News Release

New Evidence of Voter Blacklist in Florida?


Sancho, the Supervisor of Elections for Leon County in Florida, said today: “The possibility of a statewide program to ‘challenge’ African-American voters in Florida on Election Day raises the specter of obstruction, chaos, and ultimately, voter disenfranchisement. During a recent interview, investigative journalist Greg Palast showed me a list of hundreds of African-American citizens registered to vote in Jacksonville. He told me the list came from the Republican Party.”

Sancho added: “Florida has a seldom-used voter challenge provision in its elections laws, allowing partisan poll watchers to challenge voters coming in to vote. In the 16 years I have been conducting elections in Leon County this provision has never been used. My fear is that this outdated provision in Florida may not be properly applied and [will] prevent legal voters from voting. Before a challenge is brought, the poll watcher must provide specific reasons or evidence for the challenge. While conducting training classes for the Democratic and Republican poll watchers, I instructed them that no challenge would be accepted in Leon County without tangible evidence. But this provision of Florida law is seldom used and may not be applied properly by stressed-out precinct workers on Election Day. I fear that a coordinated effort to racially target voters in Florida could overwhelm the resources we have at our voting precincts, shutting down the voting process for thousands of voters.”
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Journalist Palast said today: “A secret document obtained from inside Bush campaign headquarters in Florida suggests a plan — apparently in violation of U.S. law — to disrupt voting in the state’s African-American voting districts. Two emails, prepared for the executive director of the Bush campaign in Florida and the campaign’s national research director in Washington, D.C., contain a 15-page so-called ‘caging list.’ It lists 1,886 names and addresses of voters in predominantly black and traditionally Democrat areas of Jacksonville, Florida. Such racial profiling in challenging voters is a direct violation of the U.S. Voting Rights Act. At least 50 persons on the list are in the military, most stationed at the Naval Air Station in Jacksonville. They now face challenge because some, like Randall Prausa of Atlantic Beach, have been shipped overseas.”

Palast added: “This appears to be part of a massive Republican campaign to intimidate black voters. And indeed, we also discovered surveillance teams filming black voters, wrongful purging of black voters from voter rolls and fraudulent registration forms — all orchestrated by Republican officials or party functionaries. While vote fraud is not the monopoly of one party, we are uncovering a pattern of targeting the African-American community by the Bush-Cheney campaign.”

On October 26, the BBC News website reported the following by Palast: “The list of Jacksonville voters covers an area with a majority of black residents. … An elections supervisor in Tallahassee, when shown the list, told [BBC] Newsnight: ‘The only possible reason why they would keep such a thing is to challenge voters on Election Day.’ … When asked by Newsnight for an explanation of the list, Republican spokespersons claim the list merely records returned mail from either fundraising solicitations or returned letters sent to newly registered voters to verify their addresses for purposes of mailing campaign literature. Republican state campaign spokeswoman Mindy Tucker Fletcher stated the list was not put together ‘in order to create’ a challenge list, but refused to say it would not be used in that manner. Rather, she did acknowledge that the party’s poll workers will be instructed to challenge voters, ‘Where it’s stated in the law.’ There was no explanation as to why such clerical matters would be sent to top officials of the Bush campaign in Florida and Washington.”
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For more information, contact at the Institute for Public Accuracy:
Sam Husseini, (202) 347-0020; or David Zupan, (541) 484-9167