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Gather round children, your bellies full of Halloween candy, and as this month of October comes to its close I shall tell you a truly horrifying tale — a take of denying the right to vote to those who legitimately have that right.
As with so many of the other scariest things in our society, it happened in Dallas, Texas. But while that may not seem to matter much of itself, the real problem is that it may be recurring, within this next week, in states like Pennsylvania (ooooh!), Florida (aaaaaaagh!) and Ohio (really? Crap. That’s bad.)
These three states, among others, all had voter ID laws that were pretty bluntly (aimed at reducing the Democratic vote based on spurious concerns over possible voter fraud) ready to go for this election — but those laws were squashed by the intervention of courts, often at the behest of the federal government.
That happened in Texas too. More restrictive law. Got suspended for this election. I know that. You know that. But not all the voters know that. And at least some of the poll workers either don’t know that — or may pretend not to. And, as a result, legitimately eligible voters, whom the rule of law says may vote, may be prevented from voting.
For use in our mosh pit, I’m moshing together stories from the Dallas Morning-News, the Huffington Post coverage of that story, and the Daily Kos coverage of the HuffPo story. (If you quote this story elsewhere, I’m sure that you will do the right thing and quote only me.)
The Republican voter suppression brigade lost a lot of battles this year in its effort to impose overly restrictive photo IDs on citizens who want to vote. The U.S. Department of Justice and the courts, both at the state and federal level, overturned laws altogether or put them out of commission for at least this year’s election in Wisconsin, Pennsylvania, Texas, Pennsylvania, South Carolina and Mississippi. But some people just ain’t getting the message.
Amanda Terkel reports:
Dallas Morning News columnist Wayne Slater attempted to vote over the weekend using his utility bill, which is considered an acceptable form of ID. The poll worker, however, demanded that he show her his driver’s license.”We prefer a voter-registration card or a driver’s license,” said Peggy, the poll worker. “There’s a list of identifications starting with registration card, driver’s license, picture ID—we prefer to go in that order.”
Eventually, because Slater was a pushy reporter, Peggy’s supervisor overruled her and he got to cast his ballot.
But there were no outside election observers when he voted. As Slater wrote of the incident:
What if an elderly person or a citizen with English as a second language had done the same thing? Would they have been turned away? Would they have been intimidated and left?
How many Pennsylvanians—confused by the array of ads and billboards STILL stating incorrectly that the commonwealth requires a photo ID even though the courts have ruled that it doesn’t—will decide not even to try to vote because they lack the identification they think they need?
No supervisor, no election observer, no on-the-ball poll worker fully apprised of the current status of the law will be able to help in such cases.
That’s what voter suppression is all about. Whether it’s intimidating billboards in Ohio and Wisconsin, ridiculously restrictive photo-ID requirements, discriminatory purges of voter rolls or limiting early-voting hours in minority-rich and low-income areas, the war on voting is designed to produce an outcome favorable to the right-wingers who have passed these laws over Democratic objections in state after state. The more people who don’t go to the polls, the bigger smiles it puts on the faces of these unAmerican suppressors.
Those questions I highlighted in bold up there? The answers are “yes.” That’s sort of the point.
Things like this may be happening right here in OC, in poorer neighborhoods than those that I suspect house most of our readers. You can do something about it.
Groups are trying to purge lists of voters that they believe are ineligible and are intent on bullying voters at the ballot box . They were present at over 200 poll sites throughout southern California in the June election, and we expect them to be even more widespread in November, targeting young voters and Latino voters.
In preparation, California Common Cause is ramping up our election protection efforts. With our lawyer partners and allies, we will be anchoring the San Diego hotline call center for 1-866-OUR-VOTE.
You’ll need to attend a 90-minute training to volunteer. Times and locations of those trainings are on the signup form:www.commoncause.org/ca/OCIP.
On Election Day, you will serve a 4-5 hour shift – but if you can only spare a couple of hours, we still need you! Remember — your time could make all the difference in our elections this year.
If you’re non-partisan, bi-partisan, anti-partisan, third-partisan, or something else, this is something that you can do on election day. Your vote is one thing. Other people’s votes are one thing you can help to protect.
UPDATE: Did I say that Ohio was OK now? I guess I spoke too soon!
Late last week, a federal district court ordered Ohio to stop disenfranchising voters who are directed to vote at the wrong polling place due to poll worker error. Earlier today, a severely conservative panel of the United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit [one Puppy Bush appointee, two Junior Bush appointees] stayed this order, ruling that Ohio may disenfranchise these voters — even when their error is due to false instructions from a poll worker — because they believed allowing these votes to be counted would “absolve voters of all responsibility for voting in the correct precinct.”
So, we may see another stolen election after all!