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Unsung Heroes of the Block the Vote Campaign

Many people don't know about the Republican party's efforts to block the vote. This is because a lot of the work is done behind the scenes and anonymously. Too often the work is being done by enlightened rabble — regular, everyday, public servants who labor out of spotlight of publicity to ensure that the wrong people don't get a chance to vote. We want to honor these people.

1. The noble strategists crafting campaigns to stop poor African American communities from voting.
Last month John Pappageorge, a Republican state representative in Michigan,told a journalist that the Republicans would do poorly if they failed to “suppress the Detroit vote.” Detroit, of course, is 83% black.

2. The armed, officers of the Florida state police going into the homes of elderly black voters.
Ostensibly investigating "vote fraud", Jeb Bush's policemen are intimidating successful get-out-the-vote activists in the African-American community.

3. The brave anonymous writers spreading disinformation about voting in African American communities.
These unsung heroes often xerox and distribute at their own expense fliers containing false information about where, when and how to vote, voter eligibility, and the false threat of penalties.

In 2002, in Louisiana, fliers were distributed in African American communities stating, “‘Vote!!! Bad Weather? No problem!!! If the weather is uncomfortable on election day [Saturday, December 7th], remember you can wait and cast your ballot on Tuesday, December 10th.” In a separate incident, apparently targeting potential supporters of Democratic Senator Mary Landrieu, the Louisiana Republican Party admitted to paying African American youths $75 to hold signs aloft on street corners in black neighborhoods that appeared to discourage African-Americans from voting.

4. Lawmakers working to require more paperwork to vote in order to discourage voting.
Sen. Pete V. Domenici (R-N.M.) introduced legislation to require all new voters who did not register in person at their local election offices to produce identification at the polls this November. A GOP lawsuit in New Mexico seeks to accomplish through the courts what Domenici would do legislatively. Democrats argue that additional at-the-poll identification requirements disproportionately disenfranchise poor, elderly and minority voters who may not have the type of ID that is needed.
Domenici Introduces Legislation To Require Identification at Polls

5. Homeland Security investigators and lawyers working to prevent new US Hispanic citizens from voting.
In Miami Beach the Department of Homeland Security attempted to ban a nonpartisan voter registration operation from setting up tables on the sidewalk outside a massive naturalization ceremony at that city's convention center. The DHS complained that Mi Familia Vota would be blocking the doors at the swearing-in. The activities of groups such as Mi Familia Vota have been challenged by GOP officeholders, though it's a new wrinkle to have the DHS join the fray. Working in Hispanic neighborhoods across the state, Mi Familia Vota has already registered 58,000 new Florida voters, says Jorge Mursuli, its executive director. Though the operation is strictly nonpartisan, both its sponsors (which include groups such as the liberal People for the American Way) and the Republicans know that new Hispanic voters no longer hail preponderantly from Cuba, and they are likely to give most of their votes to the Democrats. I can't think of a better use of Homeland Security funds, lawyers, and resources.

6. Public officials giving out misleading information to discourage Native Americans from voting.
In South Dakota's last election, Native American voters were sent to the wrong polling places, and given misleading information about the ID they need to vote.

7. Decent, law-enforcement officers and pseudo-law-enforcement officers taking time out of their busy schedules to intimidate poor and minority voters.
In 2003, in Pennsylvania, men with clipboards bearing official-looking insignias were reportedly dispatched to African American neighborhoods. Tom Lindenfeld, who ran a counter-intimidation campaign for Democratic candidate John Street, said there were 300 cars with the decals resembling such federal agencies as the DEA and ATF and that the men were asking prospective voters for identification. In a post-election poll of 1000 African-American voters, seven percent said they had encountered such efforts.

8. Minnesota Secretary of State Mary Kiffmeyer, who knows that some people arenąt good enough to vote.
Ms. Kiffmeyer has instituted a number of measures under the Help America Vote Act (HAVA) which will replace the messy act of voting with the more reliable process of appointment. Pesky immigrants, poor folks, new voters and other pro-democracy fanatics will be required to produce extra-legal documentation to prove their right to vote on election day.

For the past five and a half years under Kiffmeyer, Minnesota's voting system has grown steadily less inclusive. Registration cards and ballots continue to be written only in English, despite Minnesota's influx of nonnative English speakers. There is a stringent system in place to ensure that ineligible felons don't vote, but there is no follow-up system to inform former offenders when their voting rights have been restored.



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