Millions Blocked from Voting in U.S. Election

Sep 22, 11:36 AM (ET)

By Alan Elsner

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Millions of U.S. citizens, including a disproportionate number of black voters, will be blocked from voting in the Nov. 2 presidential election because of legal barriers, faulty procedures or dirty tricks, according to civil rights and legal experts.

The largest category of those legally disenfranchised consists of almost 5 million former felons who have served prison sentences and been deprived of the right to vote under laws that have roots in the post-Civil War 19th century and were aimed at preventing black Americans from voting.

But millions of other votes in the 2000 presidential election were lost due to clerical and administrative errors while civil rights organizations have cataloged numerous tactics aimed at suppressing black voter turnout. Polls consistently find that black Americans overwhelmingly vote for Democrats.

"There are individuals and officials who are actively trying to stop people from voting who they think will vote against their party and that nearly always means stopping black people from voting Democratic," said Mary Frances Berry, head of the U.S. Commission on Human Rights.

Vicky Beasley, a field officer for People for the American Way, listed some of the ways voters have been "discouraged" from voting.

"In elections in Baltimore in 2002 and in Georgia last year, black voters were sent fliers saying anyone who hadn't paid utility bills or had outstanding parking tickets or were behind on their rent would be arrested at polling stations. It happens in every election cycle," she said.

In a mayoral election in Philadelphia last year, people pretending to be plainclothes police officers stood outside some polling stations asking people to identify themselves. There have also been reports of mysterious people videotaping people waiting in line to vote in black neighborhoods.

Minority voters may be deterred from voting simply by election officials demanding to see drivers' licenses before handing them a ballot, according to Spencer Overton, who teaches law at George Washington University. The federal government does not require people to produce a photo identification unless they are first-time voters who registered by mail.

"African Americans are four to five times less likely than whites to have a photo ID," Overton said at a recent briefing on minority disenfranchisement.

Courtenay Strickland of the Americans Civil Liberties Union testified to the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights last week that at a primary election in Florida last month, many people were wrongly turned away when they could not produce identification.


The commission, in a report earlier this year, said that in Florida, where President Bush won a bitterly disputed election in 2000 by 537 votes, black voters had been 10 times more likely than non-black voters to have their ballots rejected and were often prevented from voting because their names were erroneously purged from registration lists.

Additionally, Florida is one of 14 states that prohibit ex-felons from voting. Seven percent of the electorate but 16 percent of black voters in that state are disenfranchised.

In other swing states, 4.6 percent of voters in Iowa, but 25 percent of blacks, were disenfranchised in 2000 as ex-felons. In Nevada, it was 4.8 percent of all voters but 17 percent of blacks; in New Mexico, 6.2 percent of all voters but 25 percent of blacks.

In total, 13 percent of all black men are disenfranchised due to a felony conviction, according to the Commission on Civil Rights.

"This has a huge effect on elections but also on black communities which see their political clout diluted. No one has yet explained to me how letting ex-felons who have served their sentences into polling booths hurts anyone," said Jessie Allen of the Brennan Center for Justice at New York University.

Penda Hair, co-director of the Advancement Project, which seeks to ensure fair multiracial elections, recently reported that registrars across the country often claimed not to have received voter registration forms or rejected them for technical reasons that could have been corrected easily before voting day if the applicant had known there was a problem.

Beasley said that many voters who had registered recently in swing states were likely to find their names would not be on the rolls when they showed up on Election Day.

"There is very widespread delay in the swing states because there have been massive registration drives among minorities and those applications are not being processed quickly enough," she said.
Rick van Opbergen
I had read about the flyer thing and black voters in a book of Al Franken, it is the perfect example of dirty politics, makes me wonder whether the US is the 100% democracy Bush portrays it as.
The United States has become less and less democratic since the fall of the Eastern Bloc and the Soviet Union. I wish I had a time line of events which prove it, so I'm gonna try and find something on Google now..

Ok.. so the timeline isn't very good, but here we are:

[01 Feb 92]
"It is the sacred principles enshrined in the United Nations charter to which the American people will henceforth pledge their allegiance." President George Bush addressing the General Assembly of the U.N., February 1, 1992.

[19 Apr 1993]
Federal Forces Attack Mt. Carmel Church, Waco, Texas
Didn't think it could happen here.

[30 Nov 1999]
Anti-Globalization protests begin in Seattle
Peaceful protests overwhelmed by force.

[29 Dec 1999]
WASHINGTON -- The century is coming to a close with a third of the world's 193 nations embroiled in conflict, nearly twice the Cold War level, a group that keeps track of battle zones reported Wednesday.

[18 Apr 2000]
National Guard Called into Washington DC
Peaceful protests overwhelmed by force.
(Caption: Washington Police Chief Charles Ramsey walks by a line of national guardsmen during demonstrations against the International Monetary Fund and World Bank on Monday. Police detained hundreds of anti-globalization demonstrators Monday and hurled tear gas and sprayed pepper to crush protests aimed at disrupting the final day of talks between world financial leaders. (Shaun Best/Reuters)

[22 Apr 2000]
Federal Forces take Elian
Dynamic entry becomes more common.

[25 JUL 00]
Fed Chairman Defends Globalization

WASHINGTON (AP) - Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan strongly defended the process of globalization on Tuesday, warning that efforts to halt the growing economic connections between nations would disrupt the effort to spread prosperity worldwide.

"The bottom line of all the evidence we can marshal is that (globalization) has been a major force in increasing living standards in the United States and around the world," Greenspan told the House Banking Committee.

Greenspan said policy-makers must "avoid like the plague" doing anything that would undermine this process because trade barriers or other government intervention in the operation of free markets would hurt the effort to boost living standards.

[14 Aug 2000]
'No Globalization Without Representation' Protests begin in Los Angeles DNC
The Police State becomes vast and dangerous

then we have the patriot acts, 9/11, Iraq, FIxing of votes.. More on this at (Find the timelines -- they are mostly news stories on events.)
Quote: Originally Posted by Rick van Opbergen

I had read about the flyer thing and black voters in a book of Al Franken, it is the perfect example of dirty politics, makes me wonder whether the US is the 100% democracy Bush portrays it as.

There has never been 100% democracy in the US. Just look at its past and its present.
Reverend Blair
It's gotten a lot worse in the last 4 years though, Moghrabi. Secrecy, the Ministry of Hate and Mistrust (Ithink they call it the Office of Homeland Security down there) , the oppression of minorities, the abuse of anybody without money.

The founding fathers are spinning in their graves about now. They tried for a democracy and it's been turned into a con artists paradise in a very short while.
It only took them few hundred years to screw up their country. It took them 1 year to screw up the cradle of civilization (Iraq).
no new posts