Every two years, like clockwork, Republicans devise massive hysteria over voter fraud that study after study shows doesn’t exist. A 2007 study by the Brennan Center for Justice found that “an American is more likely to get struck by lightning than impersonate another voter at the polls.” This year the Republicans are joined by Tea Party members in crying outrage about upcoming widespread voter fraud – regardless that there is virtually no basis in empirical reality. So, why the brouhaha over something nonexistent? Tea Partiers and Republicans want to suppress your vote – if you are students, African Americans, Asian Americans, Latinos, or Native Americans.
This year they have even offered up a bounty. The Minnesota-based group Election Integrity Watch—a coalition of conservative organizations that includes the Northstar Tea Party Patriots and the Minnesota Majority—aired an ad that essentially puts a $500 bounty on the head of a fraudulent voter. Talk about encouraging harassment at the polls.
Minorities have been targeted nationally. In Illinois, documented on audiotape, Senator Kirk funded the largest “voter integrity program” in “South and West sides of Chicago, Rockford, Metro East, where the other side might be tempted to jigger the numbers somewhat.” He used these tactics to keep away the large African-American populations.
A group aired an ad in Nevada telling Hispanic voters not to vote. The president of Latinos for Reform, Robert Desposada, a conservative political consultant and political analyst for Univision, explained that by not voting, “It’s the only way for Hispanics to stand up and demand some attention.” Huh?
Republicans also fear the student vote. Republicans are working very hard to prevent students from voting in New Hampshire. The legislature is considering a bill that would “take away students’ right to vote in their college town unless they lived there before enrolling and intended to stay.” Republican William O’Brien, the New Hampshire Speaker of the House and a noted critic of student voting, explains that he fears that students are “basically doing what I did when I was a kid and foolish, and voting as a liberal.’’
Wisconsin is employing these tactics and much more. To suppress both minority and student voting, Wisconsin Tea Party and Republic Party were caught on tape agreeing to the following plan:
1. The Republican Party of Wisconsin will use its “Voter Vault” statewide voter file to compile a list of minority and student voters in targeted Wisconsin communities.
2. Americans for Prosperity will use this list to send mail to these voters indicating the voter must call and confirm their registration information, and telling them if they do not call the number provided they could be removed from the voter lists.
3. The Tea Party organizations will recruit and place individuals as official poll workers in selected municipalities in order to be able to make the challenges as official poll workers.
4. On Election Day, these organizations will then “make use” of any postcards that are returned as undeliverable to challenge voters at the polls, utilizing law enforcement, as well as attorneys trained and provided by the Republican Party of Wisconsin, to support their challenges.
A PowerPoint presentation details Michigan State GOP website operations on Election Day to include sending 3,666 challengers to the seventeen counties that poll less than 35 percent Republican.
This is all on top of the fact that when there are ugly campaigns, people stay home. I predict that 2012 will be one of the ugliest campaigns in our nation’s history. I can only conclude that the Republican Party and the Tea Party do not believe in the democratic process, the American people, or Abraham Lincoln’s belief of government of the people, by the people, for the people.
What Can You Do? Get the vote out. Encourage everyone to vote regardless of the barriers and tactics. Volunteer to be an election judge.
If you are challenged, call the Election Protection hotline at 1-866-OUR-VOTE. Many who find their vote challenged also have the right to cast a “provisional ballot.”
The American Way — every eligible American citizen must be able to exercise their right to vote, and have their vote counted.