Sunday, October 24, 2004

Bad news for Bush

Writing in the New York Times, Bob Herbert noted that more bad news about Iraq and our economy is starting to hurt Bush's chance of wining the election. GOP strategists are concerned. One manner in which this concern is manifested:

At the same time, the Republican Party is doing what it can in key states to block as many Democratic votes as possible. Party officials have mounted a huge organized effort to challenge - some would say intimidate - voters in states like Ohio and Florida, in a bid to offset the effects of huge voter registration drives and a potentially heavy turnout of voters opposed to Mr. Bush and his policies.

Election officials in Ohio said they'd never seen such a large drive mounted to challenge voters on Election Day.

It reminds me of the South before the Voting Rights Act of 1965, using literacy tests and other means to disenfranchise black people. For the entire op-ed piece, see:

Update: The New York Times editorial of Oct. 26 comments on this effort in Ohio, which it believe is chiefly aimed at obstructing and disrupting new Democrats from voting:

In the name of fraud prevention, the Republicans plan to use 3,600 challengers in Ohio, a pivotal state where the race is dead even and there has been a big surge in first-time registrations for Democratic voters. There is no telling how many partisan challengers there will be nationwide next week because many states do not require them to be identified in advance. If challengers behave properly, they can help make elections better. But partisan challengers acting in bad faith can do considerable damage. Aggressive challengers have been known to bully poll workers, many of whom are elderly and have only limited knowledge of election law.

It is likely that some voters will be challenged next week not because they appear to be ineligible, but because partisan challengers think that they will vote for the other side. There is a long history of challengers' targeting minority precincts and minority voters. It is troubling that in Ohio this year, the Republicans appear to be focusing much of their effort on Cleveland, Dayton and other cities with large African-American and Latino populations.

One of the gravest dangers is that partisan teams will challenge many, if not all, voters in selected precincts, with the goal of slowing voting to a standstill. In Ohio, every challenge will require a deliberation over whether the person in question should be allowed to vote. In presidential elections, lines in urban polling places are often hours long under normal conditions. If the challengers can add 10 minutes per voter, waiting times may become so long that thousands of voters will simply give up.

See for the entire editorial.


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