Re: NYTimes.com Article: Suppress the Vote?

From: Hedda Haning <haning_at_worldnet_dot_att_dot_net>
Date: Tue Aug 17 2004 - 10:32:12 CDT

Thank you. I appreciated that, and sent it on to my group.
Hedda
----- Original Message -----
From: "Arthur Keller" <arthur_at_kellers_dot_org>
To: <voting-project@lists.sonic.net>
Sent: Monday, August 16, 2004 10:40 AM
Subject: [voting-project] NYTimes.com Article: Suppress the Vote?

> The article below from NYTimes.com
>
> Suppress the Vote?
>
> August 16, 2004
> By BOB HERBERT
>
> The big story out of Florida over the weekend was the
> tragic devastation caused by Hurricane Charley. But there's
> another story from Florida that deserves our attention.
>
> State police officers have gone into the homes of elderly
> black voters in Orlando and interrogated them as part of an
> odd "investigation" that has frightened many voters,
> intimidated elderly volunteers and thrown a chill over
> efforts to get out the black vote in November.
>
> The officers, from the Florida Department of Law
> Enforcement, which reports to Gov. Jeb Bush, say they are
> investigating allegations of voter fraud that came up
> during the Orlando mayoral election in March.
>
> Officials refused to discuss details of the investigation,
> other than to say that absentee ballots are involved. They
> said they had no idea when the investigation might end, and
> acknowledged that it may continue right through the
> presidential election.
>
> "We did a preliminary inquiry into those allegations and
> then we concluded that there was enough evidence to follow
> through with a full criminal investigation," said Geo
> Morales, a spokesman for the Department of Law Enforcement.
>
>
> The state police officers, armed and in plain clothes, have
> questioned dozens of voters in their homes. Some of those
> questioned have been volunteers in get-out-the-vote
> campaigns.
>
> I asked Mr. Morales in a telephone conversation to tell me
> what criminal activity had taken place.
>
> "I can't talk about that," he said.
>
> I asked if all the
> people interrogated were black.
>
> "Well, mainly it was a black neighborhood we were looking
> at - yes,'' he said.
>
> He also said, "Most of them were elderly."
>
> When I asked
> why, he said, "That's just the people we selected out of a
> random sample to interview."
>
> Back in the bad old days, some decades ago, when Southern
> whites used every imaginable form of chicanery to prevent
> blacks from voting, blacks often fought back by creating
> voters leagues, which were organizations that helped to
> register, educate and encourage black voters. It became a
> tradition that continues in many places, including Florida,
> today.
>
> Not surprisingly, many of the elderly black voters who
> found themselves face to face with state police officers in
> Orlando are members of the Orlando League of Voters, which
> has been very successful in mobilizing the city's black
> vote.
>
> The president of the Orlando League of Voters is Ezzie
> Thomas, who is 73 years old. With his demonstrated ability
> to deliver the black vote in Orlando, Mr. Thomas is a
> tempting target for supporters of George W. Bush in a state
> in which the black vote may well spell the difference
> between victory and defeat.
>
> The vile smell of voter suppression is all over this
> so-called investigation by the Florida Department of Law
> Enforcement.
>
> Joseph Egan, an Orlando lawyer who represents Mr. Thomas,
> said: "The Voters League has workers who go into the
> community to do voter registration, drive people to the
> polls and help with absentee ballots. They are elderly
> women mostly. They get paid like $100 for four or five
> months' work, just to offset things like the cost of their
> gas. They see this political activity as an important
> contribution to their community. Some of the people in the
> community had never cast a ballot until the league came to
> their door and encouraged them to vote."
>
> Now, said Mr. Egan, the fear generated by state police
> officers going into people's homes as part of an ongoing
> criminal investigation related to voting is threatening to
> undo much of the good work of the league. He said, "One
> woman asked me, 'Am I going to go to jail now because I
> voted by absentee ballot?' "
>
> According to Mr. Egan, "People who have voted by absentee
> ballot for years are refusing to allow campaign workers to
> come to their homes. And volunteers who have participated
> for years in assisting people, particularly the elderly or
> handicapped, are scared and don't want to risk a criminal
> investigation."
>
> Florida is a state that's very much in play in the
> presidential election, with some polls showing John Kerry
> in the lead. A heavy-handed state police investigation that
> throws a blanket of fear over thousands of black voters can
> only help President Bush.
>
> The long and ugly tradition of suppressing the black vote
> is alive and thriving in the Sunshine State.
>
>
http://www.nytimes.com/2004/08/16/opinion/16herbert.html?ex=1093665738&ei=1&en=cdfc53cfbe78ece8
>
>
> ---------------------------------
>
> Copyright 2004 The New York Times Company
>
> --
> --------------------------------------------------------------------------
-----
> Arthur M. Keller, Ph.D., 3881 Corina Way, Palo Alto, CA 94303-4507
> tel +1(650)424-0202, fax +1(650)424-0424

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Received on Tue Aug 31 23:17:12 2004

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