Here’s another for the annals of vote suppression. Calls have gone out to an untold number of North Carolina voters telling them that they need to fill out a registration form before they vote. Democracy North Carolina, a government watchdog that has posted audio (wav) of the call, says that the calls went out to “black neighborhoods.”
It seems not to be a scheme limited to North Carolina. As Facing South reports, the same call evidently went out to some voters in Columbus, Ohio two days before municipal elections there last November, and also in Virginia the week before the Democratic primary there this February.
Here’s how one reader of the Buckeye State Blog described the Ohio call back in November:
From memory, a stentorian voice reminiscent of James Earl Jones says: “Hello. This is Lamont Williams. In a few days you should be getting a voter registration form in the mail. Please fill it out and return promptly and you will be able to vote. Thank you.”
Since the election is Tuesday, the message is nonsensical. Also, I can’t find any information on this Lamont Williams. The caller ID was blocked (“unknown caller”).
A transcript of the call released by the North Carolina State Board of Elections matches that description:
“Hello, this is Lamont Williams. In the next few days, you will receive a voter registration packet in the mail. All you need to do is sign it, date it and return your application. Then you will be able to vote and make your voice heard. Please return the voter registration form when it arrives. Thank you.”
And in Virginia, the Washington, DC NPR affiliate WAMU reported in February that “at least a dozen people in central and southern Virginia have received automated phone calls this week telling them to expect a voter registration packet in the mail.” Facing South reports that the a state elections board spokeswoman said the matter had been referred to state police, and that it wasn’t clear whether the calls also claimed to come from a Lamont Williams. But certainly the parallels are suspicious.
If Lamont has popped up anywhere else or pops up anywhere else, let us know.