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October 29, 2004

GOP works to prevent newly registered voters from voting in this election

Today’s Washington Post reports that Republicans are challenging the validity of tens of thousands of voter registrations in Ohio and other key states in the presidential election. In response, a coalition of civil rights and labor groups sued the GOP, contending the Republican efforts were aimed at removing eligible minority voters from the rolls.

Just yesterday:

Ohio’s Secretary of State J. Kenneth Blackwell (R) worked with other election officials who asked the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 6th Circuit in Cincinnati to allow GOP challenges to 35,000 voters from mostly urban and minority areas to proceed before the election. As of late last night, the court had not ruled.
Republicans in Wisconsin attempted to challenge the registrations of 5,600 voters in Milwaukee but were turned down in a unanimous decision by the city's bipartisan election board.

Earlier this month, a similar effort by a former Nevada GOP operative to question 17,000 Democratic voters in Las Vegas was rejected by election officials there.

Republicans have also filed plans in Florida and Colorado to place watchers who can challenge voters in those key states on Election Day.

Preventing minority voters from participating in an election is an old GOP trick. Courts in the past found that Republicans used tactics that were aimed at intimidating minority voters and suppressing their votes.

In 1981, the Republican National Committee sent letters to predominantly black neighborhoods in New Jersey, and when 45,000 letters were returned as undeliverable, the committee compiled a challenge list to remove those voters from the rolls. The RNC sent off-duty law enforcement officials to the polls and hung posters in heavily black neighborhoods warning that violating election laws is a crime.

Undeliverable mail is the basis for this year's challenges in Ohio. Republicans also sent mail to about 130,000 voters in Philadelphia, another heavily black and Democratic stronghold.

In 1986, the RNC tried to have 31,000 voters, most of them black, removed from the rolls in Louisiana when a party mailer was returned. The consent decrees that resulted prohibited the party from engaging in anti-fraud initiatives that target minorities or conduct mail campaigns to "compile voter challenge lists."

Arizona, a Republican stronghold, (Phoenix’s leading newspaper was originally called the “Arizona Republican”) has a proposition on its ballot that would require voters to: proof they are citizens at the time they register to vote and requires proof of identity at the time of voting.

In 1964, William Rehnquist, the Chief Justice of the United States Supreme Court, reportedly sat outside a polling place, brimming with black citizens, in the poorest neighborhood in Phoenix and quizzed voters ad nauseam about where they were from, how long they'd lived there. A passage of the Constitution was read and people who spoke broken English were ordered to interpret it to prove they had the language skills to vote.

Let’s hope that in 2004 the Republican party’s efforts and the Republican candidate are as successful in influencing the outcome of the vote as they were in 1964.

Posted by dog2 on October 29, 2004 at 07:46 AM in Current Affairs | Permalink

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