Suppressing the Vote?

Bob Herbert notes that the Florida state police are investigating allegations of voter fraud involving absentee ballots in the Orlando mayoral elections. For Herbert, of course, this is evidence of racial discrimination:

Back in the bad old days, some decades ago, when Southern whites used every imaginable form of chicanery to prevent blacks from voting, blacks often fought back by creating voters leagues, which were organizations that helped to register, educate and encourage black voters. It became a tradition that continues in many places, including Florida, today.

Not surprisingly, many of the elderly black voters who found themselves face to face with state police officers in Orlando are members of the Orlando League of Voters, which has been very successful in mobilizing the city’s black vote.

The president of the Orlando League of Voters is Ezzie Thomas, who is 73 years old. With his demonstrated ability to deliver the black vote in Orlando, Mr. Thomas is a tempting target for supporters of George W. Bush in a state in which the black vote may well spell the difference between victory and defeat.

The vile smell of voter suppression is all over this so-called investigation by the Florida Department of Law Enforcement.

Herbert makes these outrageous charges with absolutely no evidence, other than the fact that voter fraud has been alleged and is being investigated. He makes no argument, let alone provides any proof, that the alleged voter fraud did not take place. The mere fact that some number–he cites two–elderly blacks are being investigated is enough evidence for him, apparently.

He finds it curious that some of the people being investigated are part of a group that “mobilizes” the black vote. But wouldn’t a group the rounds up absentee ballots from non-absentee voters, coincidentally all voting Democrat, be a likely target of such an investigation? It is a time honored tactic of voter fraud to go to nursing homes and illiterate communities and register people and then fill out their absentee ballots for them. Shouldn’t fraudulent voting be suppressed?

FILED UNDER: Campaign 2004
James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College and a nonresident senior fellow at the Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.