Voter Intimidation and Suppression
A generation ago, the FBI helped put an end to vote suppression tactics like rigged literacy tests, attacks by police dogs, and Ku Klux Klan terrorism. Today, they face new obstacles such as confusing leaflets and phone calls.
MSNBC has the horrible tale:
The Federal Bureau of Investigation is looking into the possibility of voter intimidation in the U.S. Senate race between Sen. George Allen, a Republican, and Democratic challenger James Webb, officials told NBC News. State officials alerted the Justice Department on Tuesday to several complaints of suspicious phone calls to voters who attempted to misdirect or confuse them about election day, Jean Jensen, Secretary of the Virginia State Board of Elections, told NBC’s David Shuster.
Jensen told NBC that she had been contacted by FBI agents. The FBI in Richmond refused to comment.
State Democratic Party counsel Jay Myerson said in a written statement issued by the Webb campaign that he believed Republicans are behind an orchestrated effort to suppress votes for the Democratic challenger.
Republican officials, including the executive director of the Virginia Republican Party, have told NBC that the GOP and Allen campaign are focused on mobilizing voters and have not discouraged anyone from voting.
In the Washington, D.C., area, NBC affiliate News4 reported on its Web site that it had received e-mail from a viewer in Virginia who said he received a phone call from so-called volunteers threatening voters with arrest if they cast ballots. News4 reported: “The viewer’s e-mail stated after he had voted, he received a call from an unknown caller who said they knew the voter was registered out of state and would be arrested if they voted today. The viewer’s e-mail stated he’s been registered to vote in Virginia for the last three years and has the Virginia Voter Registration card to prove it.” The Webb campaign also said other voters are getting calls telling them their polling location has changed.
There are also allegations that fliers that say, “Skip This Election,” are blanketing African-American communities, News4 reported.
So, we have the Democratic campaign forwarding charges to a Democratic election official, who turned the matter over to the FBI for investigation.
If this is in fact happening as described, the ineptitude is simply amazing. Indeed, the whole concept of post-voting vote suppression is a head scratcher.