Why is this so stupid?
Thanks to Roxanne for sending me this story about the ramping up of voter intimidation tactics. The student Democrats at Drexel University in Philadelphia are reporting that fliers are being strewn around campus telling students that if they have outstanding warrants or tickets and try to vote, they’ll be arrested. They’re attributing the information to an “Obama supporter”, presumably because you’d have to be beneath a fool to believe McCain or McCain supporters. Here’s a picture of the offending document. You can click on to see a larger version:
Usually the “show up to vote and you’ll be arrested” fliers are distributed in lower income and minority-dominated neighborhoods, but it’s obvious why college campuses would be targeted, since Obama’s campaign is such a pull for young people. I’m sort of interested in why these fliers always seem to be almost deliberately illiterate. A sample from this one:
Recently, at school, an Obama supporter approached me during a rock the vote assembly. He informed that (sic) on the day of the election there will be undercover officers to execute warrants on those who come to vote based on the anticipated turnout. He advised me if I had any outstanding warrants or traffic offenses I should clear them up prior to voting. They assume this to be an opportunity for those who normally go by fake names and addresses, to give their real names and id’s. Allowing them to place name and face together and walla (sic), gotcha! Arrested on the spot. So if you have one or the other take care of it.
It gets, if you can believe it, even more incoherent from there. Is incoherence a ploy to make it more believable? I’ve never understood that, if it is. I’d think something that’s neatly typed, spell-checked, and literate would be more believable than incoherent rantings. And it seems that a lot of these fliers that do try to look official in some way, perhaps by having some kind of letterhead or seal on them, still are badly copied or even worse, mimeographed. I understand not wanting to spring for letterhead for this sort of thing, but still. My working theories are the people who pass out fliers are spittle-shooting wingnuts who couldn’t spell or string together a logical thought in their lives, or they’re fairly literate people who assume the intended audience for this sort of thing is stupid.
That said, even incoherent threats about arrest to intimidate voters should be taken seriously. No one wants to go to jail for a traffic ticket, and if you have an outstanding warrant, you might be cautious enough to take even the most unlikely rumors seriously. Especially if you’re in college and having the simultaneous and bewildering pleasure of getting your first traffic tickets and your first voter registration.