Category Archives: Voter Suppression / Voter Fraud

Actor Tim Robbins, middle aged white guy, removed from local voting rolls

See?  It can happen to anyone:

Updated, 4:42 p.m. | The actor Tim Robbins looked dejected and annoyed around 10:30 a.m. on Election Day, as he was sitting in a folding chair at the McBurney YMCA at 125 West 14th Street, one of the more than 1,300 polling places throughout New York City.

Mr. Robbins said that he had been surprised and dismayed to learn that he was not in the voter lists that are printed and bound before the election. “The issue is that they removed my name from the voting rolls,” he said. “My name was there for the primaries.”

Mr. Robbins expressed frustration. “The poll workers here know me,” he said. “I’ve been voting here 15 years.” He said the poll worker remembered seeing his name on the list during the primary.

Mr. Robbins, 50, is a New York City native and has voted at the same polling place since 1997. He and his longtime partner, the actress Susan Sarandon, have long been active in liberal causes and have urged voters to fight against disenfranchisement.

What happened to Mr. Robbins was similar to a scenario he described on an appearance on the HBO talk show, “Real Time with Bill Maher,” on Oct. 24.

On that program, Mr. Robbins urged people to insist on their right to vote:

Refuse provisional ballots. They’re throwing those out. They can throw those out. If that’s your last resort, take it, but fight in the polling place to vote. It’s your right as an American. You have every right to vote if you’re registered. And if you’re not on the rolls and something went wrong, document it. Video cameras at polls are going to be an effective way to fight this election day.

On Tuesday morning, Mr. Robbins appeared to be acting out his own advice.

At one point, a poll worker who tried to get the insistent Mr. Robbins to move mentioned calling over a police officer, and the actor responded, “Is this some kind of intimidation? I’m taking this as intimidation.” He added that he was prepared to be arrested, if necessary.

It did not get to that. Mr. Robbins was offered the chance to fill out an affidavit ballot. He filled it out, but did not submit it, and instead insisting on speaking to an official from the city’s Board of Elections, who informed him that he could go to the board’s Manhattan office, at 200 Varick Street, near West Houston Street. There, board officials verified that Mr. Robbins was indeed a properly registered voter, in the board’s database.

Paul G. Feinman, a Civil Court judge who was standing by to hear challenges from voters denied access to the polls, ruled that the board had to allow Mr. Robbins to vote. As of 1 p.m., Mr. Robbins was making his way back to the McBurney YMCA to cast his ballot.

Mr. Robbins said he “never in a million years” imagined that he would be asked to fill out an affidavit ballot. He does not trust provisional ballots, he said, because of research by Mark Crispin Miller and other scholars who have showed that such ballots are sometimes lost or discarded.

“Do the math on this one,” Mr. Robbins said, adding that a poll worker had told him 40 voters at the same polling site had had the same problem — with no apparent explanation. “It bears looking into that this might be a random elimination” of voters from the rolls, he said.

Indeed, voter registration records confirm that Mr. Robbins, a Democrat, has been a longtime registered voter in good standing, having voted in the November elections in 2004 and 2006. (He did not vote in this year’s presidential primary.)

“I have the time and luxury to do this,” he said of his four-hour ordeal to vote. “If this is a systemic thing, what does that mean for the country?”

Mr. Robbins said he did not suspect anything “nefarious” in his case, noting that his partner, Ms. Sarandon, who is also politically active, did not encounter any voting problems.

Late Tuesday afternoon, Valeria Vazquez Rivera, a spokeswoman for the city’s Board of Elections, said that Mr. Robbins actually had two registrations on file — one under the name Tim Robbins and the other under the name Timothy Robbins — with two different addresses, one of them outdated. The duplicate record appeared to have been the cause of the mix-up involving Mr. Robbins.

Apart from mix-ups like the one Mr. Robbins encountered, city election official have acknowledged that many voters — up to 30,000 in New York State, by some estimates — had been removed from the voter rolls. Officials at the city’s Board of Elections said the names were removed only after the voters failed to verify their residence. Mr. Robbins did not appear to have been one of the affected voters.

Mr. Robbins was hardly the only voter to go to the Board of Elections office at 200 Varick Street to assert their right to vote.

The office opened at 7 a.m., and people began arriving right away. Many of them were headed for a room on the 10th floor, where two judges and three referees — along with clerks and court stenographers — were prepared to hear people requesting court orders allowing them to vote.

Dozens of people showed up over the first few hours. Some had problems with flawed registrations. Some insisted that they had registered properly but were told at a polling place that their name was not on the voting rolls. Officials said that many of the people on the 10th floor were there because they had signed up to vote with the organization Rock the Vote, but their registration had somehow gone astray.

Among them was Christopher Ross, 29, from the Lower East Side. He said he had been told earlier that morning that his name didn’t appear on the voting list, and decided to ask for a court order
instead of using a provisional ballot, which he called “very unreliable.”

After a brief wait, Mr. Ross sat at a long table facing a referee and a clerk. He was sworn in and stated his name. After showing documentation that he had indeed registered with Rock the Vote before the states dead line, he was given a signed and stamped letter authorizing him to return to the Lower East Side and cast his ballot.

Some people, like Jeff Blum, 26, from the East Village, said that they had sought a court order because this election was particularly significant. “I’d like to be a part of this,” he said. “Fifty years down the line it’d be pretty awesome to say I voted for the first black president.”

And then there was Krystal Kaplan, 28, who entered a voting booth in Washington Heights, pulled a lever to the left to rest the machine, then pulled it to the right to register her vote — only to realize she hadn’t voted. “It’s so embarrassing,” adding by way of explanation that the mishap had taken place at 6:30 a.m., before she had a chance to sip any coffee.

So, she chose to travel downtown and back so she could have another try. At this time she said, she would get it right. “My vote count,” she said. “My vote could be the vote that makes the difference.”

Colin Moynihan and Mekado Murphy contributed reporting.

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Saturday cartoons

Some cartoons for you this Saturday as we prep for the election. 

A little post Halloween humor:

Larry Wright, The Detroit News

Larry Wright, The Detroit News

 I’m having trouble realizing that the election is just a few days away since we’ve been at this so long.  Anyone else have that problem?

Mike Keefe, The Denver Post

Mike Keefe, The Denver Post

I hope that everyone out there has a great voting experience.  Remember to video your vote and take the voter hotline numbers (1-866-MY VOTE or 1-866-OUR VOTE) with you.

And because I just like it:

Joe Heller, The Green Bay Press-Gazette

Joe Heller, The Green Bay Press-Gazette

 

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Filed under John McCain, political cartoons, Voter Suppression / Voter Fraud

Yes, Virginia, election day really is November 4

Virginia voters are being treated to one of the oldest tricks in the voter suppression handbook:  telling voters that election day for them is really November 5.  Recently, Virginia Democrats in Hampton Roads (Norfolk, Virginia Beach, etc.) have received fliers advising that election day for them is the day after the election, on Wednesday, 11/5.  This flier is especially misleading because it carries the state seal of Virginia and purports to be from the State Board of Elections.  Here’s the text:

 

Due to the larger than expected voter turnout in this years [sic] electoral process, An [sic] emergency session of the General Assembly has adopted the following emergency regulations to ease the load on local electorial [sic] precincts and ensure a fair electorial [sic] process. 

All Democratic party supporters and independent voters supporting Democratic candidates shall vote on November 5th as adopted by emergency regulation of the Virginia General Assembly.

All Republican party supporters and independent voters supporting Republican candidates shall vote on November 4th as precribed [sic] by law.

We are sorry for any inconvenience this may cause but felt this was the only way to ensure fairness to the complete electorial [sic] process.

Yeah, the flier really did speall “electoral” wrong.  Full disclosure:  I grew up in Hampton Roads.  But this story should make everyone mad.  If you know Democrats, especially African American Democrats, whose neighborhoods were (surprise!) heavily targeted, in the Hampton Roads area, please pass the word that this flier is bogus and election day really is November 4 … for everyone.

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Voter fraud report: Louisiana

Received via email:  h/t NewsfromUnderground:

I thought you’d be interested in this bit of news…

Yesterday I received my absentee ballot from Louisiana and guess what was missing?  The presidential ballot.  Outraged, I went down to dinner and began speaking to other students and I would say about 5 out of 10 people I talked to said they’d had an issue with absentee ballots as well.  Some hadn’t received their ballots yet and others also had materials missing, though I was the only only who was missing the presidential ballot.  It seems that this is a system wide deficiency and though I’d always heard that our voting system was flawed, I’d never experienced it first hand.  This morning I called the Registrar of Voters in New Orleans and their solution is that I have to find a fax machine so that they can send me my ballot, then I have to fax my ballot back to them waiving my right to secrecy…But what choice do I have?  I can vote, or I can not vote.  I then called my mom, a lawyer, and she has already called the local newspaper, the Obama campaign, and the Registrar of Voters to let them know that she is planning to file a class action suit on voting rights against the state of Louisiana with me as a principal plaintiff. 

Anyway, I thought you’d like that given our country’s practice of invading other countries in the name of democracy. 

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Steal Back Your Vote

Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. and Greg Palast have created a comic-book guide to help you steal back your vote.  Click for a larger version:

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Filed under How to vote / voter info, Voter Suppression / Voter Fraud

Purging the voter rolls in GA

Back in September, we talked about the process of purging voter rolls because of mismatched information.  This is the process being used in several swing states to match a voter’s registration info against computerized personal identification info, like social security info or driver’s license info.  As we mentioned then, if a data entry person, keying thousands of bits of data per day, keys a person’s name wrong by one letter, their registration will be kicked out as invalid and they may not be allowed to vote.

An article Sunday at CNN.com verifies that this is happening in Georgia with, of course, Democratic voters.  (Note:  I have yet to see evidence that this ever happens to Republican voters.)  I encourage you to read the full article.  I’ll extract here the story of college senior Kyla Berry, who was looking forward to voting in her first election:

College senior Kyla Berry was looking forward to voting in her first presidential election, even carrying her voter registration card in her wallet.

But about two weeks ago, Berry got disturbing news from local election officials.

“This office has received notification from the state of Georgia indicating that you are not a citizen of the United States and therefore, not eligible to vote,” a letter from the Fulton County Department of Registration and Elections said.

But Berry is a U.S. citizen, born in Boston, Massachusetts. She has a passport and a birth certificate to prove it. 

The letter, which was dated October 2, gave her a week from the time it was dated to prove her citizenship. There was a problem, though — the letter was postmarked October 9.

“It was the most bizarre thing. I immediately called my mother and asked her to send me my birth certificate, and then I was like, ‘It’s too late, apparently,’ ” Berry said.

Berry is one of more than 50,000 registered Georgia voters who have been “flagged” because of a computer mismatch in their personal identification information. At least 4,500 of those people are having their citizenship questioned and the burden is on them to prove eligibility to vote.

<snip>

So someone like Kyla Berry will be allowed to cast a provisional ballot when she votes, but it’s up to county election officials whether those ballots would actually count.

Berry says she will try to vote, but she’s not confident it will count.

“I know this happens, but I cannot believe it’s happening to me,” she said. “If I weren’t allowed to vote, I would just feel like that would be … like the worst thing ever — a travesty.”

We all know what happens to these provisional ballots:  they get trashed.  They do not count … ever.  So, no, Ms. Berry, you won’t be able to vote. 

For information on what you can do about voter suppression and voter fraud and what you need to do before and as you vote, see A little bit on voting.

Note:  As I write this, I’m listening to Obama speak to a crowd in PA.  He’s reminding us that we have to keep going.  Speaking in the rain and calling on the post office’s motto, he’s saying, ‘whether rain, or sleet, or snow, we’re gonna keep going; we’re gonna see this through.’  Vote, people.  No matter what the polls say, no matter how confident the folks around you, vote.  The polls are only good if backed up by votes.  VOTE.

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Filed under Barack Obama, How to vote / voter info, Voter Suppression / Voter Fraud

Watch this

I’m headed to bed with a migraine (no, you don’t need to know this, but I thought I’d share).  While I’m gone, you should watch this video on ACORN from Brave New Films.  It’s the real deal.

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Filed under How to vote / voter info, Voter Suppression / Voter Fraud