Well this couldn’t possibly lead to intimidation and abuse… (NYT reg req)
Yep, the Republicans planning on are going back to 18th century electoral tactics – positioning their people around the polling booths in the key swing state of Ohio and challenging voters about whether or not they are eligible. They don’t like the look of someone (perhaps because they’re black – who could say?), these GOP stooges will hassle them until they either go away, vote for George, or start a fight (at which point they will no doubt be arrested and prevented from voting).
Of course, the Republicans don’t see it like this. “‘The organized left’s efforts to, quote unquote, register voters – I call them ringers – have created these problems,’ said James P. Trakas, a Republican co-chairman in Cuyahoga County.” In other words, the Republicans want as few voters as possible – largely because the Democrats have traditionally benefitted the most from large turnouts, and also because the irritation with Bush has been great enough to mobilise a load of people who previously couldn’t care less about politics and have been life-long non-voters.
“‘Our concern is Republicans will be challenging in large numbers for the purpose of slowing down voting, because challenging takes a long time,’ said David Sullivan, the voter protection coordinator for the national Democratic Party in Ohio. ‘And creating long lines causes our people to leave without voting.'” Let’s face it, if you’re voting after work and want to get home for your dinner, you aren’t likely to stick around for an hour or two to cast your ballott when this should really only take a couple of minutes.
“Ohio election officials said that by state law, the parties’ challengers would have to show “reasonable” justification for doubting the qualifications of a voter before asking a poll worker to question that person. And, the officials said, challenges could be made on four main grounds: whether the voter is a citizen, is at least 18, is a resident of the county and has lived in Ohio for the previous 30 days.” How can all these be proved? Well, I guess everyone’s going to have to turn up to the polling station with their rent agreements, mortgage documents and passports just to be on the safe side…
After the closeness of Florida last time, the Republicans aren’t going to take any chances. In 2000 they managed to get several thousand black voters taken off the electoral register, most of whom would have voted for Gore. This would have swung the state, and the election, to the Democrats. So the GOP has decided to play it a bit harder this time:
“The Republican challenges in Ohio have already begun. Yesterday, party officials submitted a list of about 35,000 registered voters whose mailing addresses, the Republicans said, were questionable. After registering, they said, each of the voters was mailed a notice, and in each case the notice was returned to election officials as undeliverable.
“In Cuyahoga County alone, which includes the heavily Democratic neighborhoods of Cleveland, the Republican Party submitted more than 14,000 names of voters for county election officials to scrutinize for possible irregularities. The party said it had registered more than 1,400 people to challenge voters in that county.”
God, this is going to be close. Close and nasty. Close and nasty and probably decided by the courts again. I’m dreading this…