Nov 02 2012

Early Voting Commences in Several States Even As Voter Suppression Continues

Despite efforts by Republican governors and other officials to undercut voting rights in many swing states, a record half a million people, among them significant numbers of African Americans, have showed up to vote early in Florida, far greater than numbers four years ago. The strong showing is the result of innovative Get-out-the-Vote programs by community organizations. It’s not all good news for voting rights however – reports have surfaced of voters in 26 Florida counties being sent confusing letters questioning their eligibility to vote. The FBI is apparently investigating the letters.

In other states like Nevada, Colorado, and Arizona, early voting among Latinos in particular has suffered setbacks. In one Nevada county people had to wait hours in line just to vote early and were illegally asked for ID. Hundreds of thousands of ballots mailed to voters in one Colorado county were potentially damaged. And, in Maricopa County, Arizona, Spanish speaking voters were sent mysterious letters asking them to call several phone numbers to verify their signatures before voting. The phone calls went mostly unanswered.

The threats to voting are also egregious for Native American communities this year. A new report by the National Congress of American Indians has outlined the myriad ways in which voters in their community are likely to be disenfranchised, particularly in states like Alaska, Florida and Minnesota which have either passed or are considering bills to disallow the use of tribal IDs to vote.

Finally, in states like Pennsylvania, which have been battlegrounds over new Voter ID laws, voters are receiving confusing information, complicated by the last minute legal wrangling in courts over the laws, that have left even some officials scratching their heads as to what is now required and what is not.

GUEST: Brentin Mock, a lead reporter on Voting Rights Watch, a reporting partnership of and The Nation Magazine.

Click here to read Brentin Mock’s writings.

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