For example, on news that Democrats are doing well in early voting, a major force in the tea party movement -- FreedomWorks CEO Dick Armey -- went on Fox News to declare that it was a sign that blacks are stealing the election.
Get that? We've got to be on the lookout for voter fraud, which is "pinpointed to the major urban areas. The inner city."
"Republicans and others on the right, as we've reported extensively, often make high-pitched claims of Democrat-operated voter fraud, arguing that Dems focus on minority areas," writes Rachel Slajda for Talking Points Memo. "Such claims rarely bare out, but the fear of voter fraud can lead to voter suppression."
Part of tea party and Republican worries (can we stop pretending there's a real difference between the two?) is that polling shows that black voters are just as excited about 2010 as they were about 2008, when that demographic turned out in record numbers. "I really believe that that is what is going to be the secret weapon here," South Carolina Democrat and member of the Congressional Black Caucus Rep. James Clyburn said of African-American turnout. "That is the unknown to a lot of people."
And it's an unknown the GOP/tea party isn't very comfortable with. In Wisconsin, the tea party had a plan to practice voter caging in largely minority areas and among students, which violates the National Voter Rights Act of 1993. In Illinois, Mark Kirk was caught on tape discussing plans to send "voter integrity" squads to "vulnerable" -- i.e., mostly African-American -- districts in his race for Senate. And of course, there's the already infamous "Don't Vote" ad, urging hispanics -- who vote overwhelmingly Democrat -- to stay home to send a message on immigration reform.
But, so far, the worst has been in Texas, where incumbent wingnut Governor Rick Perry is in a surprisingly tight race with Democrat. Perry will still probably win, but why take chances?
Voter intimidation in Houston is so egregious that the Justice Department has stepped in.
Harris County [where the video report was recorded] is the same county where a suspicious arson over the summer knocked out most of the electronic voting machines. It contains Houston, the state's largest city, a majority African-American area, and home to Bill White, former mayor and current candidate against Rick Perry for Governor.
The group "True the Vote," made up of tea partiers, operates as a voter suppression brigade, recruiting poll watchers in Harris County over fears of "voter fraud," the same tactic used every year by the right to minimize votes from core Democratic constituencies. All of the reports being investigated by the DoJ took place in early voting sites in predominantly African-American and Hispanic areas. Some of the eyewitness reports can be found here.
In the Tea Party, Republican operatives have found a willing group of poll watchers who actually believe all the stories about ACORN stealing elections and the like. So this is a combustible mix...
You know what would be a great way to dispel accusations of racism? Stop shrieking about it being a smear and just quit being so goddam racist.
You never know, it just might work.
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