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Voters May Face ‘Ballot Bullies’

The Afro

A swarm of right-wing loyalists with intimidation on their minds can be expected to descend on polling places in minority neighborhoods this November, two public interest groups warned government officials Monday.

In a new report titled, “Bullies at the Ballot Box,” Demos and Common Cause describe campaigns by conservative groups—particularly the tea party-affiliated True the Vote—to train and deploy as many as 1 million persons to police the polls.

Demos, based in New York City, and Common Cause, based in Washington, D.C., are public interest groups that have targeted right-wing voter law revision and monitoring efforts.

“As we approach the 2012 elections, every indication is that we will see an unprecedented use of voter challenges,” the report stated, adding concern of “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.”

Singling out True the Vote, the report quoted Bill Ouren, the group’s national elections coordinator, as telling volunteers during a training seminar that they should make certain voters feel “like driving and seeing the police following you.” The group has been a chief advocate of restrictive voter ID laws, and its volunteers have become known for harassing voters, as in the case of Wisconsin’s gubernatorial recall election.