Barbour, Voter Intimidation Is Wrong, Cowardly

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Gov. Haley Barbour heads to Chicago today, where he will outline his own plan for national economic policies.

Gov. Haley Barbour is the latest Republican official to climb aboard the anti-voting sleaze machine and needs to climb off post-haste and do everything possible to ensure that every eligible Mississippi gets the opportunity to vote. This is no time—there is never a time, in fact—for the governor of a state to play partisan politics with the electorate, but it seems that is exactly what our esteemed governor is doing.

"Haley Barbour, the Republican governor of Mississippi, has questioned the legality of tens of thousands of new voter applications in his state, raising the prospect that new voters might be challenged on Election Day," the Financial Times of London reported Saturday.

"Mr. Barbour told the Financial Times that 'not all' newly registered voters in Mississippi were legal because of rules that require voters who register by mail to include a photocopy of a federally accepted identification in their application, or bring identification to the polls. 'I suspect some of those people won't be able to do that,' he said."

He "suspects"? Based on what, Gov. Barbour? Isn't it your role to get out and motivate people to vote, and help educate them about what they need to bring and what to do if they are intimidated in some way? Why not a public service announcement to help Mississippians ensure that they can exercise their rights as Americans?

It is tragic enough that the John McCain campaign, the Republican National Committee and surrogates have launched a desperate last-ditch effort to try to undercut the remarkable voter-registration efforts we've seen in the United States this year. It is the first year in memory that young people and people of color have been this excited by an election, and many are inspired to vote for the first time.

Sadly, this is bad news for a party that tends to benefit from fewer voters rather than more of them. So we're seeing every trick in the book employed both to purge voters from the voter rolls (thanks to the U.S. Supreme Court for stopping the Republican purge of 600,000 voters in Ohio). Now with McCain trailing in the polls, Republicans seem to think their best strategy is to start a controversy about "voter fraud" that will justify trying to overturn results that do not go their way, and to intimidate voters who might vote against them, hoping they stay home rather than deal with problems at the polls.

These are old tricks, and they are pathetic. And for Mississippians, to have a white governor be involved in such efforts sends the message to the world that we have not changed since the days when white officials in the state would not allow blacks to vote, or harassed them at the polls, or made it impossible to register with poll questions like, "How many bubbles in a bar of soap?"

The national GOP effort has focused on slandering the group ACORN, even though the "fraud" reported was actually against the organization by paid hourly workers who faked forms with names like "Mickey Mouse." ACORN found the bad applications, and by law were required to submit them with notation about the problem. "Republicans have leveled similar allegations against the coalition known as ACORN in every election since at least 2000, but they have yet to produce proof that the group poses a threat to election integrity," McClatchy Newspapers reported this month. And as voting experts around the country point out, it is going to be difficult for anyone to show up on Election Day and actually commit fraud under the name "Mickey Mouse."

The more disturbing "voter fraud" conspiracy involves Mark Jacoby of Young Political Majors; he was arrested over the weekend after being caught allegedly fooling people to switch to the Republican Party so that they could sign a petition against child molesters. And, yes, he was paid by the application, as he's been by the Republican Party in many states across the country.

Here in Mississippi, both Secretary of State Delbert Hosemann and Gov. Barbour have bent over backward to try to help Republican candidates and discourage new voting from people unlikely to vote for Republicans. This game has to stop. They need to stop playing partisan games and remember that they are public servants of all Mississippians, not just Republicans. We all pay their salaries.

It is wrong, and cowardly, to try to intimidate eligible Mississippians away from voting just because they fear losing an election. This state has been down that road.

Previous Comments

ID
139402
Comment

Barbour has done everything he could to ensure the elction of his Republican friends. From the jump, he made sure that Wicker got the notoriety and publicity for the Senate seat before the fact. Next, he (Barbour) tried to mess with the ballot by putting the Senate Race at the bottom of the ballot or on the back on hand ballots. Now, it's the purging of names from voter rolls, fearful letter writing tatics to include threats of being arreted and the list goes on and on.

Author
justjess
Date
2008-10-20T14:20:06-06:00
ID
139404
Comment

me suspects that a scheme akin to Ohio is already underfoot.It goes something like this: The secretary of state's office compiles a list of everyone who has registered to vote by mail and who will be voting for the first time.These persons under the motor voter law are supposed to present some form of i d before they vote.the aforesaid list of motor voters is then broken down by precinct.The precinc by prcinct lists are then handed off by Delbert and company to the Republican Party ,which in turn provides the lists to precinct poll watchers assigned to Democratic(black)polling places with instructions to "challenge" these motor voters and require them to produce I D.Practically speaking any challenge slows down the voting process,which is particularly bad when there is a long line, and likewise sows confusion since most people think voter I D is unauthorized in Mississippi.Maybe the free press needs to ask delbert if this is a scheme he is helping to cook up.

Author
chimneyville
Date
2008-10-20T14:23:56-06:00
ID
139405
Comment

a corollary to the above is that delbert cross checks the list of motor voters and sees which ones have drivers license numbers and social security numbers and addresses that dont match up with the voter registration application . remember-- the governor practicallyhas blanket access to driver records, and medicaid and AFDC recipients, given that his political appointees control the applicable state agencies.

Author
chimneyville
Date
2008-10-20T14:29:31-06:00
ID
139406
Comment

This is sooooooo wrong!

Author
justjess
Date
2008-10-20T14:32:14-06:00
ID
139407
Comment

delbert then gives the list of "problem" names to the GOP who hand it to their pollw atchers with instruction to challenge any such problem voter

Author
chimneyville
Date
2008-10-20T14:34:00-06:00
ID
139418
Comment

Well, my understanding is that there will be an army of attorneys in Mississippi to defend the right to vote, so Barbour and Hosemann had better be careful. Meantime, though, folks, tell everyone you know to take an ID to the polls. We'll have a full guide in the next issue of what to do, where to call, what to report, and so on.

Author
DonnaLadd
Date
2008-10-20T15:48:24-06:00
ID
139419
Comment

Speaking of voter-disenfranchisement tricks, Michigan Republicans are admitting what they did to illegally kick people off the rolls in court documents: Democrats and Republicans have settled the suit seeking to prevent Michigan Republicans from using foreclosure lists to challenge voters. The MDP statement on the settlement says: "An agreement announced today by Obama for America, the Republican National Committee, the Democratic National Committee, the Michigan Republican Party, the Michigan Democratic Party, the Macomb County Republican Party, the Macomb County Democratic Party, and plaintiffs Duane Maletski, Sharon Lopez, and Frances M. Zick protects the voting rights of foreclosure victims. The settlement acknowledges the existence of an illegal scheme by the Republicans to use mortgage foreclosure lists to deny foreclosure victims their right to vote. This settlement has the force of law behind it and ensures that Republicans cannot disenfranchise families facing foreclosure." In their reply to the joint motions to dismiss from the Republicans, the Democrats reminded that 6th Circuit precedent grants discovery before a suit like this can be dismissed on the jurisdictional grounds the Republicans had cited in their motions. "Under controlling Sixth Circuit precedent, when jurisdictional challenges raise questions of fact that are intertwined with merits questions, the proper course is denial of the motion to dismiss, conduct of discovery in the ordinary course, and consideration of the issues at the appropriate time on summary judgment. And because none of the Defendants has answered an interrogatory or produced a document in response to the Court-ordered discovery on jurisdictional issues, controlling precedent bars the Court from granting their motions. The rule is simple: When a defendant introduces evidence of its own related to the merits, it cannot block the plaintiff from conducting full discovery and still prevail." No wonder McCain conceded Michigan. Remarkable that Republicans thought they could get away with this. It is really a time for that party to move into a new era: it is time that the dirty tricks end. Develop policies that can win; don't play tricks to keep people from voting. The public is sick of it. Nasty robocalls, too, you fools.

Author
DonnaLadd
Date
2008-10-20T15:58:42-06:00
ID
139421
Comment

We aren't going for any repugnant cheating. No amount of schemes will fly this time.

Author
Walt
Date
2008-10-20T16:13:40-06:00
ID
139422
Comment

Or, is the election already stolen? Bobby Kennedy Jr. and investigative report Greg Palast have published an investigation in Rolling Stone that argues that Republicans have already stolen the election. Sure hope they're wrong: "The new registrations thrown out, the existing registrations scrubbed, the spoiled ballots, the provisional ballots that were never counted – and what you have is millions of voters, more than enough to swing the presidential election, quietly being detached from the electorate by subterfuge. "Jim Crow was laid to rest, but his cousins were not," says Donna Brazile. "We got rid of poll taxes and literacy tests but now have a second generation of schemes to deny our citizens their franchise." Come November, the most crucial demographic may prove to be Americans who have been denied the right to vote. If Democrats are to win the 2008 election, they must not simply beat John McCain at the polls – they must beat him by a margin that exceeds the level of GOP vote tampering. You can download the entire article and a voter guide here, as well as donate to voter-protection efforts.

Author
DonnaLadd
Date
2008-10-20T16:28:19-06:00
ID
139426
Comment

Of course, the problem with the ACORN scam for the Republicans is that it is turning attention to their own voter-suppression efforts. This just out about Nathan Sproul, who is on McCain's payroll: John McCain's campaign has directed $175,000 to the firm of a Republican operative accused of massive voter registration fraud in several states. According to campaign finance records, a joint committee of the McCain-Palin campaign, the RNC and the the California Republican Party, made a $175,000 payment to the group Lincoln Strategy in June for purposes of "registering voters." The managing partner of that firm is Nathan Sproul, a renowned GOP operative who has been investigated on multiple occasions for suppressing Democratic voter turnout, throwing away registration forms and even spearheading efforts to get Ralph Nader on ballots to hinder the Democratic ticket. In a letter to the Justice Department last October, House Judiciary Committee Chairman John Conyers said that that Sproul's alleged activities "clearly suppress votes and violate the law." That Sproul would come under the employment umbrella of the McCain campaign -- the Republican National Committee has also separately paid Lincoln Strategy at least $37,000 for voter registration efforts this cycle -- is not terribly surprising. Sproul, who has donated nearly $30,000 to McCain's campaign, has been in the good graces of GOP officials for the past decade despite charges of ethical and potentially legal wrongdoing. But his involvement with the Republican Party's voter registration efforts has the potential to create a political and public relations headache at a time when McCain can ill-afford one. For weeks the Arizona Republican and his allies have been seeking to tie Barack Obama to the community organization ACORN, which they have accused of potentially committing massive voter registration fraud. Sproul's contract with the GOP ticket -- in addition to news of Republican officials attempting to suppress Democratic turnout in California -- raises, for some, questions about McCain's own efforts.

Author
DonnaLadd
Date
2008-10-20T17:12:36-06:00
ID
139427
Comment

On a hunch, I Googled Barbour and Sproul to see what they might have had in common. In so doing, I turned up this congressional investigative report "ILLEGAL OR IMPROPER ACTIVITIES IN CONNECTION WITH 1996 FEDEELECTION CAMPAIGNS." Barbour, who was head of the RNC then, is richly represented. Sproul comes up a couple times. It is definitely worth a read, though, to get a sense of the inner workings of this most recent Republican Party machine that has driven our country into the toilet. From the report: CONCLUSION The evidence before the Committee shows that a myriad of tax-exempt organizations assisted Republican candidates during the 1996 election cycle, serving variously as tools of Republican candidates, conduits for Republican donors, and money-making operations for conservative fundraisers. One thing they all had in common is that they violated the spirit--and, in some cases, probably the letter--of the federal tax and election laws. If these de facto political organizations are not brought under control, they will be used even more extensively in future elections. It is possible, for example, that a single wealthy donor could influence the outcome of dozens of congressional races by channeling millions of dollars through tax-exempt organizations. If large donors are allowed to operate on that scale--and with no disclosure and no accountability--the campaign finance laws will be meaningless.

Author
DonnaLadd
Date
2008-10-20T17:24:13-06:00
ID
139428
Comment

Ain't it something how Republicans like to think they are the only people who are patriotic and how they want to spread freedom and democracy around the world, but they don't want Americans to register to vote, or even vote period. Not only is that undemocratic, it's plain unpatriotic.

Author
golden eagle
Date
2008-10-20T17:40:05-06:00
ID
139439
Comment

First of all, it's false to say that Republicans benefit from small turnouts. That might have been the case in the 1970's but it has been demonstrably not the case in the last ten years or so. The only reason Ronnie Musgrove won in 1999 was because there was a small turnout. Four years later, in a record turnout with Musgrove actually getting more votes than he received four years earlier, Barbour won with 53%. In Presidential election years, when the turnout is the highest, Republicans have won consistently in Mississippi. Second, to deny that voter fraud exists is to put your head in the sand. My personal favorite is the precint in South Jackson that voted in alphabetical order in 2003. Coincidentally, they signed in with the same handwriting, too. Third, the voter rolls in Mississippi are hopelessly out of date. In some precincts, there are more people registered to vote than there are alive. This inevitably encourages mischief on election day. Everyone who is legally registered should be allowed to vote. If they are not legally registered, they should not vote. That's all I read Governor Barbour saying. To say so is not undemocratic nor unpatriotic.

Author
Calmthedebate
Date
2008-10-20T20:50:51-06:00
ID
139440
Comment

Second, to deny that voter fraud exists is to put your head in the sand. No one has said voter fraud doesn't exist. We know it does and steps should be taken to make sure that it doesn't happen. But is the amount of fraud Republicans are crying about is really as prevalent as they're making it out to be? Personally, I don't think so. In fact, the example Donna gave about Michigan shows how much fraud Republicans are trying to commit. Surely, you would concede that some who have lost their homes due to foreclosure in Michigan (and nationwide, for that matter) are Republican voters. Even they would've been disenfranchised. And please don't twist my words about something being undemocratic and/or unpatriotic. Preventing legitimate voter fraud isn't. Purposely preventing people from voting in order to gain a political edge is.

Author
golden eagle
Date
2008-10-20T21:38:35-06:00
ID
139445
Comment

Everyone who is legally registered should be allowed to vote. If they are not legally registered, they should not vote. No, Calm, what he said (see above) was that he believed many are not registered correctly and sent a message that there would people at the polls to challenge the ballots on Election Day, which is a classic intimidation technique, and is happening around the country right now. It's not like Barbour is the only one doing it; he has, though, been great at coming up with such strategies as a Republican operative. So no surprise. As I said, if he believes that some voters registered and forgot to include their IDs, why isn't he making friendly PSAs trying to tell people -- all the (eligible) people -- what they need to do on Election Day to ensure they can vote instead of trying to scare up a conspiracy to the Financial Times of London, of all media outlets? It's the way he's doing this that is the tell. As for denying "voter fraud," can you read? No one denied that it exists; obviously it exists, and sometimes in dramatic ways like with Mark Jacoby's outfit tricking people with child-molester petitions to change their party affiliation, and our buddy Sproul's past problems with throwing away Democratic applications. But what is not true are the accusations against ACORN for widespread voter fraud. There is no evidence of it. And the ballots that were filled in by lazy hourly employees (not per ballot) with names like "Mickey Mouse" are not voter fraud because there is not actually a person attached to that registration trying to cast a ballot under the fake name on Election Day. It's ACORN who was getting screwed there, just like an employer whose employee pads their hours on their time sheet. ACORN found the problems and reported them, but the GOP is so desperate that it is twisting what happened into a national conspiracy. My, that's patriotic. There simply has not been evidence of widespread attempts at voter fraud in large part because it's not that easy to get away with. What there has been ample evidence of in recent years are attempts to keep Democratic voters away from the polls in any way necessary -- all the illegal purges, the intimidation, voter ID initiatives, etc. The truth is that I don't think all those techniques are smart, or would work, but it is clear that Republicans think so. And they are the ones who have decided that they can't win with more voters. That's a self-perpetuating notion, of course; it doesn't have to be true. The irony is that if the GOP had not played all these race-baiting and voter-intimidation games over the years, they might be able to win elections that attract most Americans. As it is, they've boxed themselves in a corner both with policies and election techniques. It's a problem of their own making, and the chickens will likely roost on them in two weeks. Then, perhaps they will go back to the drawing board and, once again, become a party to be proud of. I will say it again: Gov. Barbour needs to bend over backward to serve all the citizens of Mississipi, not just the ones he believes are going to vote his way.

Author
DonnaLadd
Date
2008-10-20T23:00:54-06:00
ID
139447
Comment

Voter fraud evidence elusive for RNC head This is what happens when they are asked to turn their rhetoric about massive voter fraud into simple evidence. The ACORN scam is one of the worst race cards the GOP has played. And that is saying something.

Author
DonnaLadd
Date
2008-10-20T23:32:41-06:00

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