US Right-wing Groups Devise to Disenfranchise Black Voters

Published on 9th October 2012

Right-wing Groups Devise and Organize a National Campaign to Disenfranchise US voters and Black Voters in Particular with Democratic Complicity ...Reality Check

“The stakes are enormous... He [Romney] goes into the debates
behind, after a difficult summer, a failed convention, and a series
of self-inflicted wounds in September. The hour is growing short
to make it from behind in the swing states where he needs to win
if he wants to become elected president.”
(Steve Schmidt a Republican Strategist)

While in American political culture as “culture” is more than skilled in a venue of avoidance as electoral realism. For it has never been discussed that the forces of the GOP in a desperate attempt of stopping the reelection of Barack Obama by stopping his very naive base of support among Black people by stopping their votes at the polls in November.

While the question of race and racism will never be addressed by both Obama and Romney as a political necessity, it must be noted that with the US general election less than a month away, white right-wing groups are waging a nationwide campaign to disenfranchise of thousands of working class Black voters.

Amongst the most conspicuous of these groups is the King Street Patriots, a Texas-based Tea Party group whose “True the Vote” project was detailed in a current report published conjointly by the non-partisan advocacy organizations Demos and Common Cause. 

The report, called “Bullies at the Ballot” gives notices that True the Vote is a well-funded campaign which is participating and involved in over 30 states. A True the Vote spokesperson declared earlier this year that they “anticipate training 1 million poll watchers around the country for this year’s election.”

True the Vote has stated that its aims to make voting “like driving and seeing the police following you.” Tactics include challenging the registration status of millions of Black voters, blocking voter lines, “hovering” over voters inside voting booths, and harassing voters and election officials in and around polling places.

This fits with a wave of new photo identification requirement laws entailed to prevent Black citizens from voting. In total, nine states require voters to show state-issued identification before voting and 17 states have some sort of photo ID requirement for voting. At this point, the Department of Justice has filed suit against some states’ requirements, claiming that voter purges must occur at least 90 days before election day in order to comply with the National Voter Registration Act.

In Ohio, a federal district court ruled August 31 that the Republican-controlled state government could not go ahead with plans to limit early voting that were clearly aimed at black churches, which have developed a popular campaign of mobilizing congregations to vote on the Sunday before the election, under the slogan “souls to the polls.” The state government planned to end early voting on the Friday before the Tuesday election, in a crystal clear and obvious attempt to reduce the turnout black people.

The chairman of the Franklin County (Columbus) Republican Party, Doug Preisse, said, “I guess I really actually feel we shouldn’t contort the voting process to accommodate the urban—read African-American—voter-turnout machine.”

The main goal of the True the Vote campaign has a related target. Its white leaders declare their desire to prevent “illegal aliens” and “the food stamp army” from being involved in the democratic process. A speaker at True the Vote’s Colorado State Summit told the audience they “were doing God’s work. Your opposition are [sic] cartoon characters. They are. They are fun to beat up. They are fun to humiliate. You are on the side of the angels. And these people are just frauds, charlatans and liars.”

The National Director for ResistNet, in a Tea Party web site, explained that True the Vote volunteers should conceal their cameras and use them to film Black voters at the polls. “It is illegal to video the polling place,” the web site admits, “but you can video the birds on top of the polling place or the dog sitting in front of it. If your video of birds or dogs happens to include voter vans, well…”

A number of studies have rebutted claims that voter fraud is far-flung in the US. In Florida, the center of the largest voter purge program in US history, there have been only 10 cases of non-citizen voter fraud, This reported to University of Florida elections expert Mr. Dan Smith. Only 16 cases have been known in Colorado since 2000 and similarly trivial numbers exist across other states.

During the petitioning process for the Wisconsin recall election, True the Vote claimed that over half of the nearly 1 million signatures gathered to recall Republican Governor Scott Walker were fraudulent. An official state audit found that only five of the signatures were false names.

The non-existence of far-flung voter fraud unmasks the true intention and functions of the voter ID laws: to prevent Black voters from voting in the 2012 elections. A recent study by researchers at the University of Chicago and Washington University in St. Louis found that as many as 700,000 young, poor and Black voters may be prevented from voting due to photo ID requirements. The same necessities in Texas could prevent 1.5 million citizens from voting, and in Pennsylvania, an estimated 9 percent of registered voters will not be able to vote in 2012 due to recently passed restrictions. The state Department of Transportation claims that 785,000 voters do not have PennDoT photo IDs. Officials claim that so far, only 6,000 have obtained an ID for the purpose of voting.

Pennsylvania Republican and House Speaker Mike Turzai commented that the state’s voter ID requirement is “gonna allow Governor Romney to win the state of Pennsylvania.” In Tennessee, 230,000 elderly citizens do not have valid photo identification and would be forced to vote provisionally. As many as 40 percent of all provisional ballots are not counted.

A purge of the voter list in Florida using motor vehicle databases in the beginning flagged 180,000 Florida voters as being possibly fraudulent, including, incongruously, Republican Governor Rick Scott. Some 87 percent of the people on the original list were members of racial minorities .i.e. Black people.

There is nothing new about using voter fraud as a pretense to crack down on democratic rights. Four years after the stolen election of 2000, the Republican Party began “caging” voters in working class areas of Ohio, including Cleveland, Toledo, and Akron. Caging is the process through which an organization sends mail to hundreds of thousands or millions of voters and builds a purge list based on which mail is returned-to-sender due to a non-existent or incorrect address.

Under the realm of “State Rights,” the literal necessities for eliminating a voter’s eligibility vary from state to state. While, in some states, return mail is reasoned prima facie evidence to sustain a challenge to a voter’s eligibility, other states, like Ohio, have recently relaxed this requirement, stating that although return mail can be used to purge a voter, it must be substantiated with additional evidence.

Eligibility can be challenged up to election day in Colorado, Florida, Missouri, Nevada, New Hampshire, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Virginia. Furthermore, evasive voter intimidation laws mean that the tactics of True the Vote activists may not be view as illegal.

It must be noted that Obama and the Democratic Party’s reaction to the mass disenfranchisement campaign being carried out by the Republicans and diverse Tea Party groups has been mortifying dumb and muffed, which has been the usual way of Obama. The Obama campaign has filed suit in “battleground” states where the mass suppression of Black voters could swing the election in favor of Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney. The Obama administration has cautiously quashed any further campaign to warn the Black people and community of the voter suppression methods or expose the anti-democratic agenda of the Republican right.

It must be noted that this is because the Democrats are as accountable as the Republicans for getting rid of the democratic rights that so-called guaranteed to the American people, while the republic most time brags about the right to vote, while at the same time working people has no economic rights that needs to affirmed. The Obama administration has not only extended but has also expanded the anti-democratic policies of George W. Bush.

That the Democrats have no problem attempting to exclude third party candidates from the ballot shows that their opposition to voter ID laws is purely for electoral advantage. History is on our side, but, not time.

By Malik Sekou Osei.

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