I was reading an editorial from the Washington Times (reported on the Fox News Web site) about alleged voter intimidation on the part of the New Black Panther Party for Self Defense. Now, it’s blind-as-a-bat obvious why Fox News would highlight such an editorial (it attempts to paint President Obama and his administration in a negative light, it highlights black extremists and it attempts to frighten white conservatives). It’s very likely this is the same reason the Washington Times, a very conservative-leaning newspaper, also would run such an editorial. Trust me. You do not have to read too deep into the editorial to see the strong right-wing lean of the paper (or, at the very least, its editorial board).
Now, that being said … I do not in any way, shape or form condone acts of voter intimidation or acts to purposely and unfairly disenfranchise voters. I didn’t like it when it happened in Florida and elsewhere in 2000, either. However, it’s difficult to respect the Washington Times editorial since it flat out poo-poos voter intimidation and voter disenfranchisement in Florida in 2000 (as one example) and throws a fit about the Black Panthers.
The editorial would have far more credibility if it did not go out of its way to blow off all the people who were blown off in Florida in 2000 (including thousands who were inaccurately labeled as criminals and were not allowed to vote). Voting intimidation is wrong … whether it favors Democrats or Republicans.
Lets balance it out.
Consider this (as just one small example from the Web site Project Vote):
The most flagrant example of voter intimidation is the commission of violence, or the threat of violence, against a particular group of voters. Polling places in low-income, minority, and heavily Democratic areas may be targeted for vandalism or destruction, causing both psychological and physical impediments to voting. Voters are also intimidated when they are informed falsely that, for example, they will be arrested at the polling place if they owe child support or have outstanding parking tickets.
Economic voter intimidation also exists, where an employer or supervisor threatens a person’s job if he votes for a particular candidate or party against the wishes of the company or union. Former felons suffer intimidation when they are told that they are ineligible to vote when they are eligible or banning non-felons due to record-keeping errors. Conversely, in Florida during the 2000 presidential election, almost 20,000 people with names similar to felons were disenfranchised when an error-ridden list of “felons” was used to bar them from voting. In the 2004 presidential election, voters received phone calls with false information about changes in voting locations or misinforming them that they should vote on Wednesday instead of Tuesday.
Here is another example from Project Vote:
The 2008 presidential election was one of the most competitive elections in our history, which led to many instances of voter intimidation. For example:
- In October 2008, the ACLU of New Mexico and Project Vote filed a lawsuit charging a Republican New Mexico State Representative and a private investigator with voter intimidation and invasion of privacy. Newly-registered minority voters were declared in a press conference by the NM State Representative to have fraudulently voted in the state primary elections. A private investigator was later hired by a party official to go to the homes of these voters and interrogate them about their citizenship status.
- After a rally in Fayetteville, North Carolina, supporters of Barack Obama went to a nearby early voting center, where they were heckled and harassed by a group of protesters as they went in to vote. Nearly all of the early voters were black, and nearly all of the protesters were white.
- In Virginia, students at Virginia Tech were told that if they registered to vote in Virginia, it could affect their scholarship or tax dependency status and would obligate them to change their car registration and driver’s license to their permanent address.
- Finally, a poll worker in Dearborn, Michigan was perceived to be intimidating Muslim Americans, of which Dearborn has a large concentration. Two Michigan precincts also reported the presence of police scanning the long lines for voters with outstanding warrants, with one person being arrested.
It happens all the time, but Fox News and the Washington Times should be more consistent and balanced in coverage and opinion