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October 27, 2004

GOP poll watchers to intimidate FL voters

Florida and Ohio are running neck and neck in the vote suppression game. Both states have actively sought to disqualify thousands of new registrations on flimsy grounds. Florida was just given the OK to do so by a judge.

We’ve recently heard of GOP plans to pay “volunteers” $100 each to intimidate voters in Ohio, and now we have confirmation that similar tactics will be employed in Florida.

The GOP cries “fraud,” and holds up what they say are false addresses and funny names from registration lists, but they have already been caught playing illegal games with voter registrations, so I think it’s highly likely that they may have created many faulty registrations themselves. This serves to gum up the process as well as giving them the “proof” that they need to justify their intimidating tactics.

They plan to put “Poll Watchers” in certain precincts (I have no doubt that, coincidentally, most precincts staffed with GOP watchers will be in poor and minority neighborhoods.) to challenge certain voters. Now, the way the system works in Florida, just one or two challenges, even if they are without merit, can shut down the entire precinct, as each poorly trained poll worker must weigh in with an opinion as the whether or not the challenged voter should be allowed to cast a ballot.

Working people will not have time to wait in line forever. They will get discouraged, or just have to get back to work, and they will leave the line. Every lost vote is a small victory for the GOP.

Election Protection Volunteer provides on way that you may be able to help.

The Republican Party said Tuesday that it may equip its Florida poll watchers with lists of voters whose registrations appear fraudulent, then use a little- known section of state law to try blocking them from voting as they arrive at the polls.

Democrats quickly denounced the unprecedented tactic but did not rule out the possibility that they, too, may file eligibility challenges next week.

With both sides amassing armies of lawyers, the prospect of the fight working its way into neighborhood polling stations is frightening county elections supervisors because the arcane procedure is so unwieldy it could shut down entire stations each time it is exercised.

(Florida Republican Party adviser Mindy) Tucker Fletcher would not identify which voters the Republicans believe have fraudulently registered to vote, but in comments this week she specifically complained of felons and voters with false addresses on the voting rolls.

The Republicans have compiled a list of voters that likely provided faulty addresses.

Tucker Fletcher said the party conducted widespread mailings to newly registered voters of all parties and created a database of the name and address on mailings that were returned by the post office. She would not say whether that list would be used in any potential challenges at the polls of voting rights.

The British Broadcasting Corp. reported Tuesday that it had obtained a portion of that database, which lists 1,886 names and addresses of voters in predominantly black and traditionally Democrat areas of Jacksonville.

Tucker Fletcher said the partial list obtained by the BBC ``is not going to be used in any way to challenge voters.''

Uh, would that denial have anything to do with the fact that the Jacksonville list may well be illegal, since it looks to have been compiled using race as a factor?

(back to the article)

Under the state's challenging provision, observers must file an affidavit detailing their cause for suspicion. The voter then is notified and asked to fill out an affidavit of his own.

Browning said, ``At this point, that voter is going to be incredibly, incredibly ticked off.''

Voting in the entire polling place is then suspended as all poll workers present are required to convene to take a vote on whether the voter should be allowed to cast a ballot. Majority rules.

If a majority of poll workers - who have received no more than 20 minutes of training on the procedure - decide the voter should not vote, a provisional ballot is provided to the voter that will be sealed in a secrecy envelope and considered by the county's canvassing board in the days after the election.

Leon County Supervisor of Elections Ion Sancho said he had never encountered a challenge in 16 years. Browning said he had encountered a challenge only once in his 24- year career.

Matt Miller, a spokesman for Sen. John Kerry's presidential campaign, said, ``All the Republicans are able to talk about are, No. 1, scare voters from the polls and, No. 2, raise questions about the election.''

Posted by Norwood at October 27, 2004 12:38 PM