A Warning for Our Mess at the Polls in November

September 10, 2012 | | Esquire |

The good folks at Demos, led by the indefatigable Liz Kennedy, released a report today about the legal underpinnings under what Demos predicts will be an epidemic of direct voter challenges at the polls themselves come November. This, alas, is neither new — challenging Hispanic voters at the polls in Arizona is how William Rehnquist got start in politics — nor is it particularly surprising. The new voter-suppression laws in several states are only half the plan. Some of the people whom you would not like to have voting this time around might arrange actually to get the new ID's. What is to be done then? The purpose of those laws is not to make voting merely inconvenient. It is also to make the voters whom the laws target nervous about moving through the various (government) steps required to comply. The solution to the problem of the braver voters who navigate the new landscape is either to knock them off the rolls through techniques like voter "caging," which we all became familiar with in Florida in 2000, or simply to get in their face at the polls and intimidate them directly.

Read: Bullies At The Ballot Box: Protecting The Freedom To Vote Against Wrongful Challenges & Intimidation >>>

(There is an Tea Partyish organization called True The Vote — as Bogart says of Elisha Cook, Jr. in The Maltese Falcon: "The cheaper the crook, the gaudier the patter" — that is training, it says, a million people to do this very thing. They were all over the Tampa convention. The new Demos report identifies TTV by name and Kindly Doc Maddow has been on their case, too.)

And there already have been dry runs. The Demos reports compiles several examples from previous elections, such as:

...a new threat emerged in 2010 when an organized and well-funded Texas-based organization with defined partisan interests, the King Street Patriots, through its project True the Vote, was observed intimidating voters at multiple polling locations serving communities of color during early voting in Harris County. Members of this Tea Party-affiliated group reportedly interfered with voters — allegedly watching them vote, "hovering over" voters, blocking lines, and engaging in confrontational conversations with election workers. Under Texas law, poll watchers are not allowed even to speak to a voter.