TPM Election Central: Obama Volunteer On Scene Disputes Fox News’ Suggestions That Black Panthers Are Initimidating Voters

TPM Election Central (11/4/08)

Obama Volunteer Disputes Suggestions that Black Panthers are Initimidating Voters

Fox News and other conservatives on the Web are pushing hard on the story that two black panthers may be intimidating voters at a polling place in north Philadelphia.

But an Obama campaign volunteer who’s been on the scene since 6:30 AM this morning tells me in a phone interview that there’s been absolutely no intimidation of voters at all today. And a Pennsylvania spokesperson for Obama said the two men aren’t in any way affiliated with the campaign.

Fox News’ story is right here. It says one of two black panthers on the scene was “allegedly blocking the door,” says another was “holding a nightstick.” and adds that “the concern was that they were intimidating people who were trying to go inside to vote.”

But Jacqueline Dischell, the Obama volunteer, tells me by phone that that’s false.

Dischell confirms that there were in fact two black panthers guarding the polling place, a nursing home on Fairmont Avenue in north Philadelphia, earlier this morning.

But she says one was an officially designated poll watcher (it was not immediately clear which municipal office had designated him in that role), and the second was his friend. The second panther, who left two or three hours ago, was the one with the nightstick, she says.

Dischell says that earlier this morning a few men who identified themselves as being from the McCain campaign came and started taking pictures of the two panthers on their cell phones. She suggested that they seemed to be baiting the panthers, and that the designated watcher may have given one of them the finger in response to the picture taking.

The police came roughly an hour and a half later. She says she talked to the cops and told them there had been no incident. The police drove away without getting out of the car, she adds.

OpenLeft: ACORN Smears Setting the Stage for Possible Post-Election Lawsuits

OpenLeft

ACORN Smears Setting the Stage for Possible Post-Election Lawsuits

With an historic Election Day coming tomorrow, it is increasingly clear that the McCain-Palin campaign’s ACORN-voter fraud endgame may be to use their relentless attacks as a justification for a wave of legal challenges to close election results in key states. Over the weekend, McCain-Palin campaign manager Rick Davis made the rounds of the Sunday news shows claiming that polls showed McCain “structurally tied” in New Mexico, Colorado and Nevada. Never mind that, as SilentPatriot at Crooks and Liars points out,

“In Nevada, Barack Obama leads in the last eight polls, with a margin between 4 and 12 points.In Colorado, excluding John Zogby’s garbage internet polls, Barack Obama has lead in every single poll taken since the end of September. What’s more, the most recent PPP poll has him up a staggering 10 points.

And in New Mexico, Obama leads in every poll since the second week in September. The last four polls average out to a 10.5 [point] Obama lead.”

Campaigns historically make claims of pushing towards victory on the closing weekend before an election, but the McCain-Palin campaign and the Republican National Committee have been engaged in six weeks of smears and attacks on ACORN’s record-breaking voter registration work, all part of a coordinated effort to cast doubt on the integrity of the election. Where this is headed on the flip.

As Wade Henderson, President of the Leadership Conference on Civil Rights told the New York Times on October 26th: “There is a real concern that the courts will be asked once again to weigh in on tight races where the losing party may seek to raise real questions about the legitimacy of the vote…You can’t help but conclude that this is an effort to lay a foundation for a subsequent challenge to an Obama victory, should it occur.”

Two weeks earlier elections expert Rick Hasen at Loyola Law School said something much the same in the Huffington Post,  “For the last three elections, Republicans have been ramping up cries of voter fraud as a way of undermining the legitimacy of the election results should they not turn out in their favor…”

And just last week, the Washington Independent reported, “Even when the challenges fail, Republican officials persist in their claims of voter fraud in what appears to be an effort to lay the groundwork for challenging the outcome of Election Day.”

But even Ronald Michaelson, member of the McCain-Palin “Honest and Open Election Committee” admitted over the weekend to The Politico,

“‘Do we have a documented instance of voting fraud that resulted from a phony registration form? No, I can’t cite one, chapter and verse,’ he said.… Asked whether his own party was responsible for fostering that perception, Michaelson said, ‘Well, it doesn’t help. It has captured the attention of a lot of people.’ Why do it, then? ‘Maybe it’s because there’s nothing else to talk about,’ he said.’”

Washington Independent: Hey, You Know What This Election Is Missing? Mercenaries

Washington Independent

Hey, You Know What This Election Is Missing? Mercenaries

I voted early on Friday, since I’m about to board a plane to go to Ft. Leavenworth for a TWI assignment. And while I waited on the hour-long line at One Judiciary Square in D.C. to cast my ballot, I thought to myself: Shouldn’t there be some jackbooted mercenaries around here? You know, to protect the integrity of the electoral process?

Luckily, Nathan Hodge at Wired’s excellent Danger Room blog reports that voters in Oregon may not have to suffer the way I suffered.

CIA-linked private military contractor Evergreen Defense & Security Services offered to post sentries at Oregon polling stations on election day, detaining troublemakers” and making sure voters “do not get out of control.”

In an e-mail to local election supervisors, obtained by the McMinnville, Oregon News Register, Evergreen president Tom Wiggins said he “recognized the potential conflict” that could occur on November 4th. “Never has there been a more heated battle in the race for president.”

You don’t want those voters to get out of control, right? Especially those, you know, NEGROvoters??? Everyone reacts well to the sight of geared-up paramilitary dudes in front of polling places, particularly those from the African American community, who remember what it was like to have the cops “protect” them at the polling places.

Alas, Hodge writes, Evergreen’s sales pitch was turned down. Is there no justice in this world anymore?

TPM Muckracker: Georgia’s Secretary of State Promotes Voter Challenges and Refuses to Extend Early Voting Hours

TPM Muckracker (11/1/08)

Georgia’s Secretary of State Promotes Voter Challenges and Refuses to Extend Early Voting Hours

Add Georgia to the list of states where Republican officials are actively engaged in voter suppression efforts.

In the midst of a record turnout for early voting in Georgia, that has led to long lines, discouraged voters and exhausted poll workers, Secretary of State Karen Handel, a Republican, has claimed federal law ties her hands, preventing her from extending early voting hours.

With just days to go to the election, Democratic politicians demanded yesterday that Handel step in and extend early voting hours — as has been done in both North Carolina and Florida.

But in an opinion piece published in the AJC on Thursday, Handel blamed her inaction on the issue on federal law which requires Justice Department approval to change voting law.

Ironically, it is Georgia’s history of discriminatory voting practices that puts it on a federal “pre-clearance” list, mentioned in Section 5 of the Voter Rights Act of 1965.

Democratic Strategist: “Voter Fraud,” Race, and the Conservative Base

Democratic Strategist

“Voter Fraud,” Race, and the Conservative Base

Traditionally, Republican “voter fraud” agitation has been designed to distract attention from, if not actually justify, GOP efforts to intimidate or discourage minority voters. We’ll see next Tuesday what sorts of dirty tricks Republicans have in store this time around, but I suspect the current voter-fraud talk reflects a deeper psychological phenomenon among conservatives, not just some tactical ploy.

Hostility to universal sufferage is one of the oldest traditions in American conservatism. It transcends simple elitism and/or racism mainly in arguments that poor people will naturally try to use government to loot the property holdings of their social and economic superiors. And these arguments are not very far from the surface of the McCain campaign this year, given its preoccupation with attacks on Obama’s tax plan for providing “welfare” to people without federal income tax liability (never mind that refundable tax credits to working families who pay high and regressive payroll taxes was an idea once championed by Republicans such as Ronald Reagan).

It’s not too hard to connect the dots here. Barack Obama is an African-American with avid African-American support. African-Americans are participating heavily in early voting opportunities. His “socialist” tax plan will shower African-Americans with welfare benefits. And African-Americans, or their “elitist” Democratic leaders, will break every rule to make this all happen.

In many parts of the country, racial polarization has been the single most reliable vehicle for driving white working-class voters to the GOP, and driving white turnout up sharply. Whether the McCain-Palin campaign is consciously relying on this kind of nasty appeal in Ohio, the South, or elsewhere, I think it’s beyond any reasonable doubt that they are stoking it, not just with caterwauling about “voter fraud,” but with the entire series of attacks on Barack Obama as a radical who wants to tax Joe the Plumber to provide “welfare” to his supporters.

Count Us Out: ACORN Time To Play The Race Card (AGAIN)

Count Us Out

ACORN Time To Play The Race Card (AGAIN)

The Association of Community Organizers for Reform Now is launching a major ad campaign to accuse the GOP of vote suppression because of the concerns they’ve raised over ACORN’s rampant voter registration fraud.A new ACORN television ad that will go up nationally on Wednesday shows an image of a young black man while a narrator says “John McCain and the Republicans are trying to keep him an untold others from voting. Tell John McCain not this time.”

 

ACORN is also blaming Fox News for potentially depriving Americans of the right to vote. “And then there’s Fox News, accusing ACORN of all kinds of criminal activities hundreds-HUNDREDS-of times during the past few days,” said a recent email from ACORN asking for support from their members.

The Republican National Committee has denounced ACORN’s charges.  “ACORN’s most recent charges of voter suppression seem to be yet another attempt by this questionable organization to waste valuable taxpayer money and cloud their own record of voter registration fraud,” said the RNC’s Chief Counsel Sean Cairncross. “ Just as a losing Kerry campaign election manual in 2004 urged activists to lodge a ‘pre-emptive strike’ claiming voter intimidation regardless of validity, ACORN is taking a page straight from the Democrats’ playbook.  The only voter suppression taking place is that which prevented the false registration of ‘voters’ like Mickey Mouse, Donald Duck, and the Dallas Cowboys starting lineup from poisoning the American electoral system with fraudulent ballots.”

Talking Points Memo: Did New Mexico GOP Lawyer Hire P.I. To Intimidate Minority Voters?

Talking Points Memo

Did New Mexico GOP Lawyer Hire P.I. To Intimidate Minority Voters?

Minority voters in New Mexico report to TPMmuckraker that a private investigator working with Republican party lawyer Pat Rogers has appeared in person at the homes of their family members, intimidating and confusing them about their right to vote in the general election.

Earlier this week, we reported that Rogers — a lawyer and state committeeman for the GOP, who in previous elections worked closely with the party in pressuring New Mexico U.S. Attorney David Iglesias to pursue bogus voter fraud cases — isinvolved with a new effort to gin up concerns about the issue. Last week the state party falsely claimed that 28 people had voted fraudulently in a local Democratic primary race in June. Rogers, described in an Associated Press report on the allegations as “an attorney who advises the state GOP,” told the news wire that the party planned to turn the suspect forms over to law enforcement authorities.

The visits to minority voters by the P.I. appear to be connected to last week’s effort.

The story starts last week, when several representatives of the New Mexico Republican party, including Rogers, held a press conference to announce that 28 people had voted fraudulently in a Democratic primary in June in Bernalillo county, which contains Albuquerque. The party released the names of ten of these people — almost all of whom are Hispanic.

The allegations quickly fell apart. ACORN announced that it had contacted the county clerk’s office, who had verified that all of the voters were in fact legitimate. The group now says it has independently contacted 8 of these 10 voters to separately verify their validity.

But that wasn’t the end of the story.

Guadalupe Bojorquez, who works in law enforcement in Albuquerque, told TPMmuckraker today that her mother, Dora Escobedo, was one of the ten voters whose names were released by the GOP. After this happened, said Bojorquez, her mother had been contacted by the voter registration group ACORN. Bojorquez, with ACORN’s help, confirmed with the county clerk that her mother, who does not speak English, is indeed eligible to vote, and had been when she voted in June.

Nonetheless, Bojorquez said that her mother yesterday received a visit from a man who asked for her personal information, including an ID, in reference to her eligibility to vote. Bojorquez told TPMmuckraker that according to her mother, at one point the man asked what she would do if immigration authorities contacted her.

After Bojorquez’s mother, frightened, refused to let him in the door, the man waited outside her house. Eventually, Bojorquez’s brother arrived at the house, emboldening Bojorquez’s mother to go outside, call Bojorquez, and put her on the phone with the man.