8 Disturbing Examples of Voter Suppression in America

Rights, News

Many people assume that voter fraud is only a problem in the third world. They couldn’t be more wrong.

Voter suppression and fraud occur disturbingly often in America (even though they’re illegal), and many times they’re either unreported or quickly swept under the rug.  Indeed, for an inestimable number of Americans, the right to vote is a fight still in progress.

While there have literally been thousands of claims of voter suppression and voter fraud efforts, we decided to highlight 8 of them that we find to be particularly shocking.

1. King Street Patriots use doctored photos and attack nonprofit voter registration effort—As you’re reading this, a huge battle is brewing in Houston over charges of voter suppression, voter fraud, and even arson. It all started when  the Harris County Voter Registrar Leo Vasquez and King Street Patriots, a right-wing group, began raising allegations of voter fraud against nonprofit voter registration group Houston Votes. They claimed the organization turned in more than 5,000 fraudulent voter applications.

Whether these claims are true or not remains to be seen, but it didn’t take long for Houston Votes to fire back with allegations of voter suppression by King Street Patriots. The right-wing group was caught using a doctored photo in one of their videos. The edited photo showed an African-American woman at a rally with a sign that had been changed from “Don’t Mess With Our Vote,” to read, “I Only Got to Vote Once.”

As for the arson, while this dispute was heating up (no pun intended) a mysterious fire suddenly destroyed a huge collection of voting machines in Harris County. Arson investigators have yet to comment on the issue.

2. Flyer scares young voters away with claims of undercover police making arrests at polls—During the 2008 elections, flyers were spread around Drexel University in Philadelphia warning students that undercover police would be at the polls on Election Day making arrests for anyone who has warrants or outstanding traffic offenses. The effort was designed to scare people away from the polls.

3. Ballot Security Task Force patrols voting stations with guns and intimidating warning signs—Back in the 80s, one of the most famous cases of voter suppression took place in New Jersey during the gubernatorial election. The National Ballot Security Task Force, a group setup by the Republican National Committee, patrolled polling sites in black and Hispanic neighborhoods of Newark and Trenton. The group consisted of armed, off-duty police officers who would challenge and question voters and in some cases block their paths to the polls.

4. Fake voicemail messages tell voters they aren’t registered—In 2006, many Virginia voters received fake voicemail messages from the state elections commission stating that the voters were registered in other states and would be arrested if they tried to vote in Virginia.

5. New Black Panther Party brandishes billy clubs at Philadelphia polling station—An amateur video shot in November 2008 at a Philadelphia polling station displayed a shocking scene in which a group from the New Black Panther Party was brandishing clubs and intimidating voters who weren’t there to support Obama. The leader of the Black Panthers defended his group and said those people on the video were acting “outside of organizational policy.” After the Obama administration dropped the cases, one prominent Justice Department official quit, stating superiors instructed attorneys to ignore cases that involved black defendants and white victims.

6. Democrat activist uncovers more than 2000 claims of voter fraud against Obama campaign—Democratic activist Gigi Gaston made the documentary film We Will Not Be Silenced in 2008 after she noticed numerous complaints of voter suppression against the Obama administration during the Democratic primaries. According to the film, there were over 2,000 claims of voter fraud against the Obama campaign, including allowing unregistered people to vote, intimidating Hillary Clinton voters, locking people out of voting places, and much more.

7. Colorado illegally purges voters within 90 days of election—Colorado was called out for illegally purging voters off the rolls within 90 days of an election, during which time only voters who’ve moved out of state, die, or are declared mentally ill may be purged. 7,000 total voters were purged, and only 20% of those had died or moved out of state.

8. Judge rules Montana Republican Party had “the express intent to disenfranchise voters”—In October 2008, the Montana Republican Party challenged the registration of 6,000 voters—mostly young voters and Native Americans. A judge ruled that the party had challenged the voters with “the express intent to disenfranchise voters.”

Can you recall any other noteworthy examples of voter suppression and voter fraud? Share your stories by leaving a comment.