Tuesday, October 07, 2008

Tuesday political links

It's Tuesday political links time! Quite appropriate, as I just finished watching the debate. Or rather, just finished ignoring the debate while I instant-messaged with my brother.

Today's topic is voter fraud and voter intimidation.

In past elections:

My brother says I'm not allowed to write an article on this topic without mentioning the Florida hanging chad debacle. My brother also recommends the Bobby Kennedy piece in the Rolling Stone about the 2004 election, which details the many disturbing ways in which the GOP might have thrown the election for Bush.

In the 2002 Senate election in NH, the GOP jammed the phones in the Democratic get-out-the-vote office; several people eventually received jail sentences. There were also allegations that the White House may have been directly involved. Wikipedia outlines the whole thing.

In this election:

In Macomb County, Michigan, the GOP planned to use a list of foreclosed homes to block people from voting. Quote from the article: "State election rules allow parties to assign “election challengers” to polls to monitor the election. In addition to observing the poll workers, these volunteers can challenge the eligibility of any voter provided they “have a good reason to believe” that the person is not eligible to vote. One allowable reason is that the person is not a “true resident of the city or township.”"

This would disproportionally affect African-Americans who are overwhelmingly Democratic voters. State-wide, the GOP plans on training people on how to "challenge" voters at the polls. But not to fear, the Obama campaign is on the case - they filed a lawsuit in federal court to prevent this from happening.

Student voters are also being targeting for scare tactics, and are particularly vulnerable because they often study in one state while they consider home to be another state. And guess what? Student voters tend to be overwhelmingly Democratic.

The issue of felon voting rights should be mentioned. In most states, there are various and confusing restrictions on the voting rights of those in prison. Some states deny felons voting rights even after they have served their complete sentences. In 11 states, you can lose your right to vote for life. These laws disproportionally affect African-Americans, and most of these laws were put into practice during Reconstruction with the express intent of preventing black people from voting. The ACLU has more information. Let's also not forget Florida 2000, when about 50,000 alleged felons were purged from the Florida voting rolls, nearly half of whom were African-American voters and the majority of whom were not felons and should have been eligible to vote under Florida law.

So what can you do? Well, first of all, don't forget to register to vote. For some states, the deadline has passed, but in MA the deadline is October 15, so make SURE you are registered to vote. Even if sarcastic celebrities tell you not to.

In conclusion...One (Hu)'Man, One Vote! This is from one of my favorite albums ever, Johnny Clegg's Cruel, Crazy Beautiful World. The musical is political!

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