs is the possibility that they are going to pay a serious personal price as they work their mission of intimidation and harrassment.

  •  Poll watchers are not all about suppression (9+ / 0-)
    Ample studies and anecdotes confirm the obvious: voter intimidation today, much like throughout history, predominantly targets minorities. Poll watchers not only make it more difficult for minorities to vote by challenging their claim to legitimacy, their mere presence evokes our shameful racial history.
    Both sides use poll watchers, and it helps keep the system working. It makes sure the polls are open when they're supposed to be, it makes sure all the voting stations are operating, and that the lines keep moving. It gives voters someone to report trouble to. They get updates on who's voted, so callers can remind those who haven't shown up.

    The tea-party substitutes, are the opposite, challenging people who look like they're about to support the wrong candidate, or just plain gumming up a precinct to prevent a neighborhood from voting. So make sure we all understand the difference.

    Why is there a Confederate Flag flying in Afghanistan?

    by chimpy on Mon Sep 10, 2012 at 01:32:41 PM PDT

    •  There are those who are actually working for the (4+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      chimpy, Stwriley, Lujane, blueoasis

      gov and those who aren't. But yeah, it's a legitimate point.

    •  There are also non-partisan poll watchers. (7+ / 0-)

      I regularly volunteer for the Committee of Seventy here in Philadelphia, a non-partisan organization dedicated to open and fair elections. I've helped ensure that a fair number of people had their voting problems resolved and were able to cast their vote. Without poll watchers, we wouldn't be able to do this.

      I also did poll watcher duty for the Obama campaign in 2008, out in West Philly. We actually scared off two suited guys who were trying to question and photograph voters going into the polling place we were assigned. When I started taking shots of them with my phonecam, they suddenly got very shy and took off, never to return.

      I understand your frustration with thugs like True the Vote, but the answer is not eliminating poll watchers; it's getting more of our own people out there to shine the light on these cockroaches and send them skittering back to their holes.

      Strategy without tactics is the slowest route to victory, tactics without strategy is the noise before defeat. Sun Tzu The Art of War

      by Stwriley on Mon Sep 10, 2012 at 02:03:13 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  No one allowed to be a poll watcher in NY (6+ / 0-)

    unless registered with Board of Elections.  Must present certificate (by party).  We poll workers must disallow disruption, can toss anyone making a nuisance of themselves. There are a minimum of four poll workers per site to keep order and assist voters. Rare to see them in our elections, but we have been trained for a November deluge.

    Please donate to Okiciyap food pantry. . If love could have saved you, you would have lived forever.

    by weck on Mon Sep 10, 2012 at 01:41:26 PM PDT

  •  Washington state? (5+ / 0-)

    Washington state is all vote by mail except for handicap machines at a few locations.  Why would it be on the True The Vote map???

    The real unseen problem is with the electronic vote tabulators.  Even with honest voting, dishonest counting will throw the election.

    "It's not the people who vote that count. It's the people who count the votes." (attributed to Josef Stalin)

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