Sec. of Virginia State Board of Elections Finds Widespread Incidents of Voter Suppression
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By Newswire Services
November 06, 2006
Threats of Incarceration, Changed Polling Locations, and Fliers to “Skip the Election.”
Over the past several days, voters throughout the Commonwealth of Virginia have filed complaints of incidents aimed at suppressing voter turn out in heavily Democratic and African American neighborhoods. Today, the Secretary of the Virginia State Board of Elections Jean Jensen concluded that the incidents appear widespread and deliberate.
“There are now credible reports from multiple jurisdictions around the Commonwealth that establish a pattern of dirty tricks being employed to confuse and frustrate Virginia's voters from exercising their right to vote tomorrow. In addition to reports that have been received by the Democratic Party of Virginia, these local election officials have been receiving reports from concerned voters,” said Jack Young, co-chair of Promote the Vote.
Jay Myerson, General Counsel of the Democratic Party of Virginia noted the irony that our troops are fighting to create democracy in Iraq at a time when those very rights are being tested here at home. Myerson and Young urged voters to recognize that voting precincts are not changed by telephone calls and called upon the U.S. Department of Justice to vigorously investigate these matters.
Documented incidents of suppression incidents include:
1) Calls that Voting will Lead to Arrest.
Tim Daly from Clarendon got a call saying that if he votes Tuesday, he will be arrested. A recording of his voicemail can be found online at: www.webbforsenate.com/media/phone_message.wav
The transcript from his voicemail reads:
“This message is for Timothy Daly. This is the Virginia Elections Commission. We've determined you are registered in New York to vote. Therefore, you will not be allowed to cast your vote on Tuesday. If you do show up, you will be charged criminally."
Daly has been registered to vote in Virginia since 1998, and he has voted for the last several cycles with no problem. He has filed a criminal complaint with the Commonwealth’s attorney in Arlington.
“This is a clear attempt to erroneously lead voters to believe they cannot participate in the Virginia election. Nothing is further from the truth. You have the right to vote in the Virginia election as long as you are a Virginia resident, registered to vote in Virginia and have not voted in any other general election this year. We’ve seen this tactic before and it is about time the Republicans learned that it will not work,” said Jay B. Myerson, General Counsel of the Democratic Party of Virginia.
2) Widespread Calls, Allegedly from “Webb Volunteers,” Telling Voters that their Polling Location has Changed.
A couple of examples:
a. Norman Cox has been registered to vote in the same location in Arlington since 1972. Someone from a 406 number (in Montana) called to tell him that his polling place has changed. [Note: The Webb Campaign is NOT making any such phone calls.] Cox said he believed that he was being mislead and the caller hung up.
b. Peter Baumann in Cape Charles, VA (North Hampton) got a similar call from a “Webb volunteer” saying his polling location had changed. He said: No, I’m a poll worker and I know where I vote. The girl—who was calling from California—hung up.
The Secretary of the State Board of Elections Jean Jensen has logged dozens of similar calls, finding heavy trends in Accomack County (middle peninsula) and Essex County (outer peninsula) [as reported by the counties’ registrars].
3) Fliers in Buckingham County Say “SKIP THIS ELECTION” (paid for by the RNC) have caused many in the African American community to call the Board of Elections to see if the election is still on. The full tag line says: “SKIP THIS ELECTION… (and then in smaller print): Don’t Let the Tax and Spend Liberals Win.”
“Intimidation of voters has no place in this or any election. The blatant attempts by Republicans to suppress the African American vote by saying: ‘SKIP THIS ELECTION’ is contrary to the democratic principles that govern our Commonwealth and we hope the world,” said Jack Young, the co-chair of Virginia Promote the Vote and a national voting rights expert.
4) Voter Machine Problems.
a. On many ballots in heavily Democratic neighborhoods, Jim’s name is cut off. The ballots say: “James H. (Jim)” with no Webb.
b. New reports that ballots in Essex County have Jim’s name split on 2 pages. The “James H (Jim)” on one page, “Webb” on the next.
c. Reports of voting machines in Isle of White that do not provide a clear image of the ballot, making voting a challenge.
Jay Myerson said “these are the reasons why the Democratic Party of Virginia since Mark Warner’s gubernatorial campaign has urged all voters to participate in the electoral process.” Myerson, as co-chair of the Virginia Promote the Vote, reiterated Virginia Promote the Vote’s “guarantee to the voters of Virginia: Your Right to Vote. We Guarantee It.”
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