"Past Shenanigans" on Election Day Discouraging Blacks from Voting

Is the GOP engaging in voter suppression in black communities?

A Friday front-page story from Ian Urbina assumes the validity of paranoid rumors about the disenfranchisement of blacks ("Democrats Fear Disillusionment In Black Voters - A Crucial Group, Wary of Electoral Mischief").

"But despite a generally buoyant Democratic Party nationally, there are worries among Democratic strategists in some states that blacks may not turn up at the polls in big enough numbers because of disillusionment over past shenanigans."

"'This notion that elections are stolen and that elections are rigged is so common in the public sphere that we're having to go out of our way to counter them this year,' said Donna Brazile, a Democratic strategist.

"This will be the first midterm election in which the Democratic Party is mobilizing teams of lawyers and poll watchers, to check for irregularities including suppression of the black vote, in at least a dozen of the closest districts, Ms. Brazile said.

"Democrats' worries are backed up by a Pew Research Center report that found that blacks were twice as likely now than they were in 2004 to say they had little or no confidence in the voting system, rising to 29 percent from 15 percent.

"And more than three times as many blacks as whites - 29 percent versus 8 percent - say they do not believe that their vote will be accurately tallied.

"Voting experts say the disillusionment is the cumulative effect of election problems in 2000 and 2004, and a reaction to new identification and voter registration laws.

"Long lines and shortages of poll workers in lower-income neighborhoods in the 2004 election and widespread reports of fliers with misinformation appearing in minority areas have also had a corrosive effect on confidence, experts say."

Urbina could have touched on the point made by Thomas Lifson at The American Thinker: "Long lines at polling places with large numbers of black voters are the responsibility of local election officials, mostly Democrats in heavily black areas."

One of Urbina's experts comes with lots of unacknowledged political baggage: "Ronald Walters, director of the African American Leadership Institute at the University of Maryland said the reason for the rise in black voters' cynicism could be summed up in a single word: confirmation.

"Mr. Walters said that episodes of voter suppression that were dismissed in 2000 as unfounded recurred in 2004 and were better documented because rights groups dispatched thousands of lawyers and poll watchers. In addition, the first national data-tracking tool, the Election Incident Reporting System, offered a national hot line that fed a database of what ended up to be 40,000 problems."

But apparently the hotline merely recorded 40,000 "election incident reports" (not necessarily verified "problems," as the Times implies, just complaints which may or may not have been valid).

Here's some helpful background info on Walters, who was quoted as saying, in a news story accusing Bush of a tardy response to Hurricane Katrina: "White life has always been more valuable than black life." Walters is also a supporter of reparations for slavery.