Later On

A blog written for those whose interests more or less match mine.

GOP vote suppression efforts being fought

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A standard GOP tactic is to find ways to suppress voting by voters likely to vote Democratic (the elderly, the poor, minorities, and so on). But that tactic is being vigorously fought. First, Haley Barbour in Mississippi loses a fight to skew votes by ballot design. Second, from a reader at TalkingPointsMemo:

A week ago, as the McCain campaign continued to drive the media narrative and consolidate its lead in the polls, you wrote:

“…I take it that their position now is that they’re not going to get knocked off their game. Instead they’re staying focused on the ground game in the dozen and a half states where they believe the race will be won or lost….So we’re left to take it on faith that they know what they’re doing, without having much way of seeing for ourselves.”

It’s a fair point. And though it’s tempting now to dismiss the last few weeks as a rapidly-dissipating bounce, and to applaud the Obama campaign for sticking to its game plan, the truth is that we don’t know much more about how the campaign is unfolding on the ground than we did a week ago. If the polls didn’t tell the whole story then, they’re not much more enlightening now.

With that in mind, it’s worth paying attention to a little-noted development this week in Michigan. The Obama campaign filed suit in state court to block the GOP’s “Lose your home, lose your vote” scheme, a plan to challenge the eligibility of voters whose homes have entered foreclosure – despite the fact that many remain resident in those homes. It’s a typical GOP disenfranchisement campaign, and it’s nice to see the Obama folks taking a proactive position.

But the really interesting part of the filing is the effort by the Obama campaign to demonstrate, in a court of law, that this behavior is “part of a broader state and nationwide campaign by the Republican Party to suppress the vote.” And, upping the ante, the filing alleges that “Defendant Republicans have a long history of engaging in coordinated, systematic campaigns to suppress and deny the right to vote of American citizens. Those campaigns are often targeted at various racial groups, language minorities, or individuals of low or modest economic circumstances whom Defendant Republicans believe are unlikely to support them in political campaigns.”

The filing is aimed at a particularly egregious and politically ill-advised initiative. Not only are the Republican claims here tendentious, but they’re targeted at a sympathetic group – largely white, financially-struggling voters, caught up in the economic crisis. But the suit invites the court to go a step further – to recognize a persistent pattern of egregious misconduct; to find that this is a local instance of a state and national campaign; and in so doing, to link this initiative with other, less politically toxic drives.

The court is more likely to rule narrowly than to recognize those claims in its decision. But by intervening directly in a local case, the Obama campaign is signaling that a national campaign to disenfranchise voters will receive a national response. And by reframing a technical debate over local election laws as a broader discussion of fundamental rights, the Obama campaign has already won. The GOP has long employed the chimerical notion of “voter fraud,” and preyed upon unpopular groups like students, non-Anglophone Americans and ex-felons. But they made a strategic miscalculation by going after homeowners suffering foreclosures. And by linking this effort at disenfranchisement to the others, the Obama campaign is going to make them pay.

(The filing is here.)

Written by Leisureguy

19 September 2008 at 11:21 am

Posted in Daily life, Election, GOP

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