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The Democratic Strategist

Political Strategy for a Permanent Democratic Majority

Fighting the Contemptible ‘Bullies at the Ballot Box’

The Nation’s Brentin Mock reports on a new study, “Bullies at the Ballot Box” by Common Cause and Demos, which merits the attention of everyone concerned about the abuse of voting rights. As Mock reports,

…Common Cause and Demos released a report called “Bullies at the Ballot Box” that raises awareness about groups determined to challenge voters at the polls, even at risk of intimidating voters…The “Ballot Bullies” report examines laws around challenging voters in ten states, looking at how well or bad voters are protected from pre-Election Day voter registration challenges that can lead to reckless purging, voter caging, voters’ being challenged at the polls on Election Day and obnoxious behavior by poll watchers. According to the report, Florida and Pennsylvania have some of the worst voter protection laws, yet these are pivotal states that hold tremendous sway in the upcoming presidential elections. True the Vote has a substantial presence in Florida and has pressed hard for Governor Rick Scott’s reckless purging program there.

Warning about the bullying tactics targeting people of color of a group called ‘True the Vote,’ and “their voter-stalking Tea Party co-signers across the nation,” Mock quotes from the Report:

As we approach the 2012 elections, every indication is that we will see an unprecedented use of voter challenges. Organizers of True the Vote claim their goal is to train one million poll watchers to challenge and confront other Americans as they go to the polls in November. They say they want to make the experience of voting “like driving and seeing the police following you.” There is a real danger that voters will face overzealous volunteers who take the law into their own hands to target voters they deem suspect. But there is no place for bullies at the ballot box…With comments about the “illegal alien vote” and “the food stamp army,” King Street Patriots and their allies have created a climate of fear that voter fraud is rampant in minority precincts and used that fear to justify their discriminatory targeting of poll-watching efforts–again, without evidence to support the targeting.

Mock adds that “The King Street Patriots is the Houston-based Tea Party group that gave birth to True the Vote and its spawn of poll harassers around the United States.”
it’s good that voter suppression tactics like restrictive identification laws and reducing early voting opportunities have been getting more media coverage than ever. But all signs point toward an unprecedented level of voter intimidation and harassment on election day, as well as an escalation of Republican-inspired “caging” scams. Democrats and progressives need to be prepared to deal with it. Toward that end, we strongly urge everyone who cares about the integrity of American democracy to read the excellent, exhaustive report on “Bullies at the Ballot Box,” by Liz Kennedy, Tova Wang, Anthony Kammer, Stephen Spaulding and Jenny Flanagan.

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