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Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Fight Voter Suppression... With Voter Suppression?

Posted by on Wed, Sep 26, 2012 at 4:47 PM

This article in the current issue of the Atlantic made me furious:

The next day, King Street Patriots—many of them aging white suburbanites—poured into polling places in heavily black and Hispanic neighborhoods around Houston, looking for signs of voter fraud. Reports of problems at the polls soon began surfacing in the Harris County attorney’s office and on the local news. The focus of these reports was not fraud, however, but alleged voter intimidation. Among other things, poll observers were accused of hovering over voters, blocking lines of people who were trying to cast ballots, and, in the words of Assistant County Attorney Terry O’Rourke, “getting into election workers’ faces.”

The Patriots’ alleged activities touched off a furor. The county attorney’s office, which received some 50 complaints of voter intimidation, launched an investigation. The head of the local chapter of the New Black Panthers went on TV to warn that the group would “not tolerate any intimidation.” The Texas Democratic Party blasted the Patriots for what it called “1960s style” tactics and filed a lawsuit challenging the group’s tax-exempt status. Undaunted, the group’s founder, a suburban soccer mom and small-business owner named Catherine Engelbrecht, addressed a boisterous crowd at the group’s headquarters the next week. “The nation is ready for something like this,” she said. In the months that followed, she began laying out plans to recruit and train 1 million poll watchers around the country by Election Day 2012.

This shit makes me fucking furious.

Why the fuck aren't liberals and progressives organizing "patriot" groups of our own? If aging white suburbanites can pour into polling places in heavily black and Hispanic neighborhoods "looking for signs of voter fraud," then by God urban black and Hispanic and Asian and white and gay "patriots" can pour into polling places in heavily white suburbs to look around for signs of voter fraud. Since nearly every case of voter fraud that has been uncovered—and there are precious few examples (in-person voter fraud is "virtually non-existant" in the US)—has involved white Republican fraudsters, we would at least have cause. Protect the integrity of our elections! Storm into white suburban precincts and hover over voters, block lines of people who were trying to cast ballots, and get in election workers’ faces! Why the fuck not? Why haven't we already?

Someone needs to organize a big, diverse group of liberal and progressive poll watchers and announce that we're sending these good and conscientious patriots into the white, largely Republican suburbs around Houston to look around for signs of voter fraud. It's time to give these motherfuckers a taste of their own motherfucking medicine. Voters in suburban precincts would shit themselves if buses filled with qualified poll watchers—of all races—poured into their neighborhoods, and into their precincts, and engaged in the exact same kind of voter intimidation tactics that groups like King Street Patriots are engaging in black and Hispanic neighborhoods. Maybe they'll realize—once it starts happening to them—that this shit is wrong and that it has to stop.

It's a move right out of the Saul Alinsky playbook. We can't do it here in Washington state—we're a vote-by-mail state—but I'll help spread the word and raise money for any group that wants to do this in Texas. This would be a protest against voter suppression campaigns in the form of a voter suppression campaign. It would be a targeted, symbolic action that would draw attention to this injustice by flipping the script on its head.

Hello, Houston?

 

Comments (55) RSS

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1
Just another reason that ALL states should be vote by mail. Except that mail in ballots should not need stamps. Just saying.
Posted by SeattleKim on September 26, 2012 at 5:01 PM · Report this
2
Hahaha, are you kidding? If brown people did this they'd just arrest them on the spot!
Posted by Ruke on September 26, 2012 at 5:01 PM · Report this
emma's bee 3
Dan,
A lot of us in the swing states are fighting this. I'm part of a large group of poll observers who will be in our urban neighborhoods in Cincinnati and other big cities in Ohio and elsewhere, making sure these intimidation tactics don't work. I did it in 2008 and it was incredibly rewarding.
Posted by emma's bee on September 26, 2012 at 5:03 PM · Report this
4
@2: Or Stand Their (White) Ground and shoot the brown people.
Posted by MLM on September 26, 2012 at 5:03 PM · Report this
COMTE 5
Seriously, that was my first thought as well - but then, can you imagine the shit-storm that would ensue if a couple dozen Panthers showed up at a polling place in, say, River Oaks, and began sniffing around the precinct officers' tables? The entire fucking Houston SWAT Team would descend on them like rain from a cumulus cloud.

Goddamned old, white racist bigots - can't die off soon enough, SFAIC...
Posted by COMTE http://www.chriscomte.com on September 26, 2012 at 5:04 PM · Report this
Supreme Ruler Of The Universe 6

Based on the last few elections in Washington State, I'd think you'd be calling for UN Observers to participate.
Posted by Supreme Ruler Of The Universe http://www.you-read-it-here-first.com on September 26, 2012 at 5:11 PM · Report this
milemarker 7
It's already against the law to intimidate voters. Poll workers ought to be all over their asses for pulling this shit. When we go to a restaurant and someone is bothering us there, we call the fucking manager and have their asses thrown to the sidewalk. Poll workers should do that, too, by calling the cops.
Posted by milemarker on September 26, 2012 at 5:17 PM · Report this
8
WHERE ARE THE BLACK PANTHERS WHEN YOU NEED THEM?
Posted by AC0RN on September 26, 2012 at 5:19 PM · Report this
9
@3, thank you for your service!
Posted by gloomy gus on September 26, 2012 at 5:19 PM · Report this
10
The concept of voter fraud should be legally extended to encompass fraudulent attempts to deny eligible persons the right to vote.

Anyone want to take a whack at a potential WA state initiative covering this? Turn the tables on the louts?
Posted by Velveteen Robot on September 26, 2012 at 5:29 PM · Report this
11
I don't see any benefit to that. If people have the time, they should do what @3 said and monitor minority-leaning polling places to make sure this shit doesn't fly there.
Posted by Christy O on September 26, 2012 at 5:34 PM · Report this
Bob Anderton 12
I volunteered as a Voter Protection Attorney in prior elections ... "someone" is doing something about this... at least here, but Seattle is not like these other places.

Everyone here was very helpful. And now, with our vote by mail system, intimidation is a bit more difficult. And we are not a swing state.
Posted by Bob Anderton http://www.washingtonbikelaw.com on September 26, 2012 at 5:34 PM · Report this
13
Oy vey.

I don't fault Dan being fucking furious. And yes, if the Far Right is going to stoop to such tactics, while wrapping themselves in the Flag, I can see how anything less than giving them a dose of their own medicine would likely be construed as Liberal/Lefty weakness.

But it is really sad that it has come to this.

As the US gets poorer, and more economically unequal, and more angry, I can see the pathway to the self-destruction of our experiment in self-government in this sort of tit-for-tat escalation in incivility. Not that anything horrid is inevitable: I am not surrendering to fatalistic pessimism.

But it won't be an external power that brings the whole house of cards down, should things eventually tumble: I have seen the enemy, and He is Us.
Posted by Functional Atheist on September 26, 2012 at 5:37 PM · Report this
Max Solomon 14
we have JOBS, apparently unlike these RW assholes.
Posted by Max Solomon on September 26, 2012 at 5:38 PM · Report this
Doctor Memory 15
Mark the day: Bailo actually had a perfectly good suggestion.

Someone call Jimmy Carter.
Posted by Doctor Memory http://blahg.blank.org on September 26, 2012 at 5:49 PM · Report this
dwightmoodyforgetsthings 16
"Why the fuck aren't liberals and progressives organizing "patriot" groups of our own? "

Because we believe in democracy.
Posted by dwightmoodyforgetsthings http://www.reddit.com/r/spaceclop on September 26, 2012 at 6:17 PM · Report this
17
All these issue's with the voting process should straighten themselves once you get these baby's set up: http://www.theonion.com/articles/florida…

Posted by Spindles on September 26, 2012 at 6:23 PM · Report this
raku 18
If only we knew some progressive national figure who had experience organizing national grassroots projects. :( Maybe someone with a tv show or podcast or newspaper column or blog or something.
Posted by raku on September 26, 2012 at 6:23 PM · Report this
19
Simply hang very large signs just outside the polling place that read NO PUBLIC RESTROOMS.
Posted by kinaidos on September 26, 2012 at 6:24 PM · Report this
20
I agree with the folks here who there this is a terrible idea. You can't supressing votes and call it a "symbolic action". If you are fucking with the process, you are responding at their level. There must be clever ways to do this without actually "mock" indimidating white voters. If we can't get real U.N. election monitors, how about dressing up as UN monitors at a number of high-profile polling places to make the point? You could even figure out which place Romney votes at and other republicans in congress who support these laws, and get photos of "UN monitors" making sure they are not frauds?

I don't know, but anything is better than resorting to their level. I haven't read Rules for Radicals in a while, but I don't think Alinsky would be into that. (Is there any way to integrate a "Shit In" into this?)
Posted by Jude Fawley on September 26, 2012 at 6:28 PM · Report this
21
correction: "Folks here who THINK" not "there", obviously.
Posted by Jude Fawley on September 26, 2012 at 6:30 PM · Report this
Bonefish 22
If we did that, it would just devolve into yet another "It's-OK-If-You're-Republican" debacle, where politicians and media only focus on vilifying the progressive "patriot" groups.

What we need is for people to simply keep these Republican fucknuts out of polling places. Shove them away from any voters that they hover over; block their way into the general vicinity; etc. The challenge is finding a way to do this without committing assault on these people (tempting as that may be).

Posted by Bonefish http://5bmisc.blogspot.com/ on September 26, 2012 at 6:50 PM · Report this
23
Why shouldn't we do this? Because the police will happily ignore suburban Republicans and teabaggers intimidating poor and Latino and black voters, but they would arrest and beat and taser poor and Latino and black people doing the same thing to wealthy whites. That's why we shouldn't do it.
Posted by shambhaladawa on September 26, 2012 at 6:52 PM · Report this
24
Hey, Dan. How about sending some love to Our Vote Our Future, the Minnesota organization that is fighting what would be the second-in-the-nation (after Mississippi) state constitutional amendment restricting the right to vote. They've been making great progress in educating voters (support for the amendment is down to 52%, from 80% earlier this year). But they really could use a boost from you and your twitter, facebook, and column readers/followers: http://www.ourvoteourfuture.org/
Posted by lawyergrrl on September 26, 2012 at 7:09 PM · Report this
Urgutha Forka 25
What @14 said.

We've got jobs. Or we're in class.

Democrats are the young, working, breadwinners and college students of this country.

Republicans are mostly old retired people or "soccer moms" who are simply obeying their husbands' orders.

Don't believe me? Re-read the Urban Archipelago, or Goldy's posts about city dweller's taxes subsidizing the rural dwellers.... Democrats are the makers, republicans are the takers.

We don't have the time to do this kind of shit.
Posted by Urgutha Forka on September 26, 2012 at 7:18 PM · Report this
26
Not happening.
Not a good idea.
Posted by Lack Thereof on September 26, 2012 at 7:52 PM · Report this
27
@23's right. I'd think Dan could have figured that out. It always amazes me when white people say that brown/black people should do "X" or "Y". Especially in Texas.
Posted by sarah70 on September 26, 2012 at 8:37 PM · Report this
28
@8: Really?

Hopefully that statement is satirical.
Posted by Calvin&Hobbes on September 26, 2012 at 8:52 PM · Report this
29
13

FTW-
"But it won't be an external power that brings the whole house of cards down, should things eventually tumble: I have seen the enemy, and He is Us."

Very True.

We fear your refusal to surrender to pessimism may be too optimistic.

The nation has reached a stark divide, ideologically and financially.

Those who pay the bills,
the half of the population paying Federal Income Taxes,
have made it clear that they can not pay more.

Those who consume government, the takers,
have made it clear they don't care,
they refuse to pay themselves and they continue to demand more.

The issue will come to a head as our debt becomes unsustainable.
Very soon.

The productive class will,
forcefully if necessary,
have to cut loose the moochers.

It will not be difficult but it will be very ugly.

If Obama thought the right was clinging to their guns before he has no idea.....

We think an Obama victory is very possible.

And it will bring a tipping point that the nation will not be able to avoid.

Psychologically the Right is coming to grips with that inevitability,
and with what will follow.

We do not ask for this conflict but will not shrink from it.

"The tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time, with the blood of patriots and tyrants."
But not necessarily in equal measure....

The side that can not even provide their own healthcare will not last long.

A purging.

Posted by End of Days on September 26, 2012 at 9:07 PM · Report this
30
Yes. Yes, yes yes. Dan, as usual, is exactly right.

@23 That's why white folks have to step up on this one.
Posted by sahara29 on September 26, 2012 at 9:10 PM · Report this
31
What @30 and @23 said.

People who say they're unwilling to "stoop to their level" seem unwilling to recognize that that's how you win. Tit-for-tat is depressing and time-consuming, but if it works and if it's necessary and if the ultimate result is that the other side drops it as a tactic, but by God you've just got to do it.

This is probably the only time that I'll wish I lived in Texas so that I could participate in something like this.
Posted by anonymush on September 26, 2012 at 9:41 PM · Report this
32
@23, @30, that's why phones have cameras.
Posted by madcap on September 26, 2012 at 11:27 PM · Report this
LEE. 33
@29

Yeah, I mean all that LARP-ing has to pay off some time.
Posted by LEE. on September 27, 2012 at 12:00 AM · Report this
34
I completely understand Dan's outrage. I hope, however, that now that the Repubs' voter intimidation campaign has been exposed, Democratic poll watchers will be out in force to make sure that Blacks/Browns are not harassed when exercising their voting rights.

I don't live in a Red State, but any Dem from Texas who's reading this should volunteer as a poll watcher in places where the "Patriots" may be active.

Just shows that Repubs are such a dying party that they have to go to these extremes in their attempt to intimidate voters. Pathetic.
Posted by Patricia Kayden on September 27, 2012 at 3:16 AM · Report this
35
28

you don't know your President, sweetcakes
Posted by NO NO NO......God DAMN America! on September 27, 2012 at 4:37 AM · Report this
36
There's something to the "U.N. Election monitor" thing that I like. It's visual, and that helps... but I admit that as a white citizen of the US I've always been intimidated by the jurisdiction of Texas. Fundraising would have to include the inevitable legal defense of participants, as well as any health care costs from the pepper-spray/ ringworm etc. incurred while enjoying the judicial system of the Lone Star State.
Posted by Suzy Greenberg on September 27, 2012 at 5:48 AM · Report this
37
Totally agree with your outrage, but I just don't think it would be a good idea. Tit-for-tat culture wars never end well for people of color, especially in places like Texas. I think we are best to spend our time fighting this type of behavior, and arrest those that are intimidating voters.
Posted by sher-bear on September 27, 2012 at 5:52 AM · Report this
venomlash 38
@29: In other words "because we can't win the election, we're going to get all butthurt and try an armed uprising". Wow, sour grapes much?
And I really hope you know that it's the RED states, not the BLUE ones, that tend to have the most people not paying Federal income tax.
Posted by venomlash on September 27, 2012 at 6:19 AM · Report this
persimmon 39
The problem, I believe, is that if you pour a bunch of minorities into a white suburbanite neighborhood for any reason, they're going to get arrested. And that's the old school method of voter suppression.
Posted by persimmon on September 27, 2012 at 6:40 AM · Report this
40
38

No.

You must be a product of the Chicago pubic school system.

We are going to cut off the welfare state spigot.

The Moocher Class will riot.

film at 11.......
Posted by the blood of 60 million tyrants on September 27, 2012 at 7:40 AM · Report this
41

Standing outside voting areas and informing voters on their rights and reminding them to report any voter intimidations, now THAT I'm on board with. But come on Dan, you're a dad... Two wrongs don't make a right.
Posted by The fag on September 27, 2012 at 8:03 AM · Report this
LEE. 42
@40

How exactly do you propose doing that with an Obama victory?
Posted by LEE. on September 27, 2012 at 8:35 AM · Report this
43
As with the workers in Wisconsin, immigrants in Arizona, and teachers in Chicago, where are the Democrats? Ignoring or brutalizing their base for over a generation was the opening to racist rednecks redlining the vote. While I understand Dan's anger, responding in kind isn't the solution, and definitely not in Houston Goddamned Texas.

If there's a voter-rights Stonewall to be had, it will be done by terrifying complacent Democrats. In this age of Citizens United, the key civic lesson is that politicians are hired hands. Scaring the shit out of them will get results.
Posted by Che Guava on September 27, 2012 at 9:00 AM · Report this
Urgutha Forka 44
@40,
We are going to cut off the welfare state spigot.
Yeah, like Venomlash @38 said... the republican states.

Seriously. Look at a map of who's paying tax dollars vs. who's using tax dollars. The conservatives are the ones sucking at the welfare spigot.
Posted by Urgutha Forka on September 27, 2012 at 9:25 AM · Report this
45
Dan, there is this group: http://www.866ourvote.org/

>Through our state of the art hotlines: 1-866-OUR-VOTE (administered by the Lawyers' Committee for Civil Rights Under Law) and 1-888-Ve-Y-Vota (administered by the National Association of Latino Elected and Appointed Officials Education Fund), this website, and comprehensive voter protection field programs across the country, we provide Americans from coast to coast with comprehensive voter information and advice on how they can make sure their vote is counted. Made up of more than 100 local, state and national partners, this year's coalition will be the largest voter protection and education effort in the nation's history.
Posted by SunshineandPuppies on September 27, 2012 at 9:34 AM · Report this
46
The answer for why we don't do this is twofold:

1) There just aren't as many douche bags on our side. You have to be a pretty hardcore exclusionary judgmental douche to go do stuff like this. Sure, we have PETA, ELF and radical vegans on our side, but those are really very tiny slices of the left. The right has a much bigger pool from which to draw.

Also, our douches already have their pet projects. The right has douches just sitting around ready to be fired up for the next cause and since they are hierarchical, they respond well to organization and direction from the top. We just don't.

2) You gotta believe. Elites on the right mostly know this is a made up issue. The base does not. Even a lot of the elites have been sucked in by the B.S.

People just aren't going to go out and crusade on the basis of an issue they know to be false. Righteous indignation could perhaps make a few people do something like this once. In order to keep doing it they would need to believe they were doing something real. We know it is not real. We won't show up.

Keep in mind how exhausting the idea of being a jerk to strangers who are minding their own business is. You need a really powerful motivation to get there. We just don't have it.
Posted by Learned Hand on September 27, 2012 at 11:05 AM · Report this
Kevin_BGFH 47
@1 - In San Francisco, mail-in ballots do not need a stamp, but I think that varies county by county in California.

California State Law allows any registered voter to vote by mail without excuse or justification needed. While I love the process of voting in person, I am nevertheless registered as a permanent absentee voter. Some years I drop off my absentee ballot at my regular polling place on election day just so I can be a little bit part of the in-person voting process.
Posted by Kevin_BGFH http://biggayfrathouse.typepad.com/blog/ on September 27, 2012 at 12:21 PM · Report this
48
Dan, people of color cannot (and probably should not) do the same thing in white neighborhoods. Why? Because white privilege. For attempting this sort of action, non-whites would be putting themselves in much greater danger of being arrested, beaten, and maybe even killed. These white people are doing this because they *can* as whites they have the privilege to haunt other communities without fear of serious physical or legal repercussions.

Of course, people of color could respond in kind in spite of those risks, and perhaps that would be an even more powerful statement, but it would be a mistake to equate the actions and risks taken by of those communities with the actions and "risks" taken by these white communities.
Posted by Sovht on September 27, 2012 at 2:37 PM · Report this
49
Just be surgical about which suburbs you strike. Obama carried Harris County, which includes not just Houston but surrounding towns, in 2008.
Posted by reliable on September 27, 2012 at 5:09 PM · Report this
HellboundAlleee 50
I'd love to see Black Panthers at every little neighborhood church polling place in the country.

Seriously? Intimidating little old ladies, who tend to be the volunteers at these things? How could we NOT want to put some muscle behind them?
Posted by HellboundAlleee http://hellboundalleee.blogspot.com on September 29, 2012 at 10:29 AM · Report this
51
"Why the fuck aren't liberals and progressives organizing "patriot" groups of our own?"

How about because you are all mindless drones that cannot actually think for yourselves? Do some research and see who actually controls the national Democratic Party? You sheeple are so naive. . .
Posted by MJT on September 29, 2012 at 2:58 PM · Report this
52

Every election cycle, Democrats try to deceive blacks by claiming falsely that Republicans engage in “voter suppression” and want to “disenfranchise” blacks, even though blacks are voting in record numbers, particularly in the 2008 election when President Barack Obama was elected. Notably, after several investigations in 2000, 2004, 2006, 2008 and 2101 by civil rights organizations and liberal newspapers, Democrats have produced no blacks who were denied the right to vote. If even one black person had been denied the right to vote, that person’s name would have been blasted on the front page of every newspaper in this country. Democrats gleefully ignore the charges, investigations and convictions of the Democrat-controlled group, ACORN, for massive voter fraud in several states. Democrats also vigorously fight the enactment of voter identification laws that would prevent voter fraud.

Real voter intimidation was done by Black Panthers who wielded weapons, hurled racial insults at voters and blocked polls at a Philadelphia polling place in the 2008 Election. Incredibly, the charges were dropped by President Obama, which resulted in a unanimous Civil Rights Commission decision expressing outrage. Jerry Jackson, one of the Black Panther defendants is an elected member of Philadelphia’s 4th Ward Democratic Committee and was a credentialed poll watcher for Obama and the Democratic Party.

Think that this is not true? Do your own research and learn how to think for yourself.
Posted by MJT on September 29, 2012 at 3:27 PM · Report this
Occupy Seattle 53
Dan, you are getting some serious bromance love from me. But do us a favor, will ya? Can you tell your buddies as MSNBC about all the voter suppression that Republican Sam Reed is trying to pull off in our own state? That own bullshit about trying to use the same database Florida is using to suppress legitimate American citizen voters. And the monkey business about trying to suppress votes by sending 1.1 million registered voters in our state and telling them they are not registered to vote... when they are. This stinks to high heaven. We shouldn't be just wagging our fingers at these lawbreaker Republicans in other states. We should be seriously freaked out about what is going in our own state. Be ever vigilant.
Posted by Occupy Seattle on September 30, 2012 at 12:14 AM · Report this
Occupy Seattle 54
MJT, you are seriously a disturbed and deranged man. You are entitled to your views, but just do us a favor and take some meds. OK?
Posted by Occupy Seattle on September 30, 2012 at 12:16 AM · Report this
55
Voting is just a ruse to make people believe that they are part of the system and that there is some control that they are able to access. In reality, the machine is in control. Obozo has continued both of the wars just as G W Bush had already planned. In fact he has used the exact time table that was already in place for Iraq and Afghanistan. In 2009 and 2010 when the Demokrats were in complete charge they only were able to get a poorly crafted health care program through, one that has no real public option than the ones already available. No immigration, no tax code revision, no break up of the big banks; Nothing. He wasted two years! Gitmo still open for business and torture! War in Libya but a free pass for murder for Syria.

The great opportunity was not entirely wasted because we have not already decreased the value of the US Dollar by 25% and are printing $10 Billion a week. Soon it will be worthless and the game will be ours! Another four years should be plenty of time to bring on the total collapse, just like China needed to transition into to become the greatest power in the world. Soon China will have an aircraft carrier a few miles off the of Washington State. All paid for by the naive Americans via trinkets from Wal-Mart. The Great Leap FORWARD!

‘The future must not belong to those who slander the prophet of Islam’ - Obama is Great

Posted by MJT on September 30, 2012 at 9:23 PM · Report this

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