[News] New Florida vote scandal feared

News at freedomarchives.org News at freedomarchives.org
Wed Oct 27 08:56:59 EDT 2004


New Florida vote scandal feared

By Greg Palast
Reporting for BBC's Newsnight

A secret document obtained from inside Bush campaign headquarters in 
Florida suggests a plan - possibly in violation of US law - to disrupt 
voting in the state's African-American voting districts, a BBC Newsnight 
investigation reveals.

Two e-mails, prepared for the executive director of the Bush campaign in 
Florida and the campaign's national research director in Washington DC, 
contain a 15-page so-called "caging list".

It lists 1,886 names and addresses of voters in predominantly black and 
traditionally Democrat areas of Jacksonville, Florida.

An elections supervisor in Tallahassee, when shown the list, told 
Newsnight: "The only possible reason why they would keep such a thing is to 
challenge voters on election day."

Ion Sancho, a Democrat, noted that Florida law allows political party 
operatives inside polling stations to stop voters from obtaining a ballot.

Mass challenges

They may then only vote "provisionally" after signing an affidavit 
attesting to their legal voting status.

Mass challenges have never occurred in Florida. Indeed, says Mr Sancho, not 
one challenge has been made to a voter "in the 16 years I've been 
supervisor of elections."

"Quite frankly, this process can be used to slow down the voting process 
and cause chaos on election day; and discourage voters from voting."

Sancho calls it "intimidation." And it may be illegal.

In Washington, well-known civil rights attorney, Ralph Neas, noted that US 
federal law prohibits targeting challenges to voters, even if there is a 
basis for the challenge, if race is a factor in targeting the voters.

The list of Jacksonville voters covers an area with a majority of black 
residents.

When asked by Newsnight for an explanation of the list, Republican 
spokespersons claim the list merely records returned mail from either 
fundraising solicitations or returned letters sent to newly registered 
voters to verify their addresses for purposes of mailing campaign literature.

Republican state campaign spokeswoman Mindy Tucker Fletcher stated the list 
was not put together "in order to create" a challenge list, but refused to 
say it would not be used in that manner.

Rather, she did acknowledge that the party's poll workers will be 
instructed to challenge voters, "Where it's stated in the law."

There was no explanation as to why such clerical matters would be sent to 
top officials of the Bush campaign in Florida and Washington.

Private detective

In Jacksonville, to determine if Republicans were using the lists or other 
means of intimidating voters, we filmed a private detective filming every 
"early voter" - the majority of whom are black - from behind a vehicle with 
blacked-out windows.

The private detective claimed not to know who was paying for his all-day 
services.

On the scene, Democratic Congresswoman Corinne Brown said the surveillance 
operation was part of a campaign of intimidation tactics used by the 
Republican Party to intimidate and scare off African American voters, 
almost all of whom are registered Democrats.

Greg Palast's film will be broadcast by Newsnight on Tuesday, 26 October, 
2004.

Newsnight is broadcast on BBC Two at 2230 BST every weeknight in the UK.

Story from BBC NEWS:
http://news.bbc.co.uk/go/pr/fr/-/1/hi/programmes/newsnight/3956129.stm

Published: 2004/10/26 17:06:30 GMT

© BBC MMIV


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