News Release

Voter Suppression: The Long Shadow of Jim Crow

NATHAN RICHTER
PETER MONTGOMERY
JOHN WHITE
The NAACP and People for the American Way have recently released the report “The Long Shadow of Jim Crow: Voter Intimidation and Suppression in America.” John White is the director of communications at NAACP. People for the American Way Foundation President Ralph G. Neas said: “There is more than one way to deprive people of their right to vote, from systematic and technical problems to inadequate voter education to illegal actions by public officials. Although voter intimidation has not historically been confined to a single political party, we are increasingly concerned about recent incidents indicating that Republican officials may be planning to challenge voters this year based on race.” Richter is the senior communications specialist and Montgomery is the vice president for communications at People for the American Way. Richter said today: “In every national American election since Reconstruction, voters — particularly African American voters and other minorities — have faced calculated and determined efforts at intimidation and suppression. … Today, more subtle, cynical and creative tactics have taken their place. … Over the past two decades, the Republican Party has launched a series of ‘ballot security’ and ‘voter integrity’ initiatives which have targeted minority communities.”

Some incidents from the report include:

* This summer, Michigan state Rep. John Pappageorge (R) was quoted in the Detroit Free Press as saying, “If we do not suppress the Detroit vote, we’re going to have a tough time in this election.” African Americans comprise 83 percent of Detroit’s population.

* In South Dakota’s June 2004 primary, Native American voters were prevented from voting after they were challenged to provide photo IDs, which they were not required to present under state or federal law.

* In Kentucky in July 2004, black Republican officials joined to ask their State GOP party chairman to renounce plans to place “vote challengers” in African-American precincts during the coming elections.

* In 2003 in Philadelphia, voters in African American areas were systematically challenged by men carrying clipboards, driving a fleet of some 300 sedans with magnetic signs designed to look like law enforcement insignia.

* In 1998 in South Carolina, a state representative mailed 3,000 brochures to African American neighborhoods, claiming that law enforcement agents would be “working” the election, and warning voters that “this election is not worth going to jail.”

* Earlier this year in Texas, a local district attorney claimed that students at a majority black college were not eligible to vote in the county where the school is located. It happened in Waller County -­ the same county where 26 years earlier, a federal court order was required to prevent discrimination against the students.

For more information, contact at the Institute for Public Accuracy:
Sam Husseini, (202) 347-0020; or David Zupan, (541) 484-9167

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