Salon: Voter suppression efforts seen in six states
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Tuesday August 15, 2006
After votes were suppressed in Florida and Ohio during the 2000 and 2004 presidential elections, Salon warns that four additional states could see voters prevented from casting ballots, with the greatest impact felt by Democratic candidates.
The report shows business as usual in Ohio where gubernatorial candidate and current Secretary of State Ken Blackwell has pushed regulations working to hinder voter registration efforts in the state. Similar efforts are afoot in Florida, as well as new authority for partisan pollwatchers to challenge the registration of individual voters.
But it is in four new states where Salon emphasizes new troubles might break out:
In Arizona, legislation that requires proof of citizenship to vote is taking a toll beyond the illegal immigrants it seeks to keep out of polling places.
In Indiana, difficulties in securing state identification have complicated the ability of many to register to vote.
In California, problems have been identified with electronic voting machines, and the consolidation of statewide voter registration lists is being used to bar voters from the rolls.
In Missouri, rigid ID laws for voters are seen to be targeting minority voters likely to vote against Republicans.
An excerpt of the article, which is available to subscribers or after watching Salon advertisting, is presented below.
But Steele's plight has gotten relatively little notice from pundits and progressive activists confidently predicting a sweeping Democratic victory in November. Opinion polls show that a majority of the public wants a Democratic Congress, but whether potential voters -- black and Latino voters in particular -- will be able to make their voices heard on Election Day is not assured. Across the country, they will have to contend with Republican-sponsored schemes to limit voting. In a series of laws passed since the 2004 elections, Republican legislators and officials have come up with measures to suppress the turnout of traditional Democratic voting blocs. This fall the favored GOP techniques are new photo I.D. laws, the criminalizing of voter registration drives, and database purges that have disqualified up to 40 percent of newly registered voters from voting in such jurisdictions as Los Angeles County.
"States that are hostile to voting rights have -- intentionally or unintentionally -- created laws or regulations that prevent people from registering, staying on the rolls, or casting a ballot that counts," observes Michael Slater, the election administration specialist for Project Vote, a leading voter registration and voting rights group. And with roughly a quarter of the country's election districts having adopted new voting equipment in the past two years alone, there's a growing prospect that ill-informed election officials, balky machines and restrictive new voting rules could produce a "perfect storm" of fiascos in states such as Ohio, Florida, Arizona and others that have a legacy of voting rights restrictions or chaotic elections. "People with malicious intent can gum up the works and cause an Election Day meltdown," Steele says.
There is rarely hard proof of the Republicans' real agenda. One of the few public declarations of their intent came in 2004, when then state Rep. John Pappageorge of Michigan, who's now running for a state Senate seat, was quoted by the Detroit Free Press: "If we do not suppress the Detroit [read: black ] vote, we're going to have a tough time in this election cycle."
For the 2006 elections, with the control of the House and the Senate in the balance, Salon has selected six states with the most serious potential for vote suppression and the greatest potential for affecting the outcome of key races. In nearly every case, the voter-suppression techniques have been implemented since 2004 by Republican legislators or officials; only one state has a Democratic secretary of state, and only one has a Democratic-controlled legislature.