November 7, 2007

Dirty tricks target Hispanics in Fort Worth TX

Posted in Barack Obama, Elections, politics, voter suppression, voting, Voting Rights tagged , , , , at 5:17 pm by bluebanshee

The headline says: Tarrant County investigates bogus election flyers. But the ugly backstory is that the official-looking but phony flyers were found in a heavily Hispanic area and were aimed at suppressing minority votes. They had an official-looking seal and stated that election day had been changed to Saturday (instead of Tuesday). If a voter acted on this mis-direction they would find out that the election was over and they were out of luck.

Read all about it here in the Dallas Morning News:

There is an investigation underway but my prediction is that the culprit(s) will never be found, much less found guilty in a court of law.

Elections Administrator Steve Raborn said there’s no way to know how many fliers, which were in English and Spanish, were distributed.

“It’s discouraging if someone is trying to suppress the vote rather than encouraging people to vote,” Mr. Raborn said.

He said he was particularly disturbed that someone designed the flier to make them appear as if they came from his office. Mr. Raborn said the fliers were found in the heavily minority Rosemont and Worth Heights neighborhoods in Fort Worth.

This is the kind of trick that showed up in African-American neighborhoods in Ohio during the 2004 election cycle: anonymous flyers saying that because of heavy turnout Republicans were voting on Tuesday (the real election day) and Democrats were to vote on Wednesday (after it was all over but the counting).

Senator Barack Obama has introduced legislation to address just such voter suppression tactics (the kind perfected under the infamous Karl Rove — gone but not forgiven). This latest incident demonstrates why this legislation is needed at the Federal level.

Assistant District Attorney Marvin Collins said there could potentially be a couple of different election code violations, but he said there’s not enough information to say for certain.

If local DA’s don’t have laws on the books to enable them to prosecute these crimes against democracy then Federal legislation should be passed to provide better tools to go after individuals or groups which engage in this kind of activity.

I urge swift Congressional action on the Deceptive Practices and Voter Intimidation Prevention Act, sponsored by Senator Barack Obama, which would criminalize misleading and intimidating actions used to prevent voters, particularly minority voters, from casting ballots.

In my view, this latest incident is but a preview of 2008 unless there is a law on the books criminalizing this type of activity.


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