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Vote Suppression Watch | The Nation

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Vote Suppression Watch

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Michigan.

About the Author

Andrew Gumbel
Andrew Gumbel is the author of Steal This Vote: Dirty Elections and the Rotten History of Democracy in America (Nation...

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2008 will go down as a year activists were able to keep a rotten electoral system honest.

It's clear that efforts to protect voters rights are working this time--in Virginia, Florida and Ohio.

The Republican Party chair in Macomb County, in the northern Detroit suburbs, told the Michigan Messenger in early September that he was planning a vote-caging operation aimed at the former owners of foreclosed homes--a group more or less guaranteed to generate a large quantity of returned mail and thus potential challenges. A storm of outrage ensued, and within a week the chair was denying he had launched such an initiative and claiming that he was misquoted.

Montana.

The executive director of the state Republican Party tried to have 6,000 voters in Democratic-leaning counties removed from the rolls on the grounds that they had changed their mailing addresses--at least according to an out-of-state vendor who sells change-of-address information for profit. The attempted purge was riddled with problems, not least the fact that many of those changing addresses were military personnel shipping out to Iraq and Afghanistan. The party has now dropped the initiative.

Wisconsin.

Wisconsin's attorney general, J.B. Van Hollen, who also happens to be co-chair of the state McCain election campaign, has sued the nonpartisan election board to try to force a review of all voter registrations received since January 2006 to make sure they tally with state records. The move, which has yet to be resolved in court, has been widely denounced as a partisan maneuver sure to interfere with the voting rights of as many as 1 million people.

Nevada.

Nevada's attorney general and secretary of state--both Democrats--ordered a raid on ACORN's Las Vegas headquarters after reports surfaced that registration forms gathered by the group included the starting lineup of the Dallas Cowboys. ACORN points out, correctly, that it had already alerted the authorities to questionable registration forms (which it cannot, by law, destroy) and suspects the raid is a vote suppression operation. More likely, though, the authorities were under huge pressure from Nevada Republicans to crack down on "voter fraud" and saw this as an occasion to show themselves to be evenhanded and thus prevent a backlash against Democrats on election day.

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