2012-11-06 23:09:00

Suppression Tactics Backfire on GOP Big Time

In his symphony of a victory speech, President Barack Obama bounded out of the gate putting his opponents on notice that he hadn’t missed all the tricks they tried to keep his voters from casting their votes.
 
“I want to thank every American who participated in this election,”  Obama said, “whether you voted for the very first time, or waited in line for a very long time — by the way, we have to fix that.”
 
For all of the efforts that Republicans put into suppressing Democratic votes in the presidential election of 2012, the result may prove to be the greatest turnout of African American voters in recent memory. Exit polls show that the black vote in this election equals the record high turnout of 2008, the difference being that this year even more people had to wait on lines for hours, endured confusion at polling places, were told to produce IDs that the law does not require, and made to cast provisional ballots because of snafus at election sites.


“Funny thing about black folks -- just try to tell us we can’t do something,” said Dr. Ron Daniels, former third-party presidential candidate and executive director of the Rainbow Coalition, on the election-night special hosted by Mark Thompson on SiriusXM radio.

A panel of experts on the show -- that also included NAACP President Ben Jealous, Manhattanville College president emeritus Richard Berman and Brennan Center for Justice Senior Counsel Keesha Gaskins -- on the show concurred that, if anything, the actions of Republican officials and legislators who sought to limit the vote, especially in areas populated by African Americans and Latinos, may have galvanized the resolve of the very people they hoped to keep from the polls.

In Ohio, lines for early voting snaked around buildings as early voting hours were cut, and one law suit about secret software was only decided on election day. (See AlterNet’s Steven Rosenfeld’s report.) This evening, the Columbus Dispatch ran a front-page headline on its Web site: “Many in Columbus, Cleveland told to vote provisionally.”

In Florida, epic shenanigans were played with early voting and voter-roll purges at the instruction of Gov. Rick Scott, but voters seemed unwilling to relent, some of them standing on line for four or five hours. At one early voting site, when poll workers closed the doors, voters staged a protest.

Yet, because of the sustained and vociferous actions of Republicans in trying to tamp down voter turnout through ID laws and attempts to limit early voting (especially on Sundays, when African-Americans were known to carpool to voting locations after church), voter protection groups were on the ground early, organizing in communities of color, and teaching people how to respond if their right to vote was challenged. On Make It Plain, listeners were given a toll-free number for the Coalition to protect the vote.

It all added up, said Jealous and Gaskins, to a profound determination on the part of people of color not to be deprived of their right to vote -- a right won with the blood of those who went not too long before them. In some parts of the U.S., it’s easy to forget, black people have only had access to the polls for less than 50 years.

Speaking on CurrentTV, former vice president Al Gore compared the current voting crisis fomented by Republican officials to the bad old days of segregation. Gore said, as reported by Mediaite:

“It is a strategy, and it is a strategy that is a direct descendant of the racist Jim Crow tactics that were used in the wake of the Civil War to prevent black people from voting, It’s more sophisticated now, it’s dressed up in different types of language – but it is un-American, it is wrong, it is a disgrace to this country, and there ought to be a bipartisan movement to say enough of this."

Tue, 11/06/2012 - 23:09

Voter Suppression

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