Voter Suppression via “True the Vote” Voter Intimidation Tactics

Election Integrity cat wants to know what is really going on at the True the Vote Ohio Summit – especially the discussion between former Ohio Republican Secretary of State Kenneth Blackwell and the current Ohio Republican Secretary of State Jon Husted. She hopes SOS Husted is less partisan than Blackwell since the 2004 Ohio election was a disaster for insuring an honest fair election for all Ohioans. Photo Credit by Cat by NathanF on flickr cc

“True the Vote” accused of Voter Suppression Tactics

The organization called “True the Vote” sounds like it wants to insure voter protection from the title of the group. However, according to folks who have attended recent events sponsored by True the Vote like the summit August 18, 2012 in Colorado, the attendees of this organization’s events are being schooled in tactics to intimidate and target voters they consider “liberal”. Attendees to these summits learn tactics for questioning voters at the polls, trying to find ways to purge voters from election rolls before an election – especially minorities who may tend to vote democratic.

“True the Vote” wants to appear non-partisan. However, their actions reveal they are out to intimidate voters who do not vote their way, the Republican way.

True the Vote Ohio Summit August 25, 2012

All the speakers they have selected for the True the Vote Summit on August 25, 2012 in Ohio are Republicans according to the press release. Here is a screen shot of their press release:

Republican Secretary of State Jon Husted and former Ohio Republican Secretary of State Ken Blackwell speak together at the Ohio True the Vote Summit August 25, 2012

Republican Secretary of State Jon Husted and former Ohio Republican Secretary of State Ken Blackwell speak together at the Ohio True the Vote Summit August 25, 2012

They claim they are cosponsoring the event with Ohio Voter Protection. However, who exactly are they referring to? There is an organization called Ohio Voter Protection Coalition, but no organization of note called just Ohio Voter Protection. The only speakers scheduled in their press release are all people who are partisan folks on the Republican side of the aisle.

Here is an article by someone who went undercover to find out what goes on at True the Vote events:

Steven Rosenfeld in his article “Going Undercover at the GOP’s Voter Vigilante Project to Disrupt the Nov. Election” said of Katherine Englebrecht and then John Fund, author of a book claiming there is massive voter fraud (even though evidence shows there has been only 10 convicted folks since 2ooo):

Her war stories [Katherine Englebrecht – founder of King Street Patriots of which True the Vote emerged] continued. They were low-rent compared to later speakers, who described a full-throated U.S. Justice Department conspiracy to ignore discrimination against white voters, or Fund telling people that they should enjoy bullying liberals because they were doing God’s work. “Your opposition are cartoon characters. They are. They are fun to beat up. They are fun to humiliate,” he intoned. “You are on the side of the angels. And these people are just frauds, charlatans and liars.”

Joyce Beatty speaks on voter suppression organization efforts in Ohio

Joyce Beatty said “True the Vote” which was investigated by DOJ for voter intimidation in 2010 “are trying to kill the vote.”

Featured Speakers include Former Ohio Republican Secretary of State Kenneth Blackwell (2003-2007) and current Ohio Republican Secretary of State Jon Husted (2011 to the present).

Former Ohio GOP Secretary of State Kenneth Blackwell has the distinction of overseeing one of the worst election debacles during the 2004 Presidential Election in Ohio. This 2004 Ohio election resulted in the most inept and troubling elections for voters in the history of Ohio elections. For details about the problems with that election, see this earlier post and this report, “Preserving Democracy: What Went Wrong in Ohio”.

Here is an excerpt from the above report executive summary:

Chronology of Events [November 4, 2004]
The Lead Up to the 2004 Ohio Presidential Election In Ohio – In the days leading up to election day 2004, a consensus appeared to have emerged among observers that the state of Ohio would be one of the battleground states that would decide who would be elected the Forty-fourth President of the United States. (See Susan Page, Swing States Lean to Kerry: Democrat Ties Bush Nationally, USA TODAY, Nov. 1, 2004; Anne E. Kornblut, Big Push to the Finish: Bush, Kerry Make Last Stand in Crucial States, BOSTON GLOBE, Nov. 1, 2004; Mike Allen and Lois Romano, A Feverish Pitch in Final Hours, WASH. POST, Oct. 31, 2004.)   Both the Democratic and Republican Presidential campaigns, as well as outside groups, had spent considerable time and resources to win the state, but the day before the election, the Democratic candidate, Senator John Kerry, appeared to have the edge. The Democratic Party also had vastly outperformed its Republican counterparts in registering voters in this key state. (See Ford Fessenden, A Big Increase Of New Voters in Swing States, N.Y. TIMES, Sept. 26, 2004.)

Election Day – Numerous irregularities were reported throughout Ohio. In particular, in predominately Democratic and African-American areas, the voting process was chaotic, taxing and ultimately fruitless for many. The repeated and suspicious challenges of voter eligibility and a lack of inadequate number of voting machines in these areas worked in concert to slow voting to a crawl, with voting lines as long as ten hours.  Voters reported bizarre “glitches” in voting machines where votes for Senator Kerry were registered as votes for the President [GW Bush].    The counting process was similarly chaotic and suspect.

The election was so riddled with problems primarily in democratic strongholds that a special investigative report revealed the horrors voters experienced on election day that November 2004. Here is a partial list:

*  not enough voting machines and broken nonworking voting machines resulting in voters, primarily democrats or minorities, waiting in lines for up to 9 hours

*  voters incorrectly purged from voting rolls

*  voter intimidation at the polls questioning if they were citizens or registered voters

*  voters in democratic areas received notices saying democrats should vote on a different day than the actual election

*  problems with the way the votes were tabulated resulting in questions about the final tally.

*  problems with absentee ballots reaching voters in time for them to cast a ballot.

*  problems with provisional ballots. Very few were ever counted once they were cast.

*  93,000 ballots that had the selection for President missing.

* Electronic DRE machines that switched voter’s votes from Kerry to Bush

Kenneth Blackwell’s administration of the 2004 Ohio General Election was a travesty of justice. As Secretary of State one would think that once in office, that person would dispense with partisan issues and want to insure that all Americans regardless of party affiliation would be encouraged to vote and have their votes properly counted. However, under Kenneth Blackwell, it seems that every dirty trick in the book was used to disenfranchise and discourage American citizens in Ohio from voting on that day or any other day.

Since the current Ohio Secretary of State Jon Husted was meeting at the same “True the Vote” Ohio Summit as Blackwell, one wonders what tips they are trading regarding elections. Hopefully, no tips, because any tips Blackwell would trade based on his track record would most likely bode badly for fair elections for people of any political party except Republicans.

Chairman Redfern on Ohio Republican Voter Disenfranchisement

In the final 3 days of the 2008 early election cycle under former Ohio Democratic Secretary of State Judith Bruner, 93,000 people voted from all parties. However, during the 2004 election under former Ohio Republican Secretary of State Kenneth Blackwell, 15,000 voters in Franklin County in the city of Columbus went home because they were unable to continue waiting in line to cast a ballot.

It is clear that early voting the last 3 days before the official election insures there are less lines and that working people can vote outside of working hours. That is why it makes no sense that Ohio Secretary of State Husted would then eliminate the last 3 days of early voting which includes a necessary week-end that would make it easier for voters to cast a ballot in person, especially if they work on election day. Also, allowing voters to cast a ballot 3 days before the election on November 6, 2012 will free up polls and insure voters will not necessarily have to wait long hours to cast a vote on election day. It seems Ohio Secretary of State Jon Husted should rethink his decision if he really cares about the freedom of all Americans to be able to cast a ballot.

Mr. Husted should realize that the Ohio election is being watched carefully by all Americans and people around the world to see if he takes tips from Ken Blackwell or if he charts his own course to truly act in a non-partisan fashion to protect every citizen’s vote. It is time to get beyond the party partisanship and allow Americans to decide who they want for their elected representatives, instead of rigging an election in oh so many dirty trick ways out of the Karl Rove handbook of dirty tricks.

Bill Moyers Essay: Share Your Stories of Voter Suppression

Bill Moyers encourages Americans to stand up and stop voter suppression.

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