Since 2009, a Tea Party organization called True the Vote has been stoking the recently ignited fervor for voter purges and voter ID requirements currently winding their way through state courts. The Houston-based group has involved itself in every major election in the past three years, purporting to defend election integrity from widespread voter fraud.
Wisconsin’s election to recall Gov. Scott Walker (R) was the most recent test drive for True the Vote’s vote suppression project. During the June recall election, a voting hotline received numerous calls from college students claiming True the Vote “poll observers” challenged their right to vote. These poll observers exploited a provision in the state’s new GOP-sponsored voter ID law to claim it was illegal for students home for the summer to vote in local precincts if they had been home for less than 28 days. Others were hassled for proof of residency.
Minority voters in Wisconsin also reported harassment by True the Vote’s white poll watchers, who took notes and watched as the predominantly black line of voters cast their ballots. When Walker survived the recall election, True the Vote congratulated their poll watchers on “a victory of their own making.”
So … if you can’t win, fuck with the voters. The Tea Party is a fucking disease.
When you can’t win on the issues, you have to cheat
Earlier this year, Republican Secretary of State Ruth Johnson decided to add a citizenship checkbox to the voter registration slip you have to fill out to vote. This entirely unnecessary step was seen by many as just one more attempt to freak out voters and dissuade them from voting. Governor Rick Snyder vetoed the legislation that required it but the checkbox was still on the slips, creating mass confusion.
Just what the Republicans wanted.
And it had the desired effect. During yesterday’s primary, voters around the state, LEGALvoters, were prevented from voting because they refused to check the offensive, unnecessary and illegal box.
From Michigan Radio:
Reports of voters being turned away because they declined to check a box asking them to verify U.S. citizenship have been coming in from several areas of the state.
Michigan Radio first became aware of the situation when talking to Michigan Campaign Finance Network’s Rich Robinson who said he was refused a ballot because he would not check the box. He refused because it is not legally required…
Other political groups received calls from voters complaining they had been refused the right to vote after declining to check the citizenship box.
MLive has more:
A ballot application check box asking Michigan voters to confirm their U.S. citizenship caused confusion at polling locations around the state this morning and prompted Secretary of State Ruth Johnson to send a clarifying directive to local election workers.
“Clerks were not clear on whether they could deny a ballot to a voter who refused to answer the question,” said attorney Jocelyn Benson, who spent her day fielding complaints for a national election-day hotline run by the Lawyers Committee for Civil Rights. “We’ve received calls from all over Michigan today, and we know that several voters were turned away.”
Johnson, who first ordered the citizenship check box to appear on the February presidential primary application, sent out a memo to local clerks around noon explaining that voters are not required to answer the question before receiving a ballot.
“If somebody misses it, a poll worker might ask them to fill it out,” said spokesman Fred Woodhams. “…But in a number of cases, people apparently refused to, and we clarified that they should still be issued a ballot.”
She issued the memo at noon but, by then, it was too late for many voters. The confusion continued on through the day and into the evening. On the First Shift with Tony Trupianoradio show this morning, political consultant Joe DiSano reported that even last evening he was being asked to check the form. When he refused, the election worker offered to fill it in for him. He declined, telling them that they didn’t have the right to do that. While he was in the booth voting, he was pulled out and read a statement Johnson required poll workers to read to those not checking the box:
Under the Michigan Constitution and election law, you must be a citizen of the United States in order to vote.
Again, scare tactics designed to freak people out enough to get some of them to just walk away.
In Detroit, voters were being frisked at one polling location by a man dressed in fatigues. I’m not kidding.