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Wednesday, September 22, 2004

Voting Disenfranchisement Appears to be as American as Apple Pie

In his Reuters article Alan Esner writes about the ways US citizens have been deprived of their fundamental right,- the right to participate in elections. He expects the process to continue apace in the upcoming November 2 Presidential Election.

The way the game is played is surprisingly beneficial to the Republicans on the ballot.

The largest category of those legally disenfranchised consists of almost 5 million former felons who have served prison sentences and been deprived of the right to vote under laws that have roots in the post-Civil War 19th century and were aimed at preventing black Americans from voting.

But millions of other votes in the 2000 presidential election were lost due to clerical and administrative errors while civil rights organizations have cataloged numerous tactics aimed at suppressing black voter turnout. Polls consistently find that black Americans overwhelmingly vote for Democrats.

"There are individuals and officials who are actively trying to stop people from voting who they think will vote against their party and that nearly always means stopping black people from voting Democratic," said Mary Frances Berry, head of the U.S. Commission on Human Rights.

This article is an interesting overview of the process, though it is not complete. It does not cover massive electronic fraud that will likely take place in the next election. The preparations for defrauding the nation appear to be underway and going full steam, yet the attendant outrage one would expect from that is almost nowhere to be found in the American society.

Alan Elsner reports some curious tactics used by those seeking to disenfranchise Black voters.

"In elections in Baltimore in 2002 and in Georgia last year, black voters were sent fliers saying anyone who hadn't paid utility bills or had outstanding parking tickets or were behind on their rent would be arrested at polling stations. It happens in every election cycle," she said.

In a mayoral election in Philadelphia last year, people pretending to be plainclothes police officers stood outside some polling stations asking people to identify themselves. There have also been reports of mysterious people videotaping people waiting in line to vote in black neighborhoods.

While videotaping in public places is not illegal, all other tactics listed above are. I would certainly like to know whether or not law enforcement authorities have investigated those allegations, and what those investigations have yielded.

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