Wednesday, October 27, 2004

More dirty, desperate tactics from the GOP

After reading a couple of articles today that briefly mentioned the possibility of "poll watchers" being present on Tuesday in battleground states to challenge the legitimacy of voters, I did a little more research and turned up this article from the NY Times and this article from Salon. Here's a quote from John Pappageorge, a Republican state representative in Troy, MI in the Salon article to fire you all up.
Pappageorge declared, "If we do not suppress the Detroit vote, we're going to have a tough time in this election."
In the NY Times article, an interview of a top Republican official in Ohio reveals that the GOP has a program in place to register "poll watchers" (aka voter intimidators) in swing states who are intended to

challenge the qualifications of voters they suspect are not eligible to cast ballots.
Now, what criteria are going to be used by these euphemistically-termed "poll watchers" to weigh whether or not a person is eligible to cast ballots. I have a few ideas what these whining wolf-criers will be watching for, considering where the Republicans are focusing these efforts.

Republicans said they had enlisted 3,600 by the deadline, many in heavily Democratic urban neighborhoods of Cleveland, Dayton and other cities.
To me, the most obvious two signals the poll watchers will be looking for in these areas are a) race and b) estimated level of income. Since minorities and poorer Americans, especially those in urban areas, tend to vote Democratic, this is an obvious strategy for the Republican Party. Its not enough for them to rationalize and sanction racial profiling in aiports by Homeland Security, and by various law enforcement agencies elsewhere, now they need it at the polls. Standing up for the foundational values of the United States, my foot. What happened to "all men are created equal" ?? Oh, thats right, its just inconvenient for your fascist tendencies, like the First Amendment. I'm digressing, but here is a quote from Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy that relates:

The First Amendment is often inconvenient. But that is besides the point. Inconvenience does not absolve the government of its obligation to tolerate speech.
Thats right, eat it, Ashcroft.

Anyhow, back to the poll watching... I have two large concerns about this.
  • People are busy, and this poll watching nonsense could really slow down the process. Especially if it gets really serious and nearly everyone is being questioned at the polls.
  • Threats and intimidation. Technically, anything occurring along these lines is illegal, but where is the line drawn?
With the Right's love affair with firearms, it really will not surprise me at all to hear about some of these poll watchers packing heat. That would definitely intimidate me. Probably not enough to scare me into not voting, but I'm sure it would do just that for others.

However worrisome this may be for some of us, that these challenges are being taken so seriously by the Republicans is a strong sign of how desperate they are. Sure, they have definitely used voter intimidation tactics in the past, but I doubt its been anywhere near this scale. They're scared, folks, and with good reason. We are strong, we have more numbers, and we have momentum. But don't let down, make your efforts of the next 6 days your strongest yet. The more Kerry wins by, the better.

I attended a lecture at my college last week that was given by a political science professor concerning predictions on the outcome of the election. Dr Michael LeRoy stated his prediction that if voter turnout is at 55% or higher, Kerry will win clearly. He gave solid points for this assertion, and I found it extremely interesting. If Republicans rely on the votes of approximately 28% (one-half of 55) of Americans to win this election, what does that say about the values of most American citizens? Well, that not enough vote, but, more importantly, it seems that liberals are a very sizable majority.

On a different note, I want to publicly thank Richard, Kate and SpinDentist for giving me the chance to do some blogging here. I love this site and the community around it; its my favorite political blog, and to be given the opportunity to write here was amazing and I'm incredibly grateful. Richard has "left the door open for me" to return here occasionally to do some more, and if Kate and SpinDentist are down with that, I trust I'll be back as often as I'm welcome! Thank you all for your great comments and discussions concerning the topics on which I posted. You're a great, kind, and fun group. I hope the perspective, views and concerns of a 21 year old liberal Christian have been interesting for most of you. And even with how little this means to most of you (I still have heard it from self-proclaimed agnostic members of the ASZ community), God bless.

(Forrest will still be hanging around; be sure to visit his blog, American Bodhisattva. - ed.)