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Thursday, December 27, 2007

Karl Rove's legacy: Win by whatever means necessary
Posted by Jill | 6:04 AM
Yesterday one of the topics of discussion on Mark Riley & Richard Bey's show on WWRL in New York was the requirement for photo identification in order to vote. The idea that illegal immigrants are lining up by the tens of thousands to illegally vote may be ridiculous, but the Republicans have also been successful in getting this meme out there where many people have come to believe it's a real problem. Does anyone actually believe that large numbers of people who are in constant danger of being deported are going to show up to participate in something as bureaucratic as voting?

The very REAL problem of "vote rigging" has morphed into the imaginary problem of "voter fraud." But the real problem, the problem that gave us George W. Bush in the White House in the first place, is Republicans deciding that only those likely to vote Republican should be permitted to vote. Greg Palast has been writing about this for years, and Brad Friedman is on the case as well.

The Republicans have become so good at this that they no longer even feel they have to try to cover their tracks. Blue Tide Rising (via Crooks and Liars) reveals that the Chairman of the Kansas Republican Party sent an e-mail last week BOASTING about his vote-suppression efforts:

Earlier today Kris Kobach, chairman of the Kansas GOP, sent out a self-congratulatory litany of accomplishments. Among them was one particularly eye-catching item:

To date, the Kansas GOP has identified and caged more voters in the last 11 months than the previous two years!
We're going to move past the fact that any amount of voter identification would be more than the amount the GOP has done in the last two years, or four for that matter. The practice of caging is what caught out eye.

Caging is a particularly devious and underhanded method of purging likely Democratic voters from the pollbooks. It's also illegal.

How does it work?
The use of direct mail caging techniques to target voters resulted in the application of the name to the political tactic. With one type of caging, a political party sends registered mail to addresses of registered voters. If the mail is returned as undeliverable - because, for example, the voter refuses to sign for it, the voter isn't present for delivery, or the voter is homeless - the party uses that fact to challenge the registration, arguing that because the voter could not be reached at the address, the registration is fraudulent. A political party challenges the validity of a voter's registration; for the voter's ballot to be counted, the voter must prove that their registration is valid.

Voters targeted by caging are often the most vulnerable: soldiers deployed overseas, those who are unfamiliar with their rights under the law, and those who cannot spare the time, effort, and expense of proving that their registration is valid. On the day of the election, when the voter arrives at the poll and requests a ballot, an operative of the party challenges the validity of their registration. Ultimately, caging works by dissuading a voter from casting a ballot, or by ensuring that they cast a provisional ballot, which is less likely to be counted.

Slate.com has the best comprehensive write-up on how the Republican Party employs caging techniques to suppress the votes of the poor, the deployed, and college students. (You know, likely Democratic voters.)

Did we mention it's illegal? And that Kris Kobach is proud to be doing it?

Since Kris Kobach can't expand his own party or force his own Party's members to support his candidates he's shamelessly trying to keep Democrats from voting instead. This is the stratagem of a desperate and shrinking party.

And it isn't that something is the matter with Kansas. As [ ] at C&L points out, Greg Gordon of McClatchy Newspapers wrote in September how Ohio and Florida have passed laws since 2004 designed to help Republicans keep minorities away from the polls next November:

Ohio and Florida, which provided the decisive electoral votes for President Bush's two razor-thin national election triumphs, have enacted laws that election experts say will help Republicans impede Democratic-leaning minorities from voting in 2008.

Backers of the new laws say they're aimed at curbing vote fraud. But the statutes also could facilitate a controversial Republican tactic known as ``vote caging,'' which the GOP attempted in Ohio and Florida in 2004 before public disclosures foiled the efforts, said Joseph Rich, a former Justice Department voting rights chief in the Bush administration who's now with the Lawyers Committee for Civil Rights.

Caging, used in the past to target poor minorities in heavily Democratic precincts, entails sending mass mailings to certain voters and then using the undelivered letters to compile lists of voters for eligibility challenges.

As the high-stakes ground war escalates heading into next year's elections, Republicans have led the charge for an array of revisions to state voting rights laws, especially in key battleground states. Republican political appointees in the Justice Department's Civil Rights Division have endorsed some of these measures.

Over the last three years, the Republican-controlled state legislatures in Indiana, Georgia, Missouri, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin have passed laws requiring every voter to produce a photo identification card — measures that civil rights groups contend were aimed at suppressing minority voting.


In Ohio, which swung the 2004 election to Bush, new Democratic Secretary of State Jennifer Brunner said in a phone interview that an election law passed last year and signed by former Republican Gov. Bob Taft effectively ``institutionalized'' vote caging.

The law requires that the state's 88 county election boards send non-forwardable, pre-election notices to all 7.8 million registered Ohio voters at least 60 days before the election. Undelivered letters are public record, she said, meaning that effectively, ``now the counties are paying for'' the data needed to compile challenge lists.

Especially if it starts looking like Barack Obama is going to be the Democratic nominee, expect Republicans in swing states to feverishly work overtime to enact laws designed to keep African-Americans away from the polls.

Conservatives love to point to doddering old Robert Byrd and his long since renounced KKK past to paint the Democrats as the party of racism. What they don't say is that during the Civil Rights era of the 1960's, the racist Dixiecrats became disgusted with their party's embrace of the civil right's movement -- and became Republicans. The Republican Party always wants to know why black Americans don't vote for their candidates. Perhaps it's because the Republican Party has re-embraced the notion of Jim Crow laws. Never forget that this is the party that returned Trent Lott to a leadership position -- a man who said that this country would have been a better place if the racist Strom Thurmond had been elected president in 1948.

There's no getting around it: The Republican Party is the party of racism and disenfranchisement. If they can't win elections via their platform and policies, they'll steal them. The only question is whether the American people will let them do it a third time.

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Anonymous Anonymous said...
You guys might also be interested in a couple of followup posts about the voter suppression at EverydayCitizen.com -

Voter Caging: Reprehensible, Unethical, Unlawful


KS GOP Brags about Vote Caging