September 27, 2008

Anatomy of Voter Caging — 2008 McCain Style

Posted in 2008 election, bogus absentee ballot mailings, Elections, John McCain voter caging, voter registration, voter suppression, voting tagged , , , , at 2:39 pm by bluebanshee

Because the Republican party has a long inglorious history of voter suppression  (the late U.S. Supreme Court Justice Rehnquist got his start politically as a GOP operative working to keep Democrats from voting in Arizona!) it should come as no surprise that they have gotten ever more sophisticated at it.  Admittedly their attempts in 2000 and 2004 were effective to some extent but very transparent.  Now they pretend to help you vote while ensuring that your vote will be thrown away.

Here’s how it works, step by step.  And if you should happen to be the recipient of one of these McCain mailings, call your local elections office  ASAP and verify that you are still registered to vote — and if tell the local officials about the mailing — you will be ensuring that your voter registration is current and performing a public service by letting the elections officials know what is going on.

Step one — prepare a glossy mailing from the campaign about some issue (veterans affairs, green jobs, Social Security, whatever).

Step two — send it to registered Democrats in a swing state in the hope they will take the bait but not notice the poison pill you have tucked inside.

Step three — when you suggest that the voter might want to vote absentee make sure that the enclosed application for an absentee is fatally flawed in some way and/or that the instructions are incomplete or incorrect.

Step four — celebrate  quietly every time a targeted voter takes the bait and risks their vote by sending your (flawed) absentee ballot request in  (usually to the wrong address) — sorta like devils rather than angels getting wings.

Here’s a blog post detailing the experiences of one Florida voter showing how it all works and what kinds of traps are laid for the unsuspecting.   http://theworldbymartin.blogspot.com/2008/09/caging-vote.html

Well. I received an interesting email from the Republican Party of Florida this weekend. It was a ad stating that the Democrats have ignored the need of our solders overseas… Now, as you can tell by the title of this entry, whether you agree with that or not is not what I’m writing about today.

Most ads that come from political parties usually are for the solicitation of money, but this one was different. This ad requested that I ask for a vote by mail ballot. This was a first, and under normal situations, I would have just tossed it in the trash and moved on with my life. But I thought my wife would get a kick out of the idea that the “stupid” Repubs sent us this ad.

Well she took a closer look at it and noticed a few interesting “mistakes” that were made on the ad.

First, the name on the address was incorrect. it was Martin Stuart Fried. Stuart is not my middle name. Obviously, because I received the letter, the address was correct.

Second, and more importantly, the return portion of the letter that is supposed to go to the Supervisor of elections of the county that I live in was actually addressed to the County Supervisor of Elections for Miami-Dade county. I live in Broward County.

Third, the return address on the portion of the letter that goes back to to the supervisor of elections had a different address (in Miami no less) than mine.

Now you ask what does this all mean… Well, I heard listening to the radio about a underhanded tactic that the Republicans have been accused of using in the past to invalidate potentially democratic votes. It is called caging.

Here is the wikipedia defination of caging when it is used in political cotext: term applied to a technique of voter suppression.

Now when I look at how caging has been reported in the past, this is not exactly the same, but it could still be considered a form of vote supression.

Blogger Martin Fried was alert and did not fall into the trap — but others might not notice the bombs buried in the mailing piece.

In conclusion, Friedman asks some important questions that I will offer some answers to:

1. What would have happened if I had sent in this request for a vote-by-mail ballot?
2. Would I have just eliminated my vote for the 2008 election?
3. Would I have eliminated the vote of the individual that actually lives at the address the vote-by-mail ballot was sent to?
4. Could this have just been a mistake by the Republican Party of Florida?

My answers:

1.  If Florida requires “exact match” between the name in the voter registration file and the name on the absentee ballot request, the entire request could be tossed and a criminal investigation for “voter fraud” might be triggered.

2.  Requesting an absentee ballot might prevent a voter from being able to cast a vote in person at their precinct.  They might be given a provisional (placebo) ballot or told that they can’t receive any kind of ballot.

3.  The vote of the person who actually lives at the Miami address might also be at risk.  So perhaps two voters might end up being disenfranchised.

4.  This is NOTa mistake on the part of the Republican party.  Variations on this mailing are happening in many swing states, as I have previously posted about.

If you receive a mailing like this, contact your local election office, verify your voter registration and alert the elections office about the potential problems with this mailing.

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