No Race-Neutral Racism: Targeting African-Americans Is as Racist as it Looks
October 30, 2004 2:56 PM   Subscribe

Racially-Based Suppression of the African-American Vote: The Role It May Play in the Upcoming Presidential Election What exactly is racially-based vote suppression? Simply defined, it is the targeting of potential voters, based on their race, in an attempt to suppress the exercise of their right to vote for the candidate of their choice.
posted by y2karl (34 comments total)
Jim Crow "Southern Strategy" is alive and well, all over the place.

Why aren't the good folks in wealthier and whiter areas having voter eligibility challenged? Hmmm... I think I know the answer.

Chief Justice Rehnquist could teach these young whippersnappers a thing or two about how its done.
posted by nofundy at 3:01 PM on October 30, 2004

More than 80 percent of the population of Detroit is black. This is very well understood by John Pappageorge, who is white and a Republican state legislator in Michigan. "If we do not suppress the Detroit vote," said Pappageorge, "we're going to have a tough time in this election."--from Undernews, including contact info for the Election Protection Coalition.
posted by amberglow at 4:03 PM on October 30, 2004

It's precisely because you have areas reserved (I realise it's broad brush, but the concept of ghettoes is still strange to me) for one race not another that makes poll blocking possible. That, and the fact that you gotta queue for 3 hours to vote (I heard on abcnews last night).

Whats with that? The country that invented time & motion can't process votes quicker than that? All you have to do is target a few voting precincts for challenges & intimidation and you can maintain your hegemony for generations.

O, yeah, thats right...

American democracy is a laughing stock. I'm just hoping that I'm not overtaken by hysteria on Wednesday morning.
posted by dash_slot- at 4:04 PM on October 30, 2004

Why more blacks support Bush this year
by Star Parker

According to two polls released over the week just passed, President Bush has picked up significant ground among black voters. A New York Times poll showed black support for the president at 17 percent. A poll of larger scope done by the Joint Center for Political and Economic Studies, an organization specializing in studying black issues, showed 18 percent black support for Bush. Although black support at this level for Bush/ Cheney is still low, it nevertheless represents a doubling of the 8 percent of the black vote that the Republican ticket received in 2000.

In a race that seems to be shaping up as a neck and neck horserace, it can make all the difference for the president to pick up an additional 9 percent of the black vote.

posted by dhoyt at 4:17 PM on October 30, 2004

dash_slot-, there's more of a segregation based on income rather than race. It ends up looking a lot like racial segregation because without the income it's much more difficult for a person to escape their caste and it's only relatively recently that non-whites have had the right to vote and protection against discrimination. I don't know whether the people targetting people based on their skin colour and ancestry are racists or opportunists. Either one is sickening.
posted by substrate at 4:18 PM on October 30, 2004

dhoyt, that's all the more reason why Republicans should stop targeting minority neighborhoods for intimidation, and stop harassment and challenges at minority-neighborhood polling places. Kinda funny that every election it just keeps happening tho, huh? Any party that was actively courting Black votes wouldn't continue to do that shit, you'd think.

And If the Republican Party ever expects to attract Black voters in significant numbers, it must adopt different policies, according to political scientists.
“When you see President Bush arguing against affirmative action with the Supreme Court on Martin Luther King’s birthday, symbolically, that sends a message to African-Americans about their outreach to the Black community,”...
posted by amberglow at 4:46 PM on October 30, 2004

and what kind of game is this? Republicans Fail in Bid to Move 63 Mostly Black Polling Places REPUBLICAN OPERATIVES working to re-elect President Bush submitted last-minute requests in Philadelphia on Friday to relocate 63 polling places.
Bush's Pennsylvania campaign staff filed the requests, using the names of two Republicans running for the U.S. Congress and seven Republican ward leaders.

posted by amberglow at 4:50 PM on October 30, 2004

amber: What do you make of Ritter's response in the article you mentioned.

"Listervelt Ritter, the Republican leader for the 16th ward in North Philadelphia, said he participated in the effort on four requests because he is tired of polling places controlled by Democrats and the fraud that he claims results. Ritter, an African- American, denied any attempt to suppress minority votes."
posted by dhoyt at 4:58 PM on October 30, 2004

What's behind blacks' big bump for Bush?

What accounts for this black surge in support for Mr. Bush?

Mr. Bositis says most of it comes from conservative, churchgoing African-Americans who are over age 50, are opposed to gay marriage and have not experienced a decline in their incomes during the Bush years. On the flip side, Mr. Kerry's strongest support among blacks is from adults 18 to 35 who feel financially worse off than the older generations, according to poll takers.

That marks an unexpected generational switch.

In 2000, Mr. Bositis said, more members of the black under-35 group called themselves Republicans or independents than any other age bracket. This year, more of them call themselves Democrats than any other age bracket, and more of the older voters call themselves Republicans or independents.

Not a long term trend, in other words, and with enough accounts of racially based voter suppression on Voting Day, even older and well off socially conservative blacks--many of whom can remember de jure segregation and people actually getting killed for trying to register black voters in their lifetimes--may well reconsider.

At any rate, the fact of some evangelical blacks being peeled off by Karl Rove is neither a rebuttal to nor refutation of nor excuse for a historically established and morally repugnant pattern of racist voter suppression.
posted by y2karl at 4:58 PM on October 30, 2004

I think Ritter is a good Republican, and wanted to confuse many thousands of voters by moving polling places, knowing those voters don't vote for his party's candidates anyway. I think he didn't care about what would happen to those voters had the polling places been changed, and actually wanted those voters not to be able to vote.

from Palast on Florida's Caging List, and private detectives taping black voters in Jacksonville
posted by amberglow at 5:05 PM on October 30, 2004

more here, from an investigation the NAACP did (who are now being investigated themselves)
posted by amberglow at 5:08 PM on October 30, 2004

Supreme injustice

The conservatives who now rule the Republican Party trace their political and ideological roots back 40 years to the Goldwater campaign, which they recall as a doomed but noble and prophetic crusade. As the radical right's chosen heir seeks his second presidential term, events also remind us of their legacy's most ugly aspect: the Republican Party's continuing determination to intimidate and disenfranchise voters, especially African-Americans and Latinos.

The living symbol of that tradition is William Rehnquist, whose serious illness underlines the judicial stakes of this election. The chief justice of the U.S. Supreme Court once made his mark as a young Republican lawyer in Arizona by challenging black and Hispanic voters. Today that urge to suppress democratic participation is represented by Nathan Sproul, another Arizona Republican whose name has become synonymous this year with schemes to frustrate voter registration.

The tricks allegedly employed by Sproul and his ilk are modern and slick rather than brutal, but the impulse is precisely the same. And in cities and states across the country, the cruder racist techniques are being revived again. In Florida, as Bob Herbert reported in the New York Times last summer, state officials sent armed officers into certain Orlando neighborhoods to scare elderly black registrants. In Kentucky, Nevada, South Carolina, Pennsylvania and Ohio, Republicans have planned to challenge voters en masse in minority neighborhoods. That return to the methods of the bad old days is the Republican response to the upsurge in minority registration -- and the enormous threat that Republican strategists perceive in those new voters. Last week, Republican pollster Tony Fabrizio summarized his findings in a report on the battleground states by noting that "minority turnout is a wildcard in this race and represents a huge upside for Senator Kerry and a considerable challenge for the President's campaign."

So despite all the blood and toil expended to expand American democracy over the past four decades, the right to vote and to be counted is still unfinished business for both sides. Barry Goldwater was soundly defeated, and he changed considerably before he died -- but his campaign's opposition to civil rights and voting rights persists like a chronic disease among those who have claimed his mantle. As Rutgers law professor Sherry Colb explains... "Targeting African American voters is as racist as it looks."

posted by y2karl at 5:12 PM on October 30, 2004

Why more blacks support Bush this year

Even taking into account that this article is really about Christian bigots who happen to be black, I fail to understand why they should be worked up about Kerry's "support" for gay marriage when he's plainly stated that he doesn't support it.
posted by Armitage Shanks at 7:36 PM on October 30, 2004

American democracy is a laughing stock.

Britain's is worse. You have even less of a choice as to who the PM is than we do with our president.
posted by oaf at 8:10 PM on October 30, 2004

Since the Electoral College actually votes the POTUS, does it matter?

Does a states popular vote really influence its EC vote? Somehow, I doubt it. I wish I didn't, but I do.
posted by a3matrix at 8:17 PM on October 30, 2004

it better.
posted by amberglow at 8:35 PM on October 30, 2004

a3matrix: In theory, yes, because the set of electors with the most votes wins (minor exceptions to this rule include Maine, Nebraska, and potentially Colorado, but seeing as how neither Maine nor Nebraska has ever split its electoral votes, it's basically applicable to all the states).
posted by oaf at 8:36 PM on October 30, 2004

y2karl Cliff Notes : "Barry Goldwater was soundly defeated, and he changed considerably before he died -- but his campaign's opposition to civil rights and voting rights persists like a chronic disease among those who have claimed his mantle. As Rutgers law professor Sherry Colb explains... "Targeting African American voters is as racist as it looks."

posted by troutfishing at 9:09 PM on October 30, 2004

Milwaukee Journal: GOP demands IDs of 37,000 in city

Citing a new list of more than 37,000 questionable addresses, the state Republican Party demanded Saturday that Milwaukee city officials require identification from all of those voters Tuesday.

If the city doesn't, the party says it is prepared to have volunteers challenge each individual - including thousands who might be missing an apartment number on their registration - at the polls.

The move, which dramatically escalates the party's claims of bad addresses and potential fraud, was condemned by Democrats as a last-minute effort to suppress turnout in the city by creating long delays at the polls.

City officials, who already were trying to establish safeguards in response to the party's claim of 5,619 bad addresses, were surprised by the 37,180 number, nearly seven times larger.

You don't need a weatherman to know which way this wind is blowing.
posted by y2karl at 11:58 PM on October 30, 2004

dhoyt - Aside from Star Parker, are there any actual black people associated with Urban CURE? The staff, directors and fellows page might lead one to believe that Ms. Parker is a solitary right-wing crank.
posted by swell at 12:15 AM on October 31, 2004

GOP calls 925 felons illegal voters

But the party's announcement may face its own challenges. The GOP found the allegedly illegal voters by using the same flawed list of felons that had been drawn up by the state elections division, but was scrapped after news organizations exposed its inaccuracies...

In 2001, the Republican-controlled Legislature set aside up to $2 million to develop a new central voter database that would pool information from the FDLE, the state clemency office, the Bureau of Vital Statistics and the counties, and allow each county to remove felons, deceased people and duplicate registrations from rolls.

But efforts by the elections division to draw up a list of more than 48,000 felons came under fire when it was first given to counties in May. The Herald discovered more than 2,000 voters whose civil rights had been restored, many of them Democrats, while The Sarasota Herald-Tribune discovered that Hispanics, who often vote Republican, had largely been left off the list.

GOP Challenging Voter Registrations - Civil Rights Groups Accuse Republicans Of Trying to Disenfranchise Minorities

After initially saying he would not contest a Wednesday ruling halting the challenges, Secretary of State J. Kenneth Blackwell (R) worked with other election officials who asked the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 6th Circuit in Cincinnati to allow GOP challenges to 35,000 voters from mostly urban and minority areas to proceed before the election. As of late last night, the court had not ruled.

Also yesterday, Republicans in Wisconsin attempted to challenge the registrations of 5,600 voters in Milwaukee but were turned down in a unanimous decision by the city's bipartisan election board.

The Republican challenges in Ohio, Wisconsin and other battleground states prompted civil rights and labor unions to sue in U.S. District Court in Newark, saying the GOP is violating a consent decree, issued in the 1980s by Judge Dickinson R. Debevoise and still in effect, that prevents the Republicans from starting "ballot security" programs to prevent voter fraud that target minorities.

Judith A. Browne, acting co-director of the Advancement Project, which filed the lawsuit along with the Leadership Conference on Civil Rights, said the Republican "challenges were, and currently are, used to disenfranchise minority voters."...

The move in Milwaukee, a heavily minority and Democratic stronghold, is part of a national effort by Republicans in many battleground states to challenge voter registrations...

Courts in the past found that Republicans used tactics that were aimed at intimidating minority voters and suppressing their votes. The consent decrees in New Jersey stemmed from several incidents in the 1980s.

In 1981, the Republican National Committee sent letters to predominantly black neighborhoods in New Jersey, and when 45,000 letters were returned as undeliverable, the committee compiled a challenge list to remove those voters from the rolls. The RNC sent off-duty law enforcement officials to the polls and hung posters in heavily black neighborhoods warning that violating election laws is a crime.

In 1986, the RNC tried to have 31,000 voters, most of them black, removed from the rolls in Louisiana when a party mailer was returned. The consent decrees that resulted prohibited the party from engaging in anti-fraud initiatives that target minorities or conduct mail campaigns to "compile voter challenge lists."

Undeliverable mail is the basis for this year's challenges in Ohio. Republicans also sent mail to about 130,000 voters in Philadelphia, another heavily black and Democratic stronghold.

And here there is a picture of a flyer circulated in Milwaukee, containing such gems as these:

If you’ve already voted in any election this year you can’t vote in the presidential election.

If you’ve ever been guilty of anything, even a traffic violation, you can’t vote in the presidential election.

If anybody in your family has ever been found guiulty (sic) of anything you can’t vote in the presidential election.

If you violate any of these laws, you can get ten years in prison and your children will get taken away from you.

It gives a whole new meaning to the phrase By Any Means Necessary.
posted by y2karl at 12:25 AM on October 31, 2004

Solitary on not, right wing is definitely Star Parker:

Economic reality is an inside-out phenomenon and not outside in. Economic success reflects values, persistence, and hard work. The only thing government can do is remove obstacles it itself has created - taxes and regulations - that cause barriers to individual wealth creation. The unique barrier to wealth creation that government has caused in the black community is perpetuation of the very illusion that the problem is political and not personal.

Education, another issue of concern in the black community, is also inside out and not outside in. Study after study shows that the single greatest predictor for success in school is life at home. Again, family and values are the answers here. The government-created obstacle to individual achievement in education is the vice grip in which it is held by the public school monopoly. The problem here is both the inability of parents to choose where to send their kids to school and the politicized curricula of public schools that are sanitized of the very values that kids vitally need.

Blacks are beginning to get it and George Bush, the inside-out candidate, is picking up ground. The more time African Americans, and all Americans, spend looking in the mirror rather than at political ads, the faster we will pick up ground. This country is free. The answer to freedom is inside.

Note this, too, from Clarence Page's What's behind blacks' big bump for Bush? :

An Ohio statewide poll by the University of Cincinnati, for example, shows that in a swing state where voters are quite evenly divided overall, only 3 percent of African-Americans support Mr. Bush and 95 percent support Mr. Kerry. Ohio's heavy decline in manufacturing jobs in recent years appears to have given Mr. Kerry a big boost among black voters there.

Ohio--Now there's a state oft mentioned in this thread...
posted by y2karl at 1:01 AM on October 31, 2004

Star Parker, 6/28/02
After Sept. 11, some evangelical ministers suggested the moral state of our country might have helped provoke the attacks -- and they were condemned for saying so. But their basic point -- that a moral accounting should be part of our national assessment of what went wrong and what needs fixing -- is correct. That so many Americans don't see this as relevant is an indication of the problem.
The claim that "I own myself," that I am the ultimate arbiter of life and death, defines the common ground of the suicide bomber and the abortionist.
Definitely not a mainstream belief.
posted by swell at 2:20 AM on October 31, 2004

Voting is the most direct way for you to affect your government -- don't let anyone deprive you of this precious right! Read through the list below and be aware of your rights before you go to the polls, and use the information below if you encounter any harassment or intimidation.

  • You are entitled to vote without being harassed or intimidated by anyone.

  • Bring personal identification with you to the polls (driver's license, government ID, bank statement or utility bill).

  • If you forget your ID, you can still vote. (In some states, all you need to do is sign an affidavit. In others, you can vote by provisional ballot.)

  • If records show you have moved, you can vote by signing an address confirmation.

  • If you are in line at the polling place before the polls close, you can vote.

  • You have the right to receive a demonstration of voting equipment before voting.

  • If you are disabled or are over the age of 65, you have the right to an accessible polling place and help in voting.

  • If anyone challenges your right to vote:

  • Talk to the Voting Rights attorney at your polling place.

  • Ask for the name of the person who is denying you the right to vote and write it down.

  • Ask to talk to a supervisor and lodge a complaint.

  • posted by four panels at 6:01 AM on October 31, 2004

    Ohio update: Ohio Court Limits 'Challengers' at Polling Stations

    A state court judge issued a sweeping order Saturday limiting the number of party representatives that could be deployed to challenge voters at Ohio polling places on election day. In Cleveland, Cuyahoga County Common Pleas Judge John P. O'Donnell issued a permanent injunction barring multiple challengers from being stationed at polling places. The ruling, if upheld, would force the Republicans to cut back the thousands of poll watchers they plan to send to voting locations Tuesday...

    In his ruling Saturday night, O'Donnell said Blackwell had "acted arbitrarily, unreasonably and unconscionably and has shown a clear disregard"' for the Ohio statutes governing the use of challengers at polling places. He ordered Blackwell to inform county officials of the ruling by 8 tonight. He said failure to comply with the order could subject the affected officials to fines or jail time.

    A challenger can contest a person's right to vote if the prospective voter is not: a citizen; at least 18 years old; voting in the county where he or she lives, or a resident of the state for at least 30 consecutive days before the vote. If a challenge is lodged at the polling place, then poll workers — two Democrats and two Republicans, with one designated "judge" of the polling place — ask the voter a series of questions to determine whether he or she is entitled to vote.

    The Democratic Party has consistently said that its challengers would take on the role in name only and that they would not try to bar anyone from voting. They said they would focus instead on ensuring that no one was illegitimately deprived of the right to vote. "We'll be watching the watchers," said Timothy M. Burke, co-chairman of the Hamilton County Democratic Party in Cincinnati.

    posted by y2karl at 8:01 AM on October 31, 2004

    Challenge rules vary by state. In general, challengers must supply evidence that the voter may not be eligible. Grounds can include that a voter is not a U.S. citizen, is not a resident of the state or county where he or she is registered, or is younger than 18. The complaints are settled by election board members or precinct judges.
    How would a private individual know whether I'm a citizen or not? How do the lists of names help since I don't see what right this person standing at a poll would have to ask the names of people voting anyway. This sounds ugly.
    posted by Wood at 10:20 AM on October 31, 2004

    At least it will all be on TV
    posted by fullerine at 10:47 AM on October 31, 2004

    Actually it may not be. Some polling places don't allow cameras inside, I believe. It'll all be "he said/she said" with the poll workers having to testify.

    And this was interesting, from the other side: Another concern is voter intimidation at ballot drop-off sites the evening of the Nov. 2 deadline. A Republican manual instructs GOP volunteers to take video cameras. --from CSM
    posted by amberglow at 11:38 AM on October 31, 2004

    dhoyt: Those poll numbers were taken in early September, immediately after the Republican convention, and I have my issues with their use as representative of black folks' opinions. (My guess? I'll be generous and say maybe Bush has 12 percent of black folks now, up from last time's 9 or 10 percent.)
    posted by allaboutgeorge at 2:01 PM on October 31, 2004

    Meanwhile, Palm Beach is burning to kick out Bush
    posted by troutfishing at 10:03 PM on October 31, 2004

    NAACP, election officials caution voters of bogus letter

    Columbia, S.C. - Charleston County election officials cautioned South Carolinians on Friday to steer clear of a fake letter that threatens the arrest of voters who have outstanding parking tickets or have failed to pay child support. "I'm outraged," said Jill Miller, director of the Charleston County Board of Election and Voter Registration. "This is so bogus."

    The one-page letter poses as a message from the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People.The Rev. Joe Darby, vice president of the state NAACP chapter, said he received the letter at his home in Charleston. It had Columbia postmark with no return address. He said the letter was an attempt to scare minorities from voting Tuesday because the author of the message assumes black people are in trouble with the law.

    posted by y2karl at 11:09 PM on October 31, 2004

    Group Together

    First, the problems with the Joint Center poll. It was conducted over an unusually long period, between September 15 and October 10. While polls typically aim to depict a snapshot in time, this one picked a slow shutter speed to try to capture a moving target. Respondents surveyed in mid-October would have had access to different information than those surveyed in mid-September and may well have shifted their opinions in response. The result: a blurry image. The Joint Center findings are further clouded, as Century Foundation fellow Ruy Teixeira notes on his blog, Donkey Rising, by the odd wording of the survey question that produced the 69-18 split. The poll asked: "Suppose the 2004 Presidential election were being held today. Among the three major nominees, George W. Bush, John Kerry, and Ralph Nader, who would you like to see win?" This wording departs from the standard trial heat question. It doesn't give partisan affiliation cues to help respondents who haven't been following the race. And it doesn't ask respondents whom they would vote for, only whom they would "like to see win." Teixeira suggests that inattentive respondents may have believed the question was asking which candidate they thought would win--and, in the run-up to the first debate, when the survey was taken, it looked like Bush was slightly ahead.

    Concerns about methodology aside, the survey's author cautions that the findings should not be interpreted as predictive of behavior at the polls. The survey was intended to gauge opinions of the African American community at large and thus doesn't separate registered or likely voters from the unlikely voters in its sample population. In 2000, the survey's findings came within 1 percent of the actual support for Bush on Election Day. But for Gore, the survey was off by a full 16 points.

    As for the polls that do try to approximate what likely and registered voters are thinking, the evidence overwhelmingly suggests that African American enthusiasm for the Democrat is on par with what we've seen in previous elections. Gallup has 85 percent of black registered voters supporting Kerry, with only 7 percent supporting Bush. Similarly, Zogby tracking polls put Bush's black support at 8 percent. And Bush has been averaging 9 percent support among blacks in both the Washington Post/ABC tracking polls and in recent Pew polls. The only counter-evidence is from an October 18 New York Times/CBS News poll that comes close to the Joint Center findings and puts Bush's support among blacks at 17 percent--and a poll published by the St. Petersburg Times that showed Bush with the support of 19 percent of African Americans in Florida. These polls, however, all have large margins of error because of the small numbers of black voters in their overall samples. More reliably, a Black Entertainment Television/CBS News poll of black registered voters in July had Bush's support at 10 percent. And Cornell Belcher, a pollster who focuses on African Americans, says his surveys of battleground states have Bush in the single digits.

    posted by y2karl at 8:17 PM on November 1, 2004

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