Republican Tea Party Groups Using Joke Lawsuit to Scare Minnesota’s Poor, Youth Vote away from Polling Places
Jeff Rosenberg reports that the teabagger wing of the Minnesota Republican Party is attacking efforts by state and local officials to keep them from practicing typical Republican voter-intimidation tricks:
Minnesota Majority, the group that is organizing gangs of thugs to intimidate voters on election day, is trying to turn our very polling places into partisan battlefields.
The law in Minnesota is simple: It says that no campaigning is allowed in the polling place. Voters must be allowed to exercise their right to vote peacefully, without being beset by partisans. The right to peace and privacy while voting is a fundamental part of our right to vote.
Now MN Majority and the North Star Tea Party “Patriots” are suing Hennepin and Ramsey counties for the “right” to outfit their voter-intimidation thugs with Tea Party logos and campaign slogans.
These groups are part of the umbrella far-right group “Election Integrity Watch”, and they’re trying to push to wear Tea Party slogans that despite their claims aren’t even close to being disguised as non-partisan. The lawsuit won’t get very far in court, but that’s not its point. Its point is to be part of the climate of fear and intimidation that the Republicans are trying to create in order to keep younger and poorer voters from voting.
A good chunk of the fear-and-intimidation gambit is to imply, heavily, that those who are poor, non-white, or between the ages of eighteen and thirty have no business trying to vote, and that any efforts made by them to vote are “illegal”. This is done in part by suggesting that “vote fraud” is a far more common problem than it really is:
“Voter fraud. It’s a felony.” So reads the “wanted” poster–style type on new fliers being distributed by Republican and tea party groups ahead of election day. What they don’t say is it’s also exceedingly rare. As Democratic Rep. Keith Ellison characterizes such efforts as “voter intimidation” — citing distribution of posters in traditionally DFL-leaning areas like college campuses and bus stops in lower-income neighborhoods — Hennepin County provides the Minnesota Independent with data that shows only .00006 percent of votes cast in 2008 were done so fraudulently.
How do we stop this, so close to Election Day? By getting out the word that it’s your legal right to vote if you’re poor, a college kid, or someone who has brown skin of any shade. The fine people at the non-partisan Election Protection group are working to do just that. If you see or suspect any instances of attempted voter suppression, call them at 1-866-OUR-VOTE.
In addition, if you know someone who needs somebody to vouch for them at the polls, do so (it’s perfectly legal, despite what Republicans like to imply):
If you are a registered voter in the precinct, you can vouch for someone seeking to register. When a registered voter vouches for another, the only thing they are affirming is the identity or residence of the voter, or both.
Vouching is not a statement of affirmation of anything else: not citizenship nor other disqualification from voting, such as a felony conviction, or a court-ordered guardianship. Part of the scare tactics employed by the voter suppressers to discourage people for assisting others to vote is the intimation that the voucher is guarantying everything about the qualification of the person being vouched for. Not true. The person registering makes affirmations about those things, and lying about them is a crime.
But a voucher is simply a substitute for identity and/or residence documents.
There are many situations where a voucher is the only way a person, constitutionally entitled to vote, will get the chance.