Republican Voter Suppression: A Guide

October 29, 2008 7:19 pm

There are so many Republican gambits designed to make voting more difficult — specifically for Democrats, of course — that it can be hard to keep track of them all. So here’s a handy — and by no means comprehensive — guide to what’s happening in some of the key swing states.

The U.S. Supreme Court earlier this month denied a bid by the state GOP to force Democratic secretary of state Jennifer Brunner to provide local election officials with lists of new voters whose registration information did not match that on other government documents. Voting-rights advocates had feared that making Brunner hand over the lists could lead to a slew of GOP challenges, forcing hundreds of thousands of voters to cast provisional ballots. Republican leader (and Ohioan) John Boehner — with help from the White House — has asked the Department of Justice to step in, but few observers expect DOJ to take any action so close to the election.

New Mexico
The state GOP earlier this month held a press conference at which it released the names of 10 voters it said had voted fraudulently in a Democratic primary in June. After ACORN helped established that the voters, almost all Hispanic, were in fact legitimate, TPMmuckraker and others reported that GOP lawyer Pat Rogers apparently hired a private investigator, who intimidated some of the voters by going to their homes to question them about their voting status. Rogers, the P.I. and the state party are now being sued for voter intimidation by several voting-rights groups.

The Lake County GOP sued to shut down early voting centers set up by the county election board in Democratic-leaning cities in the northern part of the county. A judge declined to shut down the sites, though an appeal is scheduled to be heard later this week. But in the meantime, early voting at the centers has been proceeding. In addition, the Republican secretary of state, Todd Rokita, has called on law enforcement to prosecute ACORN for submitting 1400 suspicious-looking voter-registration forms in the county.

The chair of the state GOP wrote to Democratic Secretary of State Ross Miller, asking him to require newly registered voters to cast provisional ballots if they correct mismatches in their voter information at the polls. Miller responded with an interpretation of state law that rejected the GOP’s request.

The state GOP has filed a lawsuit designed to cast doubt on 140,000 voter-registration applications submitted by ACORN in four counties. Among other things, it would require the state to provide additional provisional ballots in the counties at issue. Democratic Secretary of State pedro Cortes has called the “frivolous”, saying it’s designed to undermine confidence in the system. The court has not yet ruled on the suit.

The state GOP announced earlier this month that it was formally challenging the eligibility of 6,000 people in Democratic-leaning counties, based in discrepancies in their addresses. After it emerged that among the challenged voters were a World War II veteran who had moved across town that year, and a member of the Army Reserve about to ship out to Kuwait, the move was condemned even by some prominent Republicans in the state. The challenge was withdrawn, and the man behind, it, Jacob Eaton, the party’s executive director, quit.

In early September, Secretary of State Kurt Browning, a Republican, instructed election officials to reject voter registration applications that do not pass a computer match test. Voter rights groups say the system can disqualify voters based on nothing more than a missing middle initial on their voter form, and that the late date of the order could cause additional confusion. They fear the move could disenfranchise tens of thousands of legitimate voters. And in a rare case of a Republican making voting easier, Governor Charlie Crist yesterday ordered extended hours for early voting centers, after long lines were reported in many parts of the state.

Republican Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen filed suit against the state’s election board, demanding that it confirm the eligibility of tens of thousands of new voters. In a recent interview with CNN, Van Hollen admitted that the GOP “may have asked lawyers in my office to file the lawsuit.” A county court threw the suit out, but Van Hollen soon announced the formation of a “voter fraud task force”, which would involve stationing 50 state prosecutors and other law-enforcement agents at the polls on election day, a move state Democrats have denounced as an effort to intimidate voters.

A voting-rights group, filed a lawsuit against Republican Secretary of State Mike Coffman, alleging that over 35,000 voters were purged from the rolls illegally. The suit, which was heard in court today, claims that voters have been removed from the rolls based on a faulty system for identifying illegitimate voters, and within 90 days of the election — both of which violate the federal Voting Rights Act. Coffman, who is running for the U.S. Congress in this election, denies that any rules were broken.

Masthead Masthead
Editor & Publisher:
Executive Editor:
Managing Editor:
Senior Editor:
Special Projects Editor:
Investigations Desk:
Front Page Editor:
Editor at Large:
General Manager & General Counsel:
Executive Publisher:
Head of Product:
Director of Technology:
Publishing Associate:
Front-End Developer:
Senior Designer: