Voter Intimidation By Republicans

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On December 10th, 2002, a group of voters from a New Orleans housing project noticed something odd.  There was nothing going on at their polling places. No posters.  No volunteers handing out flyers.  No make-shift kiosks; absolutely nothing that would indicate that an election was going on at all.
That is because there was no election, that day.  It had taken place three days earlier. These registered voters – lower-income, mostly African American –  whose participation was so important to the democratic candidate, Mary Landrieu, had been misled by pamphlets, circulated around their housing project.  The pamphlets read: “Vote!!!  Bad Weather?  No problem!!! If the weather is uncomfortable on Election Day remember that you can wait and cast your ballot on Tuesday, December 10th.â€? The source?  Obvious.  The Louisiana Republican Party. It was just the latest in a long line of voter-intimidation and misinformation tactics employed by the Republican Party, nationwide. After the disputes and scandal that followed the Florida Presidential Election of 2000 and the treatment of African American voters in Broward County, you’d think these tactics would have diminished. No such luck. The activities of the Republican Party since 2000 have only served to further illustrate their commitment to keeping African-American voters from the polls.

In that same election year, The Republican Party of New Mexico sent out a mailer warning voters against using the Straight Party Button on the polling machine, falsely indicating that this button would cancel out all individual votes that were cast. An unsigned flier circulated in Maryland, targeting African American voters.  The message: “Before you come to vote, make sure that you pay your parking tickets, motor vehicles tickets, over due rent and most important any warrants.â€? None of these circumstances affect one’s eligibility to vote.  The purpose?  Keeping African Americans at home.
It is obvious why the party of Lincoln now feels it has to use these dirty tricks.  Republicans know they cannot win any election in which African Americans turn out in force.  Rather than appeal to African Americans with their ideas, Republicans try to suppress our political voice and steal a right won with blood: the right to vote. In the upcoming Presidential, Congressional, state and local elections of 2004 there are ways to protect yourself and your rights from those that seek to silence you.

* Pay attention to the sources of your electoral information.  Is there anything questionable about election materials?  Confirm them with local election administrators.

* Do not allow yourself to be intimidated.  The only persons that can prevent you from voting are the proctors within your actual polling place.  Disregard anything else that may dissuade you from showing up at the polls.

* Remember; if you are a registered voter, your vote counts.  If you are committed to a candidate, make your voice heard.  Show up to your polling place on time and fill out your ballot correctly.  There are no legal obstacles to your participation.

Do not let these underhanded tactics keep you from making your voice heard.  On Election Day, get out and support Democratic candidates. 

Marshall, Jr. is Director of African American Media
Democratic National Committee


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