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Mounting Evidence of Voter Suppression for Election Day 2008

 by Bennett Gordon


Tags: Politics, voter suppression, voter purges, Greg Palast, Robert F. Kennedy, Rolling Stone, CNN, Associated Press, the Nation, New America Media,

Voting BoothsAs election day nears, new stories of voter suppression and improper voter purges continue to come to light. The polls that pundits tend to focus on may not mean much, as huge numbers of voters will likely be unable to vote on November 4.

States have purged some 13 million voters from the voter rolls since 2004, Joe Rothstein reports for U.S. Politics Today. According to Rothstein, 17 percent of registered voters in the vital swing state of Colorado have been dropped from the rolls, and 10 percent of voters have been dropped in Missouri. CNN reports that 50,000 people have had their voter registrations “flagged,” calling the viability of their votes into question, and “4,500 of those people are having their citizenship questioned and the burden is on them to prove eligibility to vote.”

Even if people manage to get on the voter rolls, some states may not be ready for the massive influx of voters on election day. The Virginia NAACP recently sued Virginia Governor Tim Kaine, a Democrat, claiming that the state has failed to prepare for all the voters, the Associated Press reports. The complaint points out that many polling stations were overwhelmed in the February primaries, with some precincts resorting to makeshift ballots that were later thrown out. The NAACP believes November 4th could be even worse, warning that current preparation could “result in a meltdown on Election Day.”

North Carolina residents who don’t have their votes counted likely will be in good company. More than 1.6 million votes weren’t counted in 2004, according to Robert F. Kenney and Greg Palast writing for Rolling Stone, and the tactics used to suppress those votes could get worse this year. Kennedy and Palast outline six ways that people are going to try and steal votes, including obstructing of voter registration drives, illegitimate voter purges, and challenging and rejecting provisional and “spoiled” ballots.

The groundwork for this voter suppression has been laid by GOP operatives over the past few election cycles, Andrew Gumble writes for the Nation. Barack Obama’s commanding lead in the polls won’t make the illegal and undemocratic efforts to steal people’s votes go away, it just makes them more desperate.

The best way to stop the election from being stolen is to make the election into a blowout, Robert Lovato writes for New America Media. That way, manipulated and stolen votes won’t matter as much. If that doesn’t work, Lovato floats the idea of a general strike, protests, office-takeovers, and other non-violent protest demonstrations.

One of the organizations trying to make sure the vote goes as smoothly as possible is the Video the Vote project, an organization profiled by the New York Times that is supplying volunteers with video cameras to document any election misconduct. The Times also points to the Voter Suppression Wiki and the Election Protection Wiki as user-generated efforts to protect people’s votes on election day.

Image by Ceridwen, licensed under Creative Commons.