Tuesday, November 4, 2008

How the Help America Vote Act (HAVA) disenfranchises minorities

Greg Palast and Robert Kennedy write in the Huffington Post on Oct. 27:

Voter fraud is a phantom according to Lorraine Minnite, an expert on voting crime at Columbia University. Only 24 cases of federal voter fraud have been uncovered between 2002 and 2005 despite massive government efforts devoted to uncovering evidence of a voter fraud crime wave. [as reported in the WSJ]

The GOP is ginning up hysteria about non-existent vote fraud by Democrats in order to distract the press from its own campaign to disenfranchise millions of American voters.

The Republicans have created an obstacle course of barriers designed to suppress the vote, purge tens of thousands of Democratic voters from voting rolls, create mayhem and delay at voting venues on Election Day, and stop millions of votes from being counted this election cycle.

Jailed GOP activist Jack Abramoff and his fellow convict, Congressman Bob Ney, wrote the most sinister provisions of the Help America Vote Act (HAVA) which Congress passed in 2002 creating a series of diabolically cunning new voting impediments. HAVA, for example, allows state voting officials to purge tens of thousands of voters from the polls using algorithms and voter ID requirements that disproportionately disenfranchise black, Hispanic and minority voters, and other Democratic demographics including senior citizens and young people.

If I was an evil Republican political strategist, at this moment I would be 1) look to take advantage of any conceivable last-minute military incident or terror-related development that might scare undecided voters into supporting McCain; 2) step up efforts to dissuade likely Democratic Party supporters -- blacks, people who have suffered mortgage foreclosures from voting, while 3) continuing to trumpet the false alarm about the RNC invented smear of alleged ACORN "voter fraud." ACORN is a group devoted to helping blacks and other minorities get registered; 4) talk-up the narrowing poll numbers, the race issue and the so-called Bradley Effect, because creating the illusion that McCain is within striking distance of Obama will provide an after-the-fact rationale for any surprise.

UPDATE: See also this article by Kennedy and Palast.

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