Republican voter intimidation tactics

What about supporting democracy in our own country?

From Salon ( –

The report by People for the American Way is here –

Methinks you forgot to state your premise for debate. Here, I’ll suggest a few possible positions for you. Which of these is closest to what you wanted to say:

  1. The Republican party should be banned from running candidates for office due to these scattered incidents of voter intimidation

  2. Elections in which examples of such intimidation have been observed should automatically be awarded to the opposing candidate

  3. Some additional law or laws should be enacted to prevent these sorts of shenanigans (although it seems to me that such a law may be difficult to word in such a way that it would not inhibit the right to political advertising)

  4. These are scattered incidents, and anyway, I bet we could find similar examples of attempted manipulation of voters by local Democratic organizations

  5. Republican (and Democratic) voters who learn of such tactics by their local organizations should make it known that they do not endorse such tactics, by how they wield their vote and also by making it clear to party staff that they expect them to behave ethically.

If none of these fit, feel free to post what you really intended to say. Personally, I think (5) is the most sensible course of those listed above, even if it is the least likely scenario.

How about, “People and/or organizations who indulge in such tactics should be labelled traitors to democracy, tried and sentenced to lengthy jail terms. If no laws provide for such terms, write them. Democracy isn’t something to be fooled around with in this way.”

Of course, getting a Supreme Court whose members are demosntrably traitors to democracy (wrt the 2000 election) may be difficult.

Actually, since it’s the Republican party organization itself, along with Republican officeholders (such as Katherine Harris) that organizes these campaigns, your choice of No. 5 seems awfully Pollyannish.

I don’t think it would be difficult to word such a law. I propose the following provisions –

– it’s a crime for political operatives to engage in “anti-voter fraud” campaigns independent of an official investigation by law enforcement agencies of specific allegations of such fraud
– it’s a crime to distribute information that mischaracterizes voting requirements (such as identification)
– it’s a crime to ask questions of people waiting to vote regarding their right to vote or any other question implying that they are breaking the law, or to engage in activities that would tend to intimidate those who are going to vote
– it’s a crime to take on the guise of law enforcement officials while conducting campaign activities.

Tack on additional penalties if it is shown that such activities were targeting a minority group.

Furthermore, if such activities are shown to have taken place, I would provide for a revote in the relevant precincts.

Just make sure that the laws provide for jail terms of one year or more, not fines. Richard Mellon Scaife and his ilk will undoubtedly be happy to bail any Repub skunk that gets caught stinking up the woodpile of democracy, and pay any fines incurred as well. To make the laws sufficiently frightening and nasty, they gotta have teeth.

Two questions:

  1. Is there any value in attempting to ensure that only citizens may vote?

  2. If yes, what sort of measures might be applied to this task?

Two answers:

  1. Yes
  2. The sort of measures currently undertaken by duly authorized legal authorities on a regular basis. Any party that feels that the only way they can win is to prevent voter turnout doesn’t deserve to exist, let alone win. BTW, I mean that in a bipartisan sense, I don’t give a damn who is doing it.

The registration system is already in place to ensure that only those who are eligible may vote. If there is suspicion of voter fraud, law enforcement officials are empowered to investigate.

What is completely unacceptable is vigilante enforcement of voting laws, just as with any other law. If an individual has reason to suspect voting fraud in a particular case, then he or she may report such suspicions to the authorities. There is no justification for going out on one’s own to intimidate whole neighborhoods or groups of voters or single out voters based on their appearance and intimidate them.

But, please, this concern is disingenuous anyway. You can’t seriously argue that such tactics are reasonably calculated to discourage actual voter fraud. It’s about political intimidation through brown-shirt tactics, pure and simple. And this is one case in which I don’t think it’s hyperbole to use that analogy. We’re talking about the integrity of our democracy here.

Not just that. Is there any value in ensuring that only eligible voters vote?

Right now, people can vote in numerous jurisdictions, without fear of being caught. Felons, in states that remove voting privileges from convicted criminals, often vote anyway.

I’d gladly condemn attempts at voter intimidation, where they occur. But I’d like to see a little outcry against voter fraud, as well.

Which I as much as admitted in my post. What can I say; given the enormous number of existing laws in this country, I prefer to see a fairly high bar for still more of them.

Really, though the point was to draw you out a bit more as to why you posted all this to begin with. So, your point is basically #3, that new laws should be enacted to prevent these sorts of shenanigans. Worded as you have in your second post, I don’t have any particular problem with that.

Do you have any evidence that there is widespread voter fraud occurring that is being ignored by law enforcement authorities? If there’s no outcry, then maybe that’s because there’s no actual problem.

As to the side issue of felons – I believe it should be unconstitutional to permanently take away any citizen’s right to vote.

1- Of course

2- Even handed application of the rules. What is abhorrent is the way that only people in certain demographics are scrutinized. Selective scrutiny of prospective voters is a transparent way to intimidate voters and influence the outcome of the election. The idea isn’t to find the 50 cases of voter fraud in an area of 10,000 voters. It’s to intimidate as many of the other 10,000 as possible from voting.

I’d like to see one instance of similar voter indimidation tactics used in an affluent area. I don’t think you’ll find one, because the affluent white voter won’t put up with it. Neither should anyone else.

Here you go.

Well, that is something to be concerned about.

Interesting, though, that the people subject to Republican “anti-voting fraud” tactics are not likely to be able to maintain residences in New York and Florida.

But maybe it’s not worth the trouble. As our president said, rich people can afford accountants (and lawyers too, maybe), so it’s futile to try to enforce the law against them.

I don’t like the attempt to portray “challengers” as a negative aspect to the voting process. Here in Indiana, we have these challengers - each Republican challenger is required to have a Democratic counterpart (and vice versa) if available. I don’t see how adding an additional element of safeguarding against voter fraud is a bad thing.

Frankly, I see it as nothing but negative. I for one would be very unhappy having to answer anyone’s questions, particularly a pair of political flunkies when I go to vote. It’s fundamentally creepy.

This brings up an interesting puzzle. Let’s say I own a home in NY and one in Fla. I divide my time between the two homes. I pay taxes in both states, I expect to receive the benefit of those taxes in both states.

Should I be given the opportunity to vote in both locales, at least for the local, county and state governments?

How does that work? Are there two challengers stationed at every precinct to question every voter who comes in the door? And how does that effect voter turnout?

In another thread clairobscur mentioned that in France, each political party (there are several) has a representative at each polling station on election day – but I got the impression they’re there to insure an honest vote count, not to check on the bonafides of would-be voters.

Two points I would like to make.

  1. Nowhere in our constitution are the Republican or Democratic party given specific power or roles in our government. We have evolved to a point that most people would probably have a hard time with that concept but it is the case. I don’t like the idea that those 2 dominant parties have any hand in my voting process. They shouldn’t

  2. “We the people” are the bosses. When we vote we are essentially hiring someone to do a job. My act of voting is the act of making my hiring decision. The fact that I am the boss in this transaction is enshrined in the constitution. I don’t accept that these 2 dominant parties feel they have the power to co-opt that right.

I agree that voter intimidation is terrible.

I also think that actively pursuing every possible avenue to keep a candidate off the ballot in the first place is often questionable – why bother intimidating the voter if you simply remove his choice at the ballot?