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It is deeply ironic that Republican operatives are working so hard to tarnish the most dynamic voter participation in our country in decades—apparently to justify and camouflage their most organized attempt yet to deny Americans the right to vote. The right wing in our country is responding to the massive registration of new voters with a despicable, massive assault on voter participation.

The AFL-CIO strongly condemns the coordinated national effort by the Republican Party and allied political operatives to suppress voter turnout and deny ballots to newly registered voters, particularly young people, the poor and people of color.

The assault is taking many forms. By smearing voter registration groups such as ACORN with false charges of voter fraud, the Republican Party hopes to discourage new voters and divert attention from the issues that are motivating so many—the disastrous economic policies of the past eight years.

In state after state, Republican tactics are designed to create confusion and long lines at the polls to discourage and unnecessarily alarm voters.

In Ohio, where 800,000 new voters have registered this year, the Republican Party is filing lawsuit after lawsuit to purge from the rolls people whose information doesn’t match other public records—records that are widely acknowledged to be flawed.

In September, Florida’s Republican Secretary of State told election officials to reject registrations that do not pass a computer match process that is foiled by typos and other minor errors. In just three weeks, 75 percent of matching problems were found to be the result of administrative errors; others are still being checked.

Also in September, Wisconsin’s Attorney General, who co-chairs the state McCain campaign, filed suit against the state election board, seeking to challenge the registration, by his count, of tens of thousands of voters.

Just last week, the Pennsylvania Republican Party filed a lawsuit to force newly registered voters in the Pittsburgh and Philadelphia areas to vote under challenge and cast provisional ballots that would not be counted Election Day.

Registrars in several states have been denying registration to students who give dorm room addresses. In Maryland, a registrar circulated a memo saying students registering to vote could lose financial aid and tax dependent status.

And in at least one state, the GOP stated it would challenge mortgage foreclosure victims’ right to vote when they appeared at the polls on Election Day.

What we are seeing now is just the first wave of voter suppression. We expect it will grow to include false information distributed in communities where Republican support is weak, intimidation and challenges of voters at the polls, lawsuits seeking to throw out voting results and a longer term escalation of the campaign for more voter suppression laws.

It is up to all of us to speak out and soundly reject this travesty. The AFL-CIO and other groups, including the NAACP, ACLU, Lawyers Committee for Civil Rights Under the Law and the League of Women Voters, are responding with our biggest voter protection program ever. Some 1,400 lawyers have joined the AFL-CIO network of labor lawyers to travel into battleground states at their own expense to staff legal command centers and support the thousands of poll monitors who will assist people who have problems voting. In nine states, the AFL-CIO is educating voters about their rights, working with election officials about election administration and recruiting and training volunteer poll monitors and workers. We are referring voters to the toll-free voting rights hotline operated by the Election Protection coalition, 1-866-OUR-VOTE, to check their registration and report problems. The AFL-CIO also is airing radio ads in targeted communities giving voters tips on how to protect their vote.

With vigilance and a major effort by a broad array of organizations, we are determined to make it easy, not hard, for every citizen to vote. We call on the McCain-Palin campaign to do more to stop the suppression of votes by any means, as well as stopping hateful smears and disinformation. And we urge the media to join the effort to make this a free and fair election by increasing careful reporting and editorial comment on voter suppression before, during and after the elections—and to help give voters confidence that their rights will be protected.

Source: The Hill

By AFL-CIO President John Sweeney

See much more about voting machine problems here

Oct. 20 (Bloomberg) — Barack Obama and John McCain have a litigation game plan to accompany their election strategy.

Both candidates have armies of volunteers to ring doorbells and get voters to the polls. They are also forming squadrons of lawyers who are filing challenges and preparing in case Election Day doesn’t settle the contest for the White House.

Legal battles unfolding in Ohio, Indiana and Wisconsin provide fresh evidence of the potential fights to come over ballot access in an election marked by unprecedented spending to increase the number of voters in strategically important states.

The millions of dollars that have been poured into registration drives have yielded millions of new voters across the country. Those same efforts have now generated heated battles in both parties with cries of voter fraud and intimidation that may threaten the integrity of the election.

Election officials, meanwhile, are braced for huge turnout and the problems that could create with long lines, malfunctioning machines and challenges to voters.

Already, the U.S. Supreme Court has handed Ohio Democrats a victory, dissolving a court order obtained by Republicans to force state officials to release the list of 200,000 new voters whose names or addresses don’t match government databases.

Democrats’ Accusations

Democrats accused Republicans of trying to improperly disqualify voters.

In Florida, Democratic lawyer Charles H. Lichtman has assembled almost 5,000 lawyers to monitor precincts, assist voters turned away at the polls and litigate any disputes that can’t be resolved out of court.

“On Election Day, I will be managing the largest law firm in the country, albeit for one day,” said Lichtman, 53, a Fort Lauderdale corporate lawyer and veteran of the five-week recount after the 2000 election when Florida eventually delivered the presidency to George W. Bush.

Obama’s lawyers also have pressed allegations that Michigan Republicans planned to use mortgage-foreclosure lists to challenge voters. Indiana labor unions allied with Democratic presidential nominee Obama, an Illinois senator, are battling a Republican chairman over early voting in the state’s second- largest county.

2002 Law

Much of the partisan disagreement is over enforcing a 2002 law enacted by Congress to help states prevent a Florida-type recount by requiring election officials to set up database checks to purge voters.

Ohio’s Republican Party obtained a court order directing Jennifer Brunner, Ohio’s secretary of state, to give county election officials the lists of new voters whose names didn’t match drivers’ licenses or Social Security records.

In her successful Supreme Court petition, Brunner called the order a recipe for “disruption” and “chaos” as the state prepares for a presidential vote that polls of Ohio voters predict will produce another razor-thin margin. Database checks are not “a litmus test” for the right to vote, she said in a statement announcing the appeal.

Republicans contend the federal law requires record checks to counter fraudulent voter registration, which they say has been perpetrated by a nationwide network of community activists known as ACORN. The party’s presidential nominee, Arizona Senator McCain, has cried foul over the drive by ACORN — an acronym for the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now — to register 1.3 million voters this year.

Source: Bloomberg


WINFIELD, W.Va. — Three Putnam County voters say electronic voting machines changed their votes from Democrats to Republicans when they cast early ballots last week.

This is the second West Virginia county where voters have reported this problem. Last week, three voters in Jackson County told The Charleston Gazette their electronic vote for “Barack Obama” kept flipping to “John McCain”.

In both counties, Republicans are responsible for overseeing elections. Both county clerks said the problem is isolated.

They also blamed voters for not being more careful.

“People make mistakes more than machines,” said Jackson County Clerk Jeff Waybright.

Shelba Ketchum, a 69-year-old nurse retired from Thomas Memorial Hospital, described what happened Friday at the Putnam County Courthouse in Winfield.

“I pushed buttons and they all came up Republican,” she said. “I hit Obama and it switched to McCain. I am really concerned about that. If McCain wins, there was something wrong with the machines.

“I asked them for a printout of my votes,” Ketchum said. “But they said it was in the machine and I could not get it. I did not feel right when I left the courthouse. My son felt the same way.

“I heard from some other people they also had trouble. But no one in there knew how to fix it,” said Ketchum, who is not related to Menis Ketchum, a Democratic Supreme Court candidate.

Ketchum’s son, Chris, said he had the same problem. And Bobbi Oates of Scott Depot said her vote for incumbent Democratic Sen. John D. Rockefeller was switched to GOP opponent Jay Wolfe.

“I touched the one I wanted, Rockefeller, and the machine put a checkmark on the Republican instead,” Oates said of her experience Thursday.

Homer Simpson goes to vote for Obama

Retired factory worker Calvin Thomas of Ripley said he experienced the same problem.

“When I pushed Obama, it jumped to McCain. When I went down to governor’s office and punched [Gov. Joe] Manchin, it went to the other dude.

“After I finished, my daughter voted. When she pushed Obama, it went to McCain. It happened to her the same way it happened to me,” Thomas said.

Read more…

GOP Congressman Jokes About Pro-Obama Vote Suppression

What was not cleared up in this video – was that the Obama campaign paid a group called Citizen Services the $800,000 to register people to vote – who then subcontracted Acorn in a few States for around $80,000. You can see this here* when Bertha Lewis talks again about Acorn on CSPAN.

The trouble is that they have to submit every form regardless of whether or not they feel that the form was not filled out honestly. Their policy is to telephone or contact the voter at least 3 times to verify the registration.

When workers are paid to go out and get people registered – some people will sit home – or sit somewhere – and simply fraudulently fill out the forms. Acorn has taken action against people who have done just that – and if you’re working to get over 1M people registered – showing that there is a problem with 0.01% of these forms is not a bad feat – and many of these Acorn has flagged as fraudulent or suspicious themselves.

*CSPAN: Bertha Lewis, ACORN, interviewed by Alexander Burns, The Politico, & Chris Good, The Hill

The black guy can’t win. The black guy with the middle name “Hussein” can’t win. The black guy with the  middle name “Hussein” who has “most liberal voting record” in the Senate just can’t win. So if and when the terrorist-loving, radical ideology-embracing, “he doesn’t see America like you and I see America” skinny black guy from Chicago wins the presidency, the only logical explanation is that he stole it.

So goes the perverted “logic” of the panicked right these days, as the entire right-wing noise machine roars up into another faux frenzy this week regarding alleged “voter fraud.”

This was, after all, supposed to be the age of the “permanent Republican majority.”

As McCain’s numbers having nose-dived in the last week, some Republicans have dived head-first into the realm of conspiracy theories in order to sow the seeds of speculation that Democrats are going to “steal” this election. This week has provided some news items which they are using as kinder for their tinfoil bonfire.

ACORN (the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now), is an organization which has been registering voters in low-income areas. Volunteers at some chapters (who are paid per registration) have been found guilty of submitting to ACORN fake voter registrations. That, obviously, is a crime.

Indeed, as this screencap from John McCain’s “Strategy Briefing” demonstrates, the entire McCain campaign was premised on the idea that voters do not think Obama is “one of them”:

ACORN is obligated by law to turn over all voter registration forms, even the fake ones, but it flags those it believes are suspicious (Mickey Mouse, John Q. Public, etc.) While the why of the situation remains unclear, ACORN’s Nevada office was raided this week in connection with a voter registration fraud probe.

Ben Smith at Politico, like many others across the blogosphere, puts the ACORN story into perspective:

The key distinction here is between voter fraud and voter registration fraud, one of which is truly dangerous, the other a petty crime.

The former would be, say, voting the cemeteries or stuffing the ballot boxes. This has happened occasionally in American history, though I can think of recent instances only in rare local races. Practically speaking, this can most easily be done by whoever is actually administering the election, which is why partisan observers carefully oversee the vote-counting process.

The latter is putting the names of fake voters on the rolls, something that happens primarily when organizations, like Acorn, pay contractors for new voter registrations. That can be a crime, and it messes up the voter files, but there’s virtually no evidence these imaginary people then vote in November. The current stories about Acorn don’t even allege a plan to affect the November vote.

When the reporter calls him out on the distinction between “voter registration fraud” and “voter fraud,” Graham palinizes his response:

Asked to identify non-existent people who have voted in the presidential election, Graham said: “Have you been following the ACORN investigation out there? They’re registering people who don’t exist.” He said there are multiple registrations going on. “One lady registered 11 times. I’m saying that the dynamic out here of voter fraud is something we’re concerned about.”

Republicans are pushing the irrational theory that Democrats are “cheating” their way to the White House because for them, the real reason for a possible Republican defeat would be irrational.

In this atmosphere, maybe having a “liberal” president who favors reasonable regulation and stringent oversight isn’t a bad thing after all.

This was, after all, supposed to be the age of the “permanent Republican majority.” America is a “conservative country” we’ve been told. Indeed, as this screencap from John McCain’s “Strategy Briefing” demonstrates, the entire McCain campaign was premised on the idea that voters do not think Obama is “one of them”:

But that screencap is from many months ago, before the full brunt of the failure of conservative policies has come to the foreground with the resounding “thud” of a stock market collapse. In this atmosphere, maybe having a “liberal” president who favors reasonable regulation and stringent oversight isn’t a bad thing after all. And maybe, when voters are worried about how to pay for health care, voting for the Republican who touts the ability of the “market” to deal with the problem doesn’t seem that appealing anymore. 

And maybe, when voters are worried about how to pay for health care, voting for the Republican who touts the ability of the “market” to deal with the problem doesn’t seem that appealing anymore.

The middle class is being cheated. And they know–as much as Republicans would like for them to forget–which party has been in power for the last eight years. And as they flock to a candidate who promises them change from failed Republican policies, panicked Republicans flock to conspiracy theories.

Blaming a possible Democratic victory on “voter fraud” is much easier than acknowledging that a resounding Democratic victory would be a wholesale rejection of Republican governance. And it’s easier than admitting that voters–yes, Senator Graham, maybe even voters in Indiana and North Carolina–like what the liberal black guy from Chicago is saying about the middle class.

So let them wrap themselves in tin foil. Let them revel in nuttery now. They can use that tin foil to wipe their eyes if and when–as the polls suggest–they will be wallowing in defeat in November.

Source: Daily Kos