Voter intimidation methods that were dusted off in 2008 have been buffed to a blinding sheen in 2012 by groups connected to the Republican party or by actual elected Republicans.
The FBI is Investigating Florida Voter Intimidation, Emily Deruy, abc news, October 25, 2012.
Florida law enforcement officials have been investigating multiple claims that registrations used false addresses or dead people's names.
As the Times reports, Sproul's companies have collected more than $17.6 million from Republican committees, candidates and the Super PAC "American Crossroads." And the Republican Party paid Sproul about $3 million this year to work in five states before severing ties with him following allegations of voter-registration fraud.
Sproul did not respond to a request for comment.
How GOP Voter Supression Could Win Florida for Romney, Tova Andrea Wang, Salon, October 25, 2012.
Florida Republicans launched their plan to make voting harder in 2011 when they effectively shut down community-based voter registration drives, responsible for registering hundreds of thousands of new voters every year. The Legislature and governor pushed through a law imposing onerous requirements and procedures on organizations seeking to conduct voter registration drives and steep fines for noncompliance. Nefarious outfits such as the League of Women Voters and Rock the Vote were forced to completely shut down their registration activities. At the same time, a teacher who brought registration forms into class for her seniors turning 18 was charged with violating the law.
What made the change in the voter registration law so particularly suspicious is that community groups focus most often on youth and minority and low-income communities, whose opportunities to register are more limited. In 2008, for example, while only 6.3 percent of white Floridians registered to vote through registration drives, 12.1 percent of Latinos and 12.7 percent of African-Americans did.A judge recently put a halt to the new requirements, ruling them “burdensome” and “harsh and impractical,” not to mention unconstitutional. But the damage has been done – mostly to Democratic voters. The number of Democrats in the state who were registered to vote increased by only 11,365 voters from July 1, 2011, to August 1, 2012. In 2004, nearly 159,000 new Democrats were registered in that period. In 2008, the number was nearly 260,000. Remember: 537 votes.
Is True the Vote Intimidating Minority Voters From Going to the Polls? Dan Harris, abc news, November 2, 2012.
True the Vote has said it is mobilizing one million poll watchers to go to voting places across the country. The problem, critics said, is that those watchers are mostly white and many of the polling places they target serve mostly black or minority voters.
Ray said he went to the True the Vote offices and saw push pins on a map that he interpreted as the group's intention to target specific minority areas. This year, he said, his office has already received complaint calls about True the Vote volunteers at early voting locations.
The county attorney's office directed "Nightline" to an early voting location in Houston where there were Caucasian poll watchers in a predominantly African-American neighborhood, where citizens have already begun to complain.
Despite all the controversy the group has kicked up, study after study -- by the U.S. Department of Justice, investigative journalists and a bipartisan commission -- has found voter fraud to be virtually non-existent.
Bullies At the Ballot Box:Protecting the Freedom to Vote Against Wrongful Challenges and Intimidation, Liz Kennedy, Tova Wang, Anthony Kammer, Stephen Spaulding, Jenny Flanagan,September 10, 2012.
Now active in 30 states, True the Vote has made it clear that it intends to ratchet up its activities in 2012.13 The group is coordinating efforts throughout the country to purge the voter rolls, issue citizen challenges to registrations based on its own criteria and recruit poll watchers for Election Day. At its annual 2012 conference, leadership of the group announced that it “anticipates training 1 million poll watchers around the country for this year’s election.”14 In itself the training of poll watchers might not be worrisome, but the inflammatory language used to inspire this group of volunteer activists makes it so.
For instance, True the Vote’s founder, Catherine Engelbrecht, has said “we see again with this administration . . . it’s just stunning the assault on our elections that we’re watching gain steam with every passing day, so we found ourselves to be unwittingly on the front lines of an issue that I think will be the inflection point for this election.”15 A reporter attending True the Vote’s Colorado State Summit described how one speaker told the crowd that “they should enjoy bullying liberals because they were doing God’s work. ‘Your opposition are cartoon characters. They are. They are fun to beat up. They are fun to humiliate,’ he intoned. ‘You are on the side of the angels. And these people are just frauds, charlatans and liars.’”
Eleventh Hour Voter Suppression Could Swing Ohio, Ari Berman, The Nation, November 4, 2012.
“Our secretary of state has created a situation, here in Ohio, where he will invalidate thousands and thousands of people’s votes,” Brian Rothenberg, executive director of ProgessOhio, said during a press conference at the board of elections in Cuyahoga County yesterday in downtown Cleveland. Added State Senator Nina Turner: “‘SoS’ used to stand for ‘secretary of state.’ But under the leadership of Jon Husted, ‘SoS’ stands for ‘secretary of suppression.’ ”
GOP's push to suppress vote threatens the democracy, Ilyse Hogue, CNN, November 4, 2012.
These efforts are pernicious, pervasive and professionalized. In a recent New Yorker article, Jane Mayer profiled Hans von Spakowsky, a legal fellow at the conservative Heritage Foundation who has been hyping the myth of voter impersonation fraud since 1998, despite mountains of evidence refuting his claim. (The Brennan Center for Justice has concluded that many more people are struck by lightning than commit in-person voter fraud.) Rep. John Lewis -- a civil rights hero who bled to get all Americans the right to vote -- describes von Spakowsky as waking up every morning thinking "What can I do today to make it more difficult for people to vote?"
Spakowsky is a close adviser to True the Vote, a Houston-based organization funded by wealthy conservative donors that has led challenges against the registration of minority voters across the country.
Voter Intimidation Fears Renewed As Election Nears, Jack Feeley and Kristofer Rios, abc news, October 19, 2012.
But restrictive laws are not the only hurdle some voters have to get over. Several conservative grassroots organizations like True the Vote, a Tea Party group, used voter fraud concerns as a reason to challenge students' and minorities' voting rights throughout the country. For example, in June, True the Vote volunteers harassed students during Wisconsin's recall election by citing concerns that students were violating a state photo ID bill that was already blocked by two judges.
In recent months True the Vote has also challenged thousands of voting registrations, and held rallies across the country to train and recruit so-called poll watchers.
It is not just imperative that Americans "get out the vote" this year, but it is now necessary to ensure that citizens' legal right to vote is protected from a campaign to disenfranchise even longtime voters with no reason to think their voter registration would be problematic. Seniors, disabled citizens who do not and cannot have a driver's license, and millions of poor working Americans - for whom acquiring the notarized documentation, filling out the legal paperwork, paying fees and taking time away from their jobs to file for government IDs present insurmountable hurdles - all face potential disenfranchisement in the upcoming election.
Republicans continue to argue disingenuously that they are protecting voter rights by placing more and more roadblocks in the way of the poor, the elderly and the disabled because, they claim, they are protecting us all from potential voter fraud. Repeated studies and investigations into voter fraud have proven that it isexceedingly rare, and that the threat that potential voter fraud poses to the electoral process is minimal. Conversely, the potential for harm to the democratic process resulting from voter suppression practices is very high. In third world countries, American observers stand by to ensure that evidence of voter intimidation and suppression can be recorded and publicized. Who is watching out for the same thing in the USA?
This is a democratic Republic and it is the right and the duty of citizens to protect our own rights and freedoms. Knowledge is power, but action is even more powerful. Let's start paying attention, spreading the word, and mobilizing our fellow citizens to hold our government representatives accountable when they overstep the bounds and try to impede our right to vote.
ACLU on voter suppression:
"During the 2011 legislative sessions, states across the country passed measures to make it harder for Americans – particularly African-Americans, the elderly, students and people with disabilities – to exercise their fundamental right to cast a ballot. Over thirty states considered laws that would require voters to present government-issued photo ID in order to vote. Studies suggest that up to 11 percent of American citizens lack such ID, and would be required to navigate the administrative burdens to obtain it or forego the right to vote entirely."
Rolling Stone Ari Berman's excellent article on Florida's purge of voter rolls to suppress Democratic vote:
"Imagine this: a Republican governor in a crucial battleground state instructs his secretary of state to purge the voting rolls of hundreds of thousands of allegedly ineligible voters. The move disenfranchises thousands of legally registered voters, who happen to be overwhelmingly black and Hispanic Democrats. The number of voters prevented from casting a ballot exceeds the margin of victory in the razor-thin election, which ends up determining the next President of the United States.
If this scenario sounds familiar, that’s because it happened in Florida in 2000. And twelve years later, just months before another presidential election, history is repeating itself."
CBS Lucy Madison reports of mass mailings and robo-calls falsely telling voters that they should not or could not vote in the June 5 Wisconsin recall election.
"(CBS News) As voters head to the polls Tuesday to decide the fate of Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, reports out of the state suggest that robocalls are being placed informing voters, falsely, they don't have to vote if they signed the recall petition.
There have also been reports of mailings going out to voters telling them they can't vote unless they did so in 2010, and of people going door-to-door telling voters they don't have to go to the polls if they signed the recall petition, both of which are also untrue."
Raw Story offers a disturbing national roundup of stories from numerous states whose Republican governments are pulling out all the stops to disenfranchise voters. One excerpt (from LAWeekly):
"In a brazen attempt to steal this fall's election, Florida's Republican lawmakers have outlawed voting on Sunday, an African-American tradition. Indeed, across the United States, from Montana to Maine and Texas to Tennessee, 41 states have recently passed or introduced laws to restrict voter registration and early voting, and generally limit suffrage.
It's the greatest show of racially fueled political chicanery since turn-of-the-century laws banned scores of African-Americans from casting ballots. More than 5 million voters — largely nonwhite — could be kept from the polls, according to New York University's Brennan Center for Justice:
'State governments across the country enacted an array of new laws that could make it significantly harder for as many as 5 million eligible Americans to vote. Some states require voters to show government-issued photo identification, often of a type that as many as one in ten voters do not have. Other states have cut back on early voting, a hugely popular innovation used by millions of Americans. Still others made it much more difficult for citizens to register to vote, a prerequisite for voting'. "
Don't be caught off guard by voter suppression tactics. Go online and be sure that your voter registration is secure and that you will not be disenfranchised this November. Here are some handy links to information and resources:
FAQs About Voting, Smart Voter (League of Women Voters).
USA Gov. page on voting information, including a link to voter registration deadlines by state and easy-to-navigate information links to answers for frequently asked questions about voting, registration, voting from overseas, working on elections and trouble-shooting.
USA Gov Resources for voters
Brennan Center of Justice Election 2012, information for voters and resources for assistance with barriers to your right to vote.
It is time to recognise the danger of ideologically-driven "news" and talk radio; people listen to the lies, the fear-mongering and the demonization of "others" and they believe it. The Republican base believes that they are under attack by dark forces from the "other side". Not just an other side with whom they do not agree, but literally an evil, foreign OTHER side bent on destroying "their" beloved America. Throw in a Bible-based "great commission" to bring the whole country to Christianity by any means, and we see that lying and intimidation to serve that "higher purpose" is easy for true believers to do.
Will Americans allow their religious and political ideology to destroy democracy?