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10 States Where Voter Suppression Scams Target New Voters, Minorities and The Elderly

As the 2012 election countdown continues, voter scams are rising.
 
 
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Voting misinformation from shadowy sources. Avowed partisans pushing anti-voting propaganda. Election officials sending out mistake-ridden mailings. It’s all happening in 2012, reminding liberals that in many states not all eligible voters are welcome. 

The targets, more often than not, are likely democratic voters who’ve been targeted all along by the GOP’s voter vigilante efforts, most notably passing new strict voter ID laws. The best response is not to get mad at low-rent tactics and errors, but get out and vote.

Let’s go through the latest state-by-state run down, many of which have prompted secretaries of states to issue statements telling voters to not be fooled.

Florida

Several shady things are happening in the Sunshine State. First, someone (gee, who?) has been impersonating county election officials and sending official-looking letters to non-white voters in 23 Florida counties to discourage voting by non-citizens. The forgeries, dated October 18, have an American flag and eagle in the lefthand corner, a title that says, “Supervisor of Elections” and tells recipients to “please stop by our main office with any original documentation that demonstrate U.S. citizenship. Do not mail these documents.” (Their italics).

They also suggest scheduling “an administrative hearing” and enclose a “Voter Eligibility Form” that must filed “within 15 days of receipt. Failure to submit this form within fifteen (15) days will result in removal of your name from voter registration rolls[and you] may be subject to arrest, imprisonment and/or other criminal sanctions.” (Their bold lettering).

The Florida Department of State and FBI is theoretically investigating these letters, according to Florida news reports. However, considering that Florida’s Tea Party Gov. Rick Scott earlier this year falsely said that more than 180,000 non-citizens were on the state’s voter rolls, it would be naïve to think that anything substantive will come from the state’s part of that effort. According to the FBI’s Tampa office, the letters were mailed from Washington state, Businessweek reported.    

The voter intimidation letters are not the only Florida voter scam. Some Floridians have also reported receiving “phone calls about casting a ballot by phone and wromg voting hours,” the Secretary of State’s October 22 press release said. 

The nuts and bolts of Florida elections are run by county supervisors, not the statewide election officials—who, in contrast, maintain the statewide voter lists. In Palm Beach County, the supervisor recently discovered that a vendor misprinted 27,000 absentee ballots that would not be read by electronic scanners because of their page alignment. While that has raised more than a few eyebrows, that office has hired a team of workers to copy the misprinted ballots that hae been returned so they can be counted.     

Ohio

Some of these same kind of voter snares have also been seen in Ohio. The correlary in Ohio to Florida’s forged non-citizen voter intimidation letters have been billboards that that have run in 145 locations in Cleveland, Columbus (and in Milwaukee, Wisconsin). Voting rights activists launched a campaign to pressure Clear Channel Outdoor to take down the billboards— which did—but they still delivered their message: warning of prison time and a $10,000 fine for voter fraud.

Another eyebrow-raising ‘error’ also was recently discovered in Ottawa County, Ohio, where the Board of Elections mailed a post card to 2,200 people—equal to 7 percent of the county’s 30,000 registered voters—saying Election Day was Thursday, November 8, not Tuesday the sixth. The county, which is near Toledo, voted 52 percent for Barack Obama in 2008, suggesting the ‘error’ was an effort to tilt a blue county into the red.

 
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