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Why You Should Be Very Afraid of This Year’s Ballot Bullies | The Nation

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Voting Rights Watch

Voting Rights Watch

In-depth coverage of voter suppression efforts nationwide, in partnership with Colorlines.com.

Why You Should Be Very Afraid of This Year’s Ballot Bullies

The scrutinization of True the Vote, and their voter-stalking Tea Party co-signers across the nation, is growing. Today, Common Cause and Demos released a report called “Bullies at the Ballot Box” that raises awareness about groups determined to challenge voters at the polls, even at risk of intimidating voters. Says the report:

As we approach the 2012 elections, every indication is that we will see an unprecedented use of voter challenges. Organizers of True the Vote claim their goal is to train one million poll watchers to challenge and confront other Americans as they go to the polls in November. They say they want to make the experience of voting “like driving and seeing the police following you.” There is a real danger that voters will face overzealous volunteers who take the law into their own hands to target voters they deem suspect. But there is no place for bullies at the ballot box.

The Nation’s readers may recognize that “police following you” line from our Voting Rights Watch 2012 reporting on the group True the Vote, which you can read about here.

The “Ballot Bullies” report examines laws around challenging voters in ten states, looking at how well or bad voters are protected from pre–Election Day voter registration challenges that can lead to reckless purging, voter caging, voters’ being challenged at the polls on Election Day and obnoxious behavior by poll watchers. According to the report, Florida and Pennsylvania have some of the worst voter protection laws, yet these are pivotal states that hold tremendous sway in the upcoming presidential elections. True the Vote has a substantial presence in Florida and has pressed hard for Governor Rick Scott’s reckless purging program there.

People of color in particular should be most wary of these groups:

With comments about the “illegal alien vote” and “the food stamp army,” King Street Patriots and their allies have created a climate of fear that voter fraud is rampant in minority precincts and used that fear to justify their discriminatory targeting of poll-watching efforts—again, without evidence to support the targeting.

The King Street Patriots is the Houston-based Tea Party group that gave birth to True the Vote and its spawn of poll harassers around the United States.

This report follows another released by the Brennan Center for Justice last week, “Voter Challengers,” which delves deep into the racial history and politics behind poll watching in America.

—Brentin Mock

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