Challenge, or Suppression?
Rule no. 1 for Republicans: When in doubt, suppress the vote:
A recently distributed guide for Republican poll watchers in Maryland spells out how to aggressively challenge the credentials of voters and urges these volunteers to tell election judges they could face jail time if a challenge is ignored.A quick read of the handbook (PDF) reveals that, indeed, challenging people's right to vote is the overriding concern: Besides the money quote -- "Your most important duty as a poll worker is to challenge people who present themselves to vote but who are not authorized to vote" -- the handbook goes into considerable detail about how to challenge a voter, including threatening the election judges with jail time if they don't comply with the challenger's demands. Interestingly, the state board of elections' webpage on challengers/watchers describes them as being mainly observers of the vote, not active participants, and says the election judges have the power to eject any challenger/watcher who violates the rules.
Democrats said yesterday they consider the handbook, obtained by The Washington Post, evidence of a Republican effort to block people from voting Tuesday.[snip]
No one disputes the legality of having poll watchers set up folding chairs and monitor the election on behalf of their party. Typically, though, poll watchers are present to help ensure that their party's supporters get to vote, not the other way around.
In today's Post, Bob Ehrlich angrily denies the charges, while John Kane, the chair of the Maryland GOP, more or less affirms them. (Incidentally, Kane's wife is Ehrlich's secretary of state, and, in theory at least, in charge of the election.) As for the Steele campaign -- nothing. After the disenfranchisement of black voters in Florida in 2000 and in Ohio in 2004, Steele has nothing to say about his party possibly being involved, yet again, in civil rights abuses, of which African-Americans will be the likely target. As Steve Gilliard puts it:
Boy, I bet Wayne Curry and all those spite endorsers feel pretty f*cking stupid now.UPDATE: From Maryland Moment:
Michael Steele is going to remain mute on this because that is what he does, remain silent when the rights of blacks are challenged. He might mumble some grovelling excuse about how the white folks is right, but he might not even say that.
I would love, love to be proven wrong.
A spokesman for Republican Senate candidate Michael Steele said the candidate "encourages each and every Marylander eligible to vote to get to the polls on November 7th and exercise their most important right as an American citizen. He also stressed that all poll workers-- Republican and Democrat -- should follow the law to the letter."That's it? Pathetic. Talk about not standing up when it counts.