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From Poll Taxes to Voter ID Laws: A Short History of Conservative Voter Suppression March 29, 2011

Posted by rogerhollander in Democracy, Socialism.
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(Roger’s note: it is a simple phrase, but it says just about everything: “without economic democracy, political democracy is a sham.”  With a Supreme Court giving carte blanche to corporations to fund campaigns, with billionaire-funded “grass roots” organizations such as the Tea Party disenfranchising  masses of voters as discussed in the article below, with massive powerful lobbies such as Big Pharma and the private health insurance industry virtually writing legislation to protect their selfish interests – who can argue that political democracy in the United States, or anywhere in the world for that matter, is genuine democracy?  Democratic socialism is nothing more or less than economic democracy, and it can only come about through the destruction of the capitalist form of production, a mode of production that inherently exploits and alienates living human labour, a mode that is by its very nature undemocratic and which replicates itself in the world of social and political relations.)

Sunday 27 March 2011

by: Kevin Donohoe  |  Think Progress | Report

Thursday, ThinkProgress reported that the Ohio House had approved the most restrictive voter id law in the nation — a bill that would exclude 890,000 Ohioans from voting. Earlier this week Texas lawmakers passed a similar bill, and voter id legislation — which would make it significantly more difficult for seniors, students and minorities to vote — is now under consideration in more than 22 states across the country

Conservatives have said voter id laws are necessary to combat mass voter fraud. Yet according to the Brennan Center for Justice, Americans are more likely to be killed by a bolt of lightning than commit voter fraud. And the Bush administration’s five-year national “war on voter fraud” resulted in only 86 convictions of illegal voting out of more than 196 million votes cast. Instead conservatives are employing an old tactic: using the specter of false voting to restrict the voting rights of minorities and the poor.

Below, ThinkProgress examines the history of conservatives anti-voter agenda:

Jim Crow South: In the Jim Crow South, historian Leon Litwack writes, “respectable” Southern whites justified their support for measures to disenfranchise African-Americans “as a way to reform and purify the electoral process, to root out fraud and bribery.” In North Carolina for example, conservatives insisted that literacy tests and poll taxes — which disenfranchised tens of thousands of African-Americans — were necessary to prevent “voter fraud.”

1981 RNC Voter Caging Scandal: According to Project Vote, in 1981 the Republican National Committee mailed non-forwardable postcards to majority Hispanic and African-American districts in New Jersey in an effort to accuse those voters of false voting. The 45,000 returned cards were rncthen used to create a list of voters whose residency the GOP could challenge at the polls. The Democratic National Committee sued, winning a consent decree in which the RNC agreed not to engage in practices “where the purpose or significant effect of such activities is to deter qualified voters from voting.” Similar initiatives were undertaken by the Arizona GOP in 1958, the RNC in 1962 and again, despite the decree, in Louisiana in 1986.

Recent Voter Caging Efforts: During the 2004 election GOP state parties, along with dozens of unidentified groups, launched similar “voter caging” efforts designed to challenge the eligibility of thousands of minority voters by accusing them of voter fraud. And in 2008, the Obama campaign sued the Michigan Republican Committee for collecting a list of foreclosures in an effort to challenge the residency, and eligibility, of voters who had lost their home in the housing crisis.

US Attorney David Iglesias Firing Scandal: In an unprecedented politicization of the Justice Department, in 2006 the Bush White House fired US Attorney David Iglesias for refusing to prosecute voting fraud cases where little evidence existed. The New Mexico political establishment asked for Iglesias’ dismissal after he refused to cooperate with the party’s efforts to make voter id laws “the single greatest wedge issue ever.”

US Attorney Tom Heffelfinger Dismissal: In Minnesota, US Attorney Tom Heffelfinger lost his position when he ran afoul of GOP activists for “expressing deep concern about the effect of a state directive that could have the effect of discouraging Indians in Minnesota from casting ballots.”

Wisconsin, The Kochs and the 2010 Election: Last fall ThinkProgress reported that a coalition of Wisconsin Tea Party and Koch-funded groups, in an effort to stop “voter fraud” and prevent “stolen elections,” was planning a sophisticated voter caging effort that would use GOP lawyers and Tea Party volunteers to challenge the eligibility of voters at polls in the state. Earlier that year, the same groups were instrumental in defeating a voter protection law that would have criminalized any attempt to use force or coercion to “compel any person to refrain from voting.” One prominent Tea Party member behind the voter caging effort that “since the voter law did not get passed this year… we can still do this.”

As statehouses across the country move forward on voter identification bills, ThinkProgress will continue to track conservatives latest efforts to advance their century-old anti-voter agenda.

Republican Lawmaker to Asian-Americans: I’m Not Gonna Learn Chinese, So Can’t You Change Your Funny Names? April 9, 2009

Posted by rogerhollander in Electoral Fraud, Race, Racism.
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betty-brown

Posted by Tana Ganeva, AlterNet at 12:44 PM on April 9, 2009.

During a hearing on voter ID legislation, Texas Republican Betty Brown said Americans of Asian descent should “simplify” their names
On Tuesday, the Texas legislature heard arguments on voter ID legislation that would require photo ID — or two non-photo IDs — at the polls. An obvious necessity, of course, since everyone in the U.S. loves voting so much that there are scores of people clamoring to do it illegally. (In fact, there is no evidence of voter ID fraud in Texas).

 

 

Democratic lawmakers and several voting experts brought up the good — and oft-repeated — points that a) voter ID laws are a fake solution to a non-existent problem, and b) they disenfranchise poor, minority voters. (You know, the ones that tend to NOT vote Republican.)

 

 

Republicans, in turn, kept pushing the möbius strip argument that while there is a) no evidence of voter fraud b)voter fraud is a serious problem that needs to be addressed. 

 

 

Then, Rep. Betty Brown from Terrell, Texas turned the Republican position from absurd and subtly racist to really absurd and overtly racist. Following a presentation on the voting difficulties faced by Americans of Asian descent, whose legal names don’t always match their everyday names, Brown said the following:

 

 

 

 

Rather than everyone here having to learn Chinese — I understand it’s a rather difficult language — do you think that it would behoove you and your citizens to adopt a name that we could deal with more readily here?

 

 

Can’t you see that this is something that would make it a lot easier for you and the people who are poll workers if you could adopt a name just for identification purposes that’s easier for Americans to deal with?

 

 

 

 

Yep. That’s what she said. You know what’s fun? Thinking of Brown’s statement as one of those “What’s Wrong With This Picture” puzzles. I have this so far: 1) “learn Chinese” — actually, at issue are Americans of Asian — not just Chinese — descent 2) “you and your citizens” — in fact, the people under discussion are American citizens 3) The assumption that descendants of immigrants should accommodate the ignorance of some Americans by changing their names!

 

 

Asked to issue an apology by Democrats excited that Republicans are doing their work for them, Brown responded by … saying something else that was racially insensitive. A spokesperson for the Rep. grumbled that Democrats are making too big a deal of the issue and the Rep. was merely trying to resolve an ID problem. “They want this to just be about race,” the flack said, according to the Houston Chronicle.

What if Obama Had Lost? Did He Have a Concession Speech Ready? November 5, 2008

Posted by rogerhollander in About Barack Obama, U.S. Election 2008.
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Either Obama was going to win, or there were going to be riots.  Here is one of the articles describing the kinds of preparations police were making in serveral US urban centers.

article imagePolice Nationwide Bracing for Possible Civil Unrest on Election Night

http://www.digitaljournal.com/article/261500

African Americans and other minorities voted overwhelmingly for Obama.  The Black vote was probably over 90%.  White America did not elect Barack Obama, they would have preferred McCain/Palin.  We should not forget that.  It is a scary statistic.

If McCain had won, it was common wisdom that this would have to had been a result of massive electoral fraud.  The presidency was stolen in 2000 and 2004.  There was no reason — perhaps apart from Obama’s large lead in the polls (although even there there were discrepancies) — to believe it couldn’t happen again.

Imagine a McCain victory and riots in New York, Chicago, Philadelphia, Los Angeles, Newark, Detroit, etc.  There can be no doubt (or can there?) that Obama would be on the air urging the rioters (insurgents?) to cease and desist.  But what could he promise them other than eight more years of White racist neo-Fascist rule?

Thankfully, as we celebrate this historic moment, we do not have to live that imagined nightmare.

As Election Nears, Dirty Tricks Grow More Common October 28, 2008

Posted by rogerhollander in U.S. Election 2008.
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Sam Stein, Huffington Post, October 28, 2008

As the election nears, examples of political dirty tricks are emerging with greater frequency.

On Tuesday, the Virginia Pilot reported that a phony Board of Elections flier was circulating the state “advising Republicans to vote on Nov. 4 and Democrats on Nov. 5.” Voting, of course, is on the 4th only, creating fear among neutral observers and the Obama campaign that people were simply going to miss the opportunity to go to the polls.

Earlier this month, meanwhile, an anonymous flier was circulating in predominantly African-American neighborhoods in Philadelphia telling voters they could be arrested at the polls if they show up to vote with outstanding arrest warrants or unpaid parking tickets. This is also untrue.

Dirty tricks and phony fliers represent the dark underside of nearly every election. And certainly, when it comes to the current contest, these tactics started long ago. Last March, as Time Magazine noted, a letter was being sent around Colorado, warning that out-of-state students could not register if their parents claimed them as dependents in another state.” One of the more common falsities making its way through email chains has warned voters in some states (updated below) that they will be turned away from the polls if they wore paraphernalia demonstrating their support for one particular candidate.

Since these antics are becoming more and more common we encourage readers to send in tips or episodes they have witnessed to the Huffington Post.

UPDATE: Several readers have pointed out that, in fact, several states do prohibit passive electioneering (buttons, t-shirts, etc.) in polling places. In Texas, for example, the law is as follows:

[A] person may not wear a badge, insignia, emblem, or other similar communicative device relating to a candidate, measure, or political party appearing on the ballot, or to the conduct of the election, in the polling place or within 100 feet of any outside door through which a voter may enter the building in which the polling place is located.

ACORN Has Long Been in Republicans’ Cross Hairs October 24, 2008

Posted by rogerhollander in Barack Obama, Electoral Fraud, John McCain, U.S. Election 2008.
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Peter Overby, NPR

Morning Edition, October 15, 2008 · Republicans continued the drumbeat of allegations against ACORN on Tuesday. Sen. John McCain’s presidential campaign, the Republican National Committee and others accuse the grassroots group of widespread voter registration fraud. It’s the latest, and most bitter, battle in a long conflict between conservatives and ACORN.

ACORN, which stands for the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now, makes no secret of its progressive tilt. Its top job isn’t CEO, it’s chief organizer.

“We’re like a community union,” says Bertha Lewis, the interim chief organizer. “Our folks are low and moderate income. And we’ve been doing the fight on bread-and-butter issues for 38 years.”

Those bread-and-butter issues have recently included predatory lending and mortgages. Not long ago, ACORN forced Countrywide Financial into an agreement to help homeowners trapped in their subprime loans. In 1996, it led a campaign in Philadelphia to stop Pennsylvania from selling liquor stores to raise money for sports arenas.

“We have huge needs around education, around housing, around jobs programs, around social services,” Bruce Dorpalen of ACORN Housing said at the time. “And to devote that kind of money to sports stadiums is just wrong.”

At a 2006 rally in Miami, ACORN featured a friend who now seems surprising: McCain. As a senator, he was pushing an immigration reform bill supported by ACORN and other progressive groups. ACORN members waved “McCain ’08” signs at the rally as McCain said, “What makes America special is what’s in this room tonight. That’s what makes America special.”

Now, McCain’s campaign has accused ACORN of flooding America’s polling places with illegal voters. The campaign and the RNC also have played up Democratic Sen. Barack Obama’s ties to ACORN.

Obama responded Tuesday, calling his relationship to the group “pretty straightforward.”

In 1995, Obama said, he represented ACORN in a lawsuit against the state of Illinois. “My partner in that representation was the U.S. Justice Department, in having Illinois implement what was called the motor voter law, to make sure that people could go to DMVs and driver’s license facilities to get registered. It wasn’t being implemented,” he said.

There are other connections that conservatives have highlighted. Obama ran a voter-registration project in Chicago in 1992 under the banner of Project Vote, and years later, the national Project Vote affiliated with ACORN. Earlier this year, his presidential campaign indirectly paid ACORN more than $800,000 for campaign work in the primaries. And ACORN’s political action committee has endorsed Obama.

But conservatives have been after ACORN for years.

“It is an organization that has a very outsized role in the democratic process,” says Tim Miller of the business-backed Employment Policies Institute, which produced a 2006 report titled “Rotten ACORN, America’s Bad Seed.”

Miller points to the ouster of ACORN’s founder earlier this year after the controller, the founder’s brother, had embezzled nearly a million dollars.

“When you think about a truly transparent organization, there would never be any way somebody could embezzle such a large amount,” he says.

The Employment Policies Institute also criticizes ACORN’s organizational structure. ACORN has dozens of subsidiaries. Some get federal funds. Some get money from charities such as the liberal Charles Stewart Mott Foundation and the not-so-liberal Bank of America Charitable Foundation.

Miller says ACORN moves money around among the subsidiaries. He says it “essentially gives them a cloak that prevents people from seeing really how they’re spending money that comes, in some cases, from the taxpayers, in other cases, comes from members of their organization who pay dues.”

But right now, voter fraud is the GOP’s top campaign message. The Republican National Committee produced an online ad called “ACORN Chicago” that reads: “Nationwide voter fraud. Barack Obama. Bad judgment. Blind ambition. Too risky for America.”

Lewis, ACORN’s chief organizer, says the group’s profile has never been so high. “This election, this linking us to Obama in order to try to damage him, that’s a great opportunity,” she says.

Will Evans of the Center for Investigative Reporting contributed to this piece.

Sorry, I Can’t Find Your Name October 24, 2008

Posted by rogerhollander in Barack Obama, Electoral Fraud, John McCain, U.S. Election 2008.
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by: The New York Times | Editorial

 

    Before Mississippi’s March presidential primary, one county election official improperly removed more than 8,000 voters from the eligible-voter rolls, including a Republican Congressional candidate. Fortunately, the secretary of state’s office learned of the purge in time and restored the voters.

    It’s disturbing that a single official (who acted after mailings to voters were returned) could come so close to disenfranchising thousands of voters. But voting rolls, which are maintained by local election officials, are one of the weakest links in American democracy and problems are growing.

    Some of these problems are no doubt the result of honest mistakes, but in far too many cases they appear to be driven by partisanship. While there are almost no examples in recent memory of serious fraud at the polls, Republicans have been pressing for sweeping voter purges in many states. They have also fought to make it harder to enroll new voters. Voting experts say there could be serious problems at the polls on Nov. 4.

    When voters die or move to a new address, or when duplicate registrations are found, a purge is necessary to uphold the integrity of the rolls. New registrations must also be properly screened so only eligible voters get added. The trouble is that these tasks generally occur in secret, with no chance for voters or their advocates to observe or protest when mistakes are made.

    A number of states – including the battleground state of Florida – have adopted no match, no vote rules. Voters can be removed from the rolls if their names do not match a second list, such as a Social Security or driver’s license database. But (like the U.S. mail) lists of this kind are notoriously mistake-filled, and one typo can cause a no match. In Ohio, Republicans recently sued the secretary of state, demanding that she provide local officials with a dubious match list. As many as 200,000 new voters could have been blocked from casting ballots. The Supreme Court rejected the suit, but Republicans are still looking for ways to use the list on Election Day.

    Congress and the states need to develop clear and accurate rules for purges and new-voter verification that ensure that eligible voters remain on the rolls – and make it much harder for partisans to game the system. These rules should be public, and voters who are disqualified should be notified and given ample time before Election Day to reverse the decision.

    For this election, voters need to be prepared to fight for their right to cast a ballot. They should try to confirm before Nov. 4 that they are on the rolls – something that in many states can be done on a secretary of state or board of elections Web site. If their state permits it, they should vote early. Any voter who finds that their name has disappeared from the rolls will then have time to challenge mistakes.

    If voters find on Election Day that their names are not on the rolls, they should contact a voters’ rights group like Election Protection, at 1-866-OUR-VOTE, or a political campaign, which can advocate for them. They should not, except as a last resort, cast a provisional ballot, since it is less likely to be counted.

    There is a desperate need for reform of the way voting rolls are kept. Until then, election officials, voting rights advocates and voters must do everything they can to ensure that all eligible voters are allowed to vote.

Who Gets to Vote? October 17, 2008

Posted by rogerhollander in Barack Obama, Electoral Fraud, John McCain, Sarah Palin, U.S. Election 2008.
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By Amy Goodman

October 16, 2008/truthdig.com

The 2008 presidential election may see the highest participation in U.S. history. Voter-registration organizations and local election boards have been overwhelmed by enthusiastic people eager to vote. But not everyone is happy about this blossoming of democracy.

ACORN, the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now, has become a lightning rod for the right wing. ACORN’s Web site notes that “the electorate does not reflect the citizenry of the United States of America. It skews whiter, older, more educated and more affluent than the citizenry as a whole.” Bertha Lewis, ACORN’s lead organizer, told me: “We organize low- and moderate-income people, usually folks who are minorities—African-Americans, Latinos, Asians and working-class white people. And most of these folks have always been disenfranchised out of the electoral process. … We’ve registered 1.3 million new voters across the country over an 18-month period of time. We had over 13,000 hard-working voter-registration workers. And we may have had a few bad apples, but I don’t know any organization that didn’t.”

Barack Obama himself was questioned about ACORN’s problematic registrations. He said: “Having run a voter-registration drive, I know how problems arise. This is typically a situation where ACORN probably paid people to get registrations, and these folks, not wanting to actually register people, because that’s actually hard work, just went into a phone book or made up names and submitted false registrations to get paid. So there’s been fraud perpetrated on probably ACORN, if they paid these individuals and they actually didn’t do registrations. But this isn’t a situation where there’s actually people who are going to try to vote, because these are phony names.”

ACORN has seen some clearly fraudulent registrations submitted, with names like “Mickey Mouse” turned in. ACORN says it reviews all the registration forms. However, it does not serve as the ultimate arbiter of which registrations are fraudulent. In fact, ACORN cannot legally throw away any voter-registration cards. It flags suspicious cards and submits them to the appropriate state election authority to make the judgment.

Republicans are increasingly alarmed at the shifting demographics of the United States. Minorities tend to vote Democratic, and the United States is slowly becoming a majority minority country—by 2050, whites will no longer represent a majority in the U.S. As right-wing commentator Patrick Buchanan lamented in 2004: “In 1960, when JFK defeated Nixon, America was a nation of 160 million, 90 percent white and 10 percent black, with a few million Hispanics and Asians sprinkled among us. We were one nation, one people. We worshiped the same God, spoke the same English language.” Buchanan’s xenophobia highlights a political reality: Immigration and mobilization of the urban poor are shifting the electorate to the Democrats, especially in key swing states like New Mexico, Colorado, Florida and Ohio.

The federal Help America Vote Act was passed in 2002 in response to the electoral crisis of 2000. But it requires new voters to present identification at the polling place, which critics allege is a modern-day Jim Crow law. Robert F. Kennedy Jr. (the son of the assassinated 1968 presidential candidate) said recently: “I have an ID, and most Americans have an ID. But one out of every 10 Americans don’t have a government-issued ID, because they don’t travel abroad, so they don’t have passports, and they don’t drive a car, so they don’t have driver’s licenses. The number rises to one in five when you’re dealing with the African-American community.” The online Michigan Messenger revealed that Michigan Republicans were planning to use a list of people with foreclosed homes to purge voter rolls. And a federal judge in Detroit has just ordered that 1,500 people be restored to the Michigan voter rolls, based on “voter caging”—purging people if mail to them is returned as undeliverable. The scandal around the firing of U.S. attorneys, which ultimately led to the resignation of U.S. Attorney General Alberto Gonzales, was based largely on the refusal of the Republican prosecutors to pursue unfounded voter-fraud cases.

Citizen groups like Election Protection and Video the Vote are organizing to document and report problems at the polls on Nov. 4. It is more likely that they will see honest people denied the right to vote, purged from the voter rolls, than an attempt by Mickey Mouse to vote Obama.

Denis Moynihan contributed research to this column.
© 2008 Amy Goodman

Amy Goodman is the host of “Democracy Now!” a daily international TV/radio news hour airing on more than 700 stations in North America. She has been awarded the 2008 Right Livelihood Award, dubbed the “Alternative Nobel” prize, and will receive the award in the Swedish Parliament in December.

Justices Rules Against Ohio G.O.P. in Voting Case October 17, 2008

Posted by rogerhollander in Electoral Fraud, John McCain, U.S. Election 2008.
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by: Adam Liptak and Ian Urbina, The New York Times

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Ohio Secretary of State Jennifer Brunner attends a hearing in Columbus. (Photo: Kiichiro Sato/AP)

    Washington – The Supreme Court on Friday overturned a lower court’s order requiring state officials in Ohio to supply information that would have made it easier to challenge prospective voters. The decision was a setback for Ohio Republicans, who had sued to force the Ohio secretary of state, a Democrat, to provide information about database mismatches to county officials.

    The decision has the potential to affect as many as 200,000 of the 660,000 new voters who have been registered in Ohio since Jan. 1, according Social Security Administration and state election officials.

    The Supreme Court, in a brief, unsigned decision, said lower federal courts in Ohio should not have ordered the secretary of state, Jennifer Brunner, to turn over the information. The court acted just before a deadline requiring Ms. Brunner to act set by a federal judge in Columbus.

    A 2002 federal law, the Help America Vote Act, or HAVA, requires states to check voter registration applications against government databases like those for driver’s license records. Names that do not match are flagged. Ohio Republicans sought to require Ms. Brunner to provide information about mismatches to local officials.

    Those officials could use information to require voters to cast provisional ballots rather than regular ones. They could also allow partisan poll workers to challenge people on the lists. Given Democratic success in registering new voters this year, those actions would probably affect that party’s supporters disproportionately.

    The court said it expressed “no opinion on the question whether HAVA is being properly implemented.” But it said that Congress probably had not intended to allow private litigants like political parties to sue to enforce the part of the law concerning databases.

    Ms. Brunner welcomed Friday’s ruling from the Supreme Court.

    “Our nation’s highest court has protected the voting rights of all Ohioans, allowing our bipartisan elections officials to continue preparing for a successful November election,” Ms. Brunner said. “We filed this appeal to protect all Ohio voters from illegal challenges and barriers that unfairly silence the votes of some to the advantage of others.”

    Edward B. Foley, a law professor at Ohio State, said the Supreme Court’s action in letting state authorities handle matters in the face of a late challenge was consistent with a general premise of election law. “Federal court intervention is a last resort, even if it’s not at the last minute,” Professor Foley said.

    A federal judge in Columbus ordered Ms. Brunner to supply the information on Oct. 9, and the United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit, in Cincinnati, affirmed that decision on Tuesday by a vote of 10-to-6.

    The majority decision in the Sixth Circuit acknowledged that the question about whether private parties may sue under the 2002 law was a close one. But Judge Jeffrey S. Sutton said that question could be deferred, as what the Republican party sought was just information.

    No one argues, Judge Sutton wrote, “that a mismatch necessarily requires a voter to be removed from the rolls.” A mismatch may merely prompt further investigation, he said, one that may be satisfied with an explanation as simple as a recent address change.

    Voting experts and state election officials added that many voters were likely to be flagged erroneously because the databases used to check voter registrations were prone to errors. Most non-matches are the result of typographical errors by government officials, computer errors, use of nicknames or middle initials, not voter ineligibility, they said.

    In one audit of match failures in 2004 by New York City election officials, more than 80 percent of the failures were found to have resulted from errors by government officials; most of the remaining failures were because of immaterial discrepancies between the two records.

    Ms. Brunner had also argued that requiring so many voters to cast provisional ballots would raise tensions at the polls and worsen lines and confusion on Election Day in a year when she is expecting unprecedented turnout.

    The state Republican Party rejected those arguments.

    “Secretary Brunner has fought every effort to validate hundreds of thousands of questionable registrations,” said Ohio Republican Party Chairman Robert Bennett. “As far as I’m concerned, Secretary Brunner is actively working to conceal fraudulent activity in this election.”

    The Ohio Republican Party had said it wanted the list so that local election officials could clear up any discrepancies before Election Day and in cases where that was not possible, those voters should vote using a provision ballot. Provisional ballots in Ohio are held for 10 days before being counted while workers check eligibility, and they are often subject to partisan wrangling and legal fights.

    Friday’s decision also means that the Ohio Republican Party will not be able to make public information requests to get the data so that poll workers can raise voter challenges at the polls.

    In 2004, President George W. Bush won Ohio by a margin of about 118,000 votes. During that race, litigation over Republican plans to challenge about 35,000 voters went to Justice John Paul Stevens on the eve of the election. Justice Stevens said it was too close to the election to intervene, but he added that he expected both sides to act in good faith. The Republicans dropped plans for their challenges.

    Polling in the state shows Senator Barack Obama, the Democratic presidential nominee, with a slight lead on his Republican challenger, Senator John McCain.

Steal Back Your Vote October 15, 2008

Posted by rogerhollander in U.S. Election 2008.
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by: Sari Gelzer, t r u t h o u t | Report

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Robert F. Kennedy Jr. and Greg Palast have teamed up to tell voters how to ensure their votes will be counted. (Artwork: http://www.stealbackyourvote.org)

    Greg Palast and Robert F. Kennedy Jr. believe that the 2008 elections have already been stolen. What’s an American to do given these circumstances? They suggest: “Steal it back”.

    Palast, an investigative journalist, and Kennedy, a voting rights attorney, paired up to create a nonpartisan voter guide that illustrates the six ways that American votes will be stolen this election and seven ways to steal them back.

    You may ask who’s stealing your votes. Palast and Kennedy believe that the Help America Vote Act (HAVA), created in 2002, is one of the main reasons votes are systematically being stolen. Secretaries of state attempting to comply with HAVA are purging voters from the registration rolls and blocking new ones from registering. The purging occurs if a voter’s name does not match a government database.

Those who are at most risk for having their vote stolen are new voters, people of color, low-income, elderly and swing state voters, Palast told Truthout.

    In 2006, Palast says that 40 percent of citizens who were purged from the voter rolls in California had Islamic, Vietnamese, Chinese and Hispanic names. These names were at most risk for misspellings.

    The Steal Back Your Vote Guidelines promote the importance of going to the secretary of state Web site for your state to confirm that you are registered ahead of the election.

    The New York Times appeared to confirm Palast and Kennedy’s findings on mass voter purges in its report last week titled “States’ Actions to Block Voters Appear Illegal”. The newspaper found that tens of thousands of eligible voters were being illegally purged ahead of the 2008 elections.

    In the crucial swing states of Indiana, Nevada, North Carolina and Ohio, The New York Times reported that Social Security databases are being used to verify voters, as opposed to more accurate state databases. Federal law requires Social Security databases to be used for verification only as a last resort.

    The swing states of Michigan and Colorado are also violating federal law, according to The New York Times, because they are removing voters from the registration rolls within 90 days of the presidential election.

    When a name has been purged from the voter rolls, election workers will hand out a provisional ballot. However, Palast points to 1.1 million provisional ballots that went uncounted in the 2004 elections as proof that provisional ballots often go uncounted.

    “Once you sign that provisional ballot, the chances are officially one in three that your ballot will be thrown in the garbage can,” said Palast.

    In their guide, Palast and Kennedy write that a provisional ballot will most often render a vote uncounted. They suggest seeking adjudication on the spot, by calling a voter’s rights hotline instead of accepting and signing the provisional ballot.

    “Don’t go postal,” says Palast, urging voters not to mail in their ballot.

    Palast told Truthout: “All you need is the most minor error, like you didn’t use your middle initial in your registration; not enough postage cost a third of a million votes in the US the last time around because most ballots are two stamps, not one. There’s a million ways to not count your vote on a mail-in; don’t do it.”

    The other suggestions in the “Steal Back Your Vote” guide include voting early, getting involved in voter-registration and get-out-the-vote organizations, and pursuing legal action if disenfranchised.

    Palast and Kennedy will be following the 2008 elections as they unfold, including publishing reports in Rolling Stone and BBC news.

GOP Attacks on American Voters Turn Desperate, Ugly and Dangerous October 11, 2008

Posted by rogerhollander in John McCain, U.S. Election 2008.
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by: Bob Fitrakis and Harvey Wasserman, The Free Press

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GOP attacks on voter rights, voter registration drives and open elections are on the rise across the nation. (Photo: Getty Images)

    The GOP assault on American voters has hit full stride as the economy and John McCain tank in synch.

    With just over three weeks until election day, the Republicans have mounted an all-out attack against newly registered voters and the organizations working to sign them up. As many as 75% of these new voters are expected to vote Democratic, but the attacks have also spread to long-established voters as well. Recent calculations show more than a million more newly registered Democrats in Ohio than Republicans.

    The usual drumbeat claiming massive voter fraud has become ceaseless at Fox “News” and other right wing media mouthpieces.

    As expected, the assault centers in Ohio, which once again could decide the presidency, but has manifested throughout the nation:

    1) A Republican sheriff in Greene County, Ohio, has demanded social security and other records from 302 local voters whose ballots he apparently wants to negate. Sheriff Gene Fischer has requested registration cards and address forms for all Greene County residents who voted in a special session established in Ohio allowing new voters to register and vote on the same day. The process was challenged in court by the GOP. The Ohio Supreme Court turned down that challenge, and allowed the same-day voting to proceed. But now Fischer claims telephone calls complaining about the potential for voter fraud have prompted him to go after the information.

    In Franklin County, home of Ohio State University, Columbus State Community College, Capital University, Ohio Dominican University, and Otterbein College, election protection observers are reporting continuing surveillance by Republicans at Veterans Memorial, the site for early voting. The observers have documented Republican operatives taking photographs and writing down license plate numbers of voters. Election activists expect similar criminal charges as in Greene County to be filed in the state’s capital.

    Greene County is home to Wright State, Central State, Wilberforce and Cedarville Universities, along with Antioch College, which was recently put out of business by a right-wing putsch on its board of directors.

    Llyn McCoy, Greene County’s deputy elections director, says names, telephone and Social Security numbers will be blacked out of any records handed over to the Sheriff. According to McCoy, the Sheriff says he has no evidence of voter fraud other than phone calls stating fraud was a possibility. It is widely assumed that the same-day registration/voting option was exercised primarily by students who lean heavily Democratic. In 2004, African-American students from Wright State, Central State and Wilberforce were regularly challenged on their registration credentials and forced to endure waiting in lines to vote for hours. Students at Cedarville, a Christian school, made no such reports. Sheriff Fischer’s targeting of historically black college students, the core of Obama-mania, is intended to send a chilling effect through the ranks of these Democratic voters.

    2) U.S. District Court Judge George C. Smith, a Reagan appointee, has approved a GOP lawsuit demanding that the state give county boards of elections great leeway in attacking new voter registration forms. The decision, framed under the Help America Vote Act, would allow Republican challengers access to data from the Bureau of Motor Vehicles and the Social Security agency to challenge new voters. The Judge noted that Ohio law permits challenges to absentee ballots, thousands of which have been pouring in to elections boards. If allowed to stand, it could give the GOP the right to shred ballots already cast in the Buckeye State, with the precedent possibly being used to further enable a GOP nationwide disenfranchisement campaign. Smith gave Ohio Secretary of State Jennifer Brunner a week to respond. Brunner has stated she will appeal.

    3) Before the ruling, Brunner announced at the close of registration that the number of registered voters in Ohio had jumped by 665,949, from 7,518,189 active voters on January 1, 2008, to 8,184,138 active voters now. About 5.4 million votes were officially counted in Ohio’s 2004 presidential election. Then-Secretary of State J. Kenneth Blackwell certified a Bush victory of less than 119,000 votes. A massive GOP disenfranchisement campaign could easily exceed that margin.

    4) The New York Times has reported that boards of elections in at least nine crucial states, including Ohio, have violated federal law in conducting purges and have been illegally using Social Security data bases as part of those purges. The Times’ Ian Urbina quotes Colorado Secretary of State Mike Coffman as asking the Colorado Attorney-General to review how some 2,500 citizens were removed from the registration lists there. The Times has cited purges in Colorado, Louisiana and Michigan that have apparently been conducted within 90 days of the upcoming November 4 election, violating federal law that allows states to expunge only those who have been convicted of a felony, moved out of state or died.

    5) The Times has also reported that boards of elections in Nevada, North Carolina, Michigan, Indiana and Ohio have illegally used federal Social Security databases to flag and possibly eliminate voters whose registration applications were suspected of irregularities. The Times reported some 37,000 Colorado voters removed in the three weeks after July 21; Secretary Coffman said the number was 14,000.

    6) Michigan elections director Christopher Thomas said his state had removed about 11,000 voters in August, while the Times estimated the real number to be closer to 33,000. Thomas refused to make the purged files public. Michigan Secretary of State Terri Lynn Land is a long-standing Republican partisan whose political activism traces back to the mid-70s when she worked for Gerald Ford’s campaign in high school. Critics charge that she functions in the traditional of Florida’s Katherine Harris and Ohio’s J. Kenneth Blackwell.

    7) North Carolina’s BOE director Gary Bartlett dismissed concerns raised by the Social Security Administration about possible mis-used of SS files to purge registrations there in conjunction with drivers licenses. The SSI contends Social Security numbers can only be accessed when there is no drivers license or other form of state ID available.

    8) A CBS News report has revealed organized caging attempts by the GOP to eliminate registered voters from the rolls in 19 states. The report marks one of the first initiated by a corporate news organization isolating Republican anti-vote campaigning.

    9) An electronic voting machine in New Mexico was found to be operating on faulty software which could have eliminated hundreds of votes. The glitch was apparently corrected, but was of a type that could result in thousands of votes being lost on Election Day 2008, as they were in 2000 and 2004.

    10) The grassroots organizing group ACORN has come under serious attack in Nevada, Missouri, Ohio and elsewhere from Republicans attempting to negate the thousands of generally low-income citizens ACORN has registered to vote. As a matter of law, ACORN is required to report irregular registrations that come through its process. But GOP operatives have equated these with “fraudulent” filings, and a have ramped up a smear and fear campaign aimed at negating thousands of legitimate ACORN registrants throughout the US.

    11) The GOP continues to resist attempts to subpoena Michael Connell, a shady Republican computer operative who programmed the 2000 Bush-Cheney web site. Connell was also hired by former Ohio Secretary of State J. Kenneth Blackwell in 2004 to tabulate the Ohio vote count. Under Connell, Ohio’s vote totals were shunted to a computer bank in the same basement in Chattanooga, Tennessee, that housed the servers of the Republican National Committee. In the early hours of the morning after election day, vote totals mysteriously began shifting from Kerry to Bush, swinging the 2004 election. Connell’s cyber-security industry colleague Stephen Spoonamore, a Republican and former McCain supporter, has said that Connell may be able to shed light on vote count rigging in the 2008 vote count as well. Attorneys in the King-Lincoln-Bronzeville civil rights lawsuit have thus far been unable to secure Connell’s sworn testimony.

    12) CNN has reported that Obama’s surging poll numbers may leave him “in position to steal Virginia from the GOP.” Virginia hasn’t backed a Democratic presidential candidate since Lyndon Johnson in 1964, but CNN’s use of the word “steal” has raised hackles among election protection activists who argue the flow of theft is in the other direction.

    As the moment of truth arrives, McCain-Palin attacks based on race, alleged “terrorist” ties and more are sure to increasingly dominate the GOP campaign. But far more insidious will be an all-out assault on voter registration in the name of “voter fraud,” and on finding new ways to undermine the national vote, most importantly on electronic voting machines of the kind programmed by Michael Connell.

    If those supporting the democratic process are not exceedingly vigilant, the GOP could use these tactics to once again take the White House.

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