Bullies at the Ballot Box

Posted in Around The State, Election 2012, Elections, Take Action at 1:17 pm by wcnews

Now that we’ve staved off Voter ID in Texas, there is one more right wing election tactic that must be taken care of, voter intimidation. Here’s the description of the report Bullies at the Ballot Box.

Common Cause and Demos have analyzed laws in 10 key states governing voter intimidation and organized efforts to block Americans from voting . The report reviews Colorado, Florida, Missouri, Nevada, New Hampshire, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Texas, and Virginia, summarizing each state’s practices, and providing a set of recommendations for improvement. The report describes the threat posed by groups that are training volunteers to challenge and confront other Americans as they go to the polls. Voter intimidation is illegal under federal law and in all 10 states surveyed. The report shows that clear rules will ensure that eligible Americans can exercise their civic responsibility to vote.

Here’s an excerpt from the Texas press release.

The study concludes that Texas generally has mixed laws on the books when it comes to voter protection, and that there is plenty of work yet to be done to protect voters from voter intimidation and attempts to kick registered voters off the rolls.

True the Vote and other Tea Party-affiliated groups are reportedly recruiting 1 million volunteers to object to the qualifications of voters in targeted communities on and before Election Day, according to the study. These volunteers are being rallied to block, in their own words, the “illegal alien vote” and “the food stamp army.” Their stated goal is to make the experience of voting “like driving and seeing the police behind you.”

“Voting must be free, fair and accessible to all, and voters should know their rights,” said Common Cause President Bob Edgar. “It is important to maintain the integrity of our election system, but candidates, parties and political activists should be focused on persuading and turning out voters, not bullying them or trying to manipulate the law to freeze them out of our democracy.”

“We call on elections officials and law enforcement at the state and federal level to stand ready to enforce the law and aggressively protect every eligible American’s right to vote this November,” said Liz Kennedy, report co-author and Counsel at Demos. “Wrongful challenges and intimidating tactics should never stand between Americans and their right to have their voices heard on the issues that affect their lives. There should be zero tolerance for bullying at the ballot box.” [Emphasis added]

What they point out is that it is key for voters to know the law in Texas, regarding election day intimidation tactics.

Texas is exemplary in banning voter challenges on Election Day. Texas offers mixed protections for voters from wrongful challenges to their right to vote before Election Day. The state has some excellent and some questionable legal protections for voters from intimidation by partisan poll watchers on Election Day inside and outside the polls:

· For challenges to voter eligibility before Election Day, Texas requires a sworn statement based on personal knowledge.
· Texas is exemplary because it bans challenges to a voter’s eligibility on Election Day.
· Texas prohibits poll watchers from communicating with voters, and a judge can limit disruptive activity. However, the provision that allows a poll watcher to examine the ballot of a voter who has received assistance is very problematic and violates voter privacy.
· Texas prohibits loitering within 100 feet of a polling place, and prohibits persons not engaged in election code activities to be in the polling place.

No one can have their voter eligibility challenged in Texas on Election Day, and the only people that can communicate with a voter on, in the polling place, on Election Day is an election worker. Usually and election worker can be easily identified by their name take identifying them as such.

Voter intimidation has a long history in our country. Voter intimidation is used to try and select who does and doesn’t show up to vote. The best way, initmidators think, to win an election is to try and insure the opponents voters don’t even get to the polling location. So knowing our rights, and the law, will turn any bullies that are encountered into wimps.

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