Late last month, as a voter-registration drive by supporters of Senator Barack Obama was signing up thousands of students at Virginia Tech, the local registrar of elections issued two releases incorrectly suggesting a range of dire possibilities for students who registered to vote at their college.
The releases warned that such students could no longer be claimed as dependents on their parents’ tax returns, a statement the Internal Revenue Service says is incorrect, and could lose scholarships or coverage under their parents’ car and health insurance.
After some inquiries from students and parents, and more pointed questions from civil rights lawyers, the state board of elections said Friday that it was “modifying and clarifying” the state guidelines on which the county registrar had based his releases.
Boil my bleeding heart. Republicans frequently counter with, “Democrats inflate voter rolls!” however, as the Slate article states there is no proof of poling place fraud. The same cannot be said for voter suppression:
A 1982 federal court decree barred the Republican National Committee from caging after the RNC targeted African-American and Hispanic voters in New Jersey. That decision was reaffirmed in 1986 in a separate case involving African-American voters in Louisiana. Since then, state Republican Parties have contended in recent litigation that these rulings only apply to the RNC, as state parties are different political entities.
There was also voter caging in 2004 and the Bush Administrations Department of Justice sided with (SURPRISE!) the RNC:
While the court battles were playing out in New Jersey and Ohio in the days and hours leading up to the 2004 election – with the rights of minority voters hanging in the balance – did the Department of Justice step in to enforce the Voting Rights Act and attempt to stop the targeting of minority voters (who lean strongly Democratic in their voting choices) ?
No. Perversely, the Justice Department actually sent a letter to the Ohio federal judge overseeing the lawsuit in defense of the challenge statute that was being used as a basis for the vote caging scheme. According to DOJ, the vote challenge procedure in Ohio was important because it helped strike “a balance between ballot access and ballot integrity.” Never mind that it targeted minority voters, as the Jesse Helms campaign had done in 1990. It appears DOJ felt ballot integrity was far more important to their political agenda than ballot access.
Voter Suppression has been a part of the Republican’s dirty trick box for years. With Obama’s registration drives I’m damn sure we’ll see it again.