Flyers Aim To Keep Black Philadelphians From Polls

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Another election year, another apparent example of shady, under-handed efforts to discourage black people from voting.

The Philadelphia Daily News reported today that flyers have been making the rounds in some of the city’s African-American neighborhoods, falsely claiming that voters who face outstanding arrest warrants and even unpaid parking tickets may be arrested at the polls.

The flyers could prove particularly effective at scaring people away from voting, because they attribute the falsehood to “an Obama supporter.” They begin:

Recently, at school, an Obama supporter approached me during a rock the vote assembly. He informed me that on the day of the election there will be undercover officers to execute warrants on those who come to vote based on the anticipated turnout. He advised me if I had any outstanding warrants or traffic offenses I should clear them up prior to voting.

It is unclear who’s behind the flyers, which are signed “anonymous”. The mayor’s office became aware of them last week, and has passed them on to the offices of the District Attorney and the U.S. Attorney. It also plans to record a public-service announcement for broadcast, to help get out the word that the flyers are bogus.

“We’re watching, we’re being very vigilant,” Everett Gillison, the city’s deputy mayor for public safety, told TPMmuckraker. “We’re not gonna let anybody intimidate anybody into not voting.”

Democrats, of course, are counting on a large African-American turnout in Philadelphia this November to help Barack Obama carry Pennsylvania, a key swing state.