Look for election fraud and voter suppression to be an overriding theme in this year’s Presidential election, even if it’s underreported in the mainstream media. Nearly six months before the election, we are already seeing local and statewide efforts to purge the voter rolls of Democratic voters.
In an effort to clear the voter rolls of “non-citizens,” Florida’s Governor, Rick Scott is targeting Hispanic, Democratic and independent-minded voters by sending them notices informing that without proof of citizenship, they will not be eligible to vote. According to the Tampa Bay Times, out of the more than 2,600 people that have been sent the notices, White people and Republicans were the least likely to have been targeted. The Times found that:
About 58 percent of those identified as potential noncitizens are Hispanics, Florida’s largest ethnic immigrant population. They make up just 13 percent of the overall 11.3 million active registered voters.
“I’m upset, because if someone is an American citizen, it is his right to vote. How can they be asking for this?” said Juan Artabe, a 41-year-old Democrat from Cuba who said he became a citizen in 2009.
“Very poor job by the elections department,” Artabe said. He said he was contacted last week by the Miami-Dade elections office and sent in a copy of his citizenship papers so he wasn’t struck from the voter rolls.
Think Progress reports that hundreds of the targeted people are in fact, US citizens.
– 1638 people in Miami-Dade County were flagged by the state as “non-citizens” and sent letters informing them that they were ineligible to vote.
– Of that group, 359 people have subsquently provided the county with proof of citizenship.
– Another 26 people were identified as U.S. citizens directly by the county.
– The bulk of the remaining 1200 people have simply not responded yet to a letter sent to them by the Supervisor of Elections.
In addition to targeting non-citizens, Florida is targeting felons, who are predominantly African-American and Democratic in Florida (from the Miami Herald).
As Florida scours its voter rolls in search of non-U.S. citizens, another form of purging continues: stripping convicted felons of the ability to vote, including high numbers of Democrats and African-Americans.
In the first four months of 2012, election supervisors removed nearly 7,000 voters from the rolls following recent felony convictions. The system of regaining voting rights in Florida is so lengthy and strict that many will likely never vote again.
While it is true that it is illegal for felons to vote in Florida, the justice system is often used as a tool for disenfranchising and dehumanizing citizens. In Florida, African-Americans are imprisoned at nearly five times the rate of Caucasians. Nationwide, African-Americans represent 13% of the population, 14% of the drug use but represent 37% of the drug-related arrests. Black people, especially men, are stopped more often for traffic offenses than White men. African-Americans are kept off juries, they are given longer sentences for the same crimes and they are more likely to be put to death for murder charges.
In Florida, the now notorious Stand Your Ground law seems to have a strong racial bias. In the case of Trayvon Martin, Martin, a 17-year-old boy returning from a 7-11, was chased down by an armed neighborhood watchman. It’s likely that a jury will determine that only the shooter, George Zimmerman, had rights under Stand Your Ground and that Martin was in the wrong for attempting to fight back. Zimmerman wasn’t even arrested until public pressure began to mount.
In another case, an African-American woman in Florida was sentenced to 20 years in prison for standing her ground against an abusive husband. The woman, Marissa Alexander, neither killed nor even directly shot her husband. She aimed at the ceiling.
Should Zimmerman, an undisputed killer, be acquitted under Stand Your Ground, he will be allowed to vote, presumably for the rest of his life. Alexander, a woman who killed no one, will never be allowed to vote in Florida.
Look for Florida to be one of many states who are making a significant effort at keeping Democrats, especially minorities, away from the polls in November. Wisconsin, whose Governor, like Scott, is a product of big money corporate backers like the Koch Brothers and ALEC, is experiencing numerous irregularities in its recall election, although they appear to not be as bad as last year’s recalls.
In Tennessee (From The Brad Blog):
Four hundred and eighty-eight voters, all but four lifelong Democrats, and nearly all Black, had their voting history erased by Shelby County (Memphis) election workers, setting them up for purge from the voter list. These selective alterations appear to target the race of US Congressman Steve Cohen (D-TN-09).
Even in “liberal” California, the GOP is playing dirty tricks. In Sacramento County,, the Republican party has hired a con artist to run fraudulent voter registration drives. From the Sacramento Bee:
The owner of Momentum Political Services, Monica Harris, has an extensive criminal history, including a prison sentence for stealing from a family she befriended and buying a van with funds stolen from a youth agency, court records show. Two of her victims called Harris a “professional con artist.”
Harris’ employee, Remy Heng, recently pleaded guilty in U.S. District Court in Sacramento to his role in a multimillion-dollar mortgage fraud scheme in Northern California.
Jill LaVine, Sacramento County’s registrar of voters, has turned over evidence of what she called registration fraud to the California Secretary of State’s Office. She said that at least one-fourth of the 31,000 registration cards submitted by Harris and her circulators since September have been rejected for inaccuracies.
Momentum Political Services was hired by the Republican Party of Sacramento County to conduct voter registration drives. LaVine said her office found numerous examples of people of having their political party affiliation switched to Republican against their wishes.
The controversy over Harris’ operation has renewed debate over “bounty hunting,” the practice of paying for each voter registered to a party. Officials say the payments are responsible for cases of registration fraud that happen every election cycle throughout California.
Republicans often speak of voter fraud, a nearly non-existent phenomenon that is being used as an excuse to purge voters off the rolls. Why don’t Republicans want people voting? It’s simple. Paul Weyrich, founder of the Heritage Foundation and one of the fathers of the current right-wing, famously said, “I don’t want everybody to vote. Elections are not won by a majority of the people. They never have been from the beginning of our country and they are not now. As a matter of fact, our leverage in the elections quite candidly goes up as the voting populace goes down.”