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Wednesday, Nov. 24, 2004 05:04 am

common sense 11-25-04


One of the most despicable aspects of this year's presidential campaign was the deliberate, determined effort by the Republican Party to keep people from voting.

I don't just mean the notorious efforts in Florida by First Brother Jeb Bush to purge the voter rolls of thousands of eligible African-Americans; I'm also talking about tactics used all across the country to suppress the votes of people who tend to vote Democratic.

For example, before the election, U.S. Sen. Kit Bond, R-Mo., tried to sneak a provision into national law that would ban voter-registration drives in public-housing projects. Another sneak attack came on Election Day, when GOP election officials in key states such as Ohio simply shorted many Democratic precincts on the number of voting machines. The result was that voters faced long waits to get to cast their ballots -- lines snaked around city blocks, forcing people to wait seven, nine, or more hours. Uncounted thousands of people -- who, after all, have jobs and families to deal with -- were driven away from the polls by this artificial logjam.

Especially ugly was the kind of intimidation experienced in Milwaukee. Just before the election, a flier was distributed throughout two African-American voting wards by a fake group calling itself the Black Voters League. Here's some of what it said: "Some warnings for election time: If you've ever been found guilty of anything, even a traffic violation, you can't vote in the presidential election. . . If anybody in your family has ever been found guilty of anything, you can't vote in the presidential election. . . If you violate any of these laws, you can get 10 years in prison and your children will get taken away from you."

In America, everyone should be encouraged to vote. This is still America, isn't it?


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