While members of the Election Protection Coalition work overtime to protect the vote, other groups allegedly are scheming to suppress the vote in the name of “voter fraud.”
Fox News and the New Black Panthers kerfuffle notwithstanding, there have been few cases of voter fraud. Still, election after election, conservative groups the “voter fraud racket” rolls out “election integrity” campaigns.
This time, some poll watchers may have crossed the line.
The New York Times reports:
Tea Party members have started challenging voter registration applications and have announced plans to question individual voters at the polls whom they suspect of being ineligible.
In response, liberal groups and voting rights advocates are sounding an alarm, claiming that such strategies are scare tactics intended to suppress minority and poor voters.
Wendy Weiser, deputy director of the Democracy Program at the Brennan Center for Justice at New York University School of Law, told the Times:
Private efforts to police the polls create a real risk of vote suppression, regardless of their intents. People need to know that any form of discrimination, intimidation or challenge to voters without adequate basis is illegal or improper.
I’m all for civic engagement, but voter intimidation is not my cup of tea.
If you encounter a problem at the poll, don’t lose your cool. Keep in mind the following (h/t Eddie Hailes of the Advancement Project):
You have the right to be treated with respect at the polling place, and privacy in your vote. Valid poll watchers can observe what is happening at and inside the polling place, but they cannot speak to you, ask you for ID, or interact directly with you. They cannot watch when you are completing the ballot or being assisted by a person of your choice.
Do not let poll watchers or others outside the polling place interfere with your vote! You do not have to listen to or talk to them, and you should not rely on what they may say about voting rules. They are not election officials and they may be giving out WRONG information.
If you or other voters are being harassed or subject to improper behavior by poll watchers or others at the polling place, tell the nearest election official. You can also get help by calling 1-866-OUR-VOTE (1-866-687-8683).
Remember, voters whose eligibility is questioned are entitled to vote by provisional ballot.
Make your vote count.
UPDATE: USA Today published my letter to the editor about the perilous state of the machinery of our democracy.