[Marxism] Southern voting irregularities

Louis Proyect lnp3 at panix.com
Wed Nov 10 10:32:01 MST 2004

F A C I N G   S O U T H

A progressive Southern news report

November 10, 2004 – Issue 96

Facing South is published 40 times a year by the Institute for Southern 
Studies and Southern Exposure magazine. Support an independent and 
progressive voice from the South -- contribute at 
www.southernstudies.org today!

 >> INSTITUTE INDEX – Elections by Numbers
 >> DATELINE: THE SOUTH – Top Stories Around the Region
 >> FACING SOUTH INVESTIGATIONS – Election Report from Ohio
 >> FORUM - Where to from here?


INSTITUTE INDEX – Elections by Numbers

Amount by which number of voters aged 18-29 increased from 2000 to 2004, 
in millions: 4.6
Percent of Latinos in the South that voted for President Bush: 64
Estimated cost of 2004 Congressional and Presidential elections, in 
billions: 3.9
Percent of House races in which the candidate who spent the most money 
won: 96
Percent of Senate races in which the biggest spender won: 91
Number of votes for Sen. John Kerry for President in Southern states in 
2004, in millions: 9.8
Number of Southern Electoral College votes that will go to Sen. Kerry: 0

Sources on file at the Institute for Southern Studies.

DATELINE: THE SOUTH – Top Stories Around the Region

A national voting rights group said it documented hundreds of voting 
irregularities affecting poor and minority voters in seven Southern 
states - from long lines and faulty equipment to deliberate voter 
intimidation. "While the United States of America is a strong democracy, 
it is also a flawed democracy," said Keith Jennings, director of Count 
Every Vote 2004. (Associated Press, 11/6)

In 2004, African Americans voted in record numbers to unseat President 
Bush -- although in swing state Ohio, Bush garnered 16% of the black 
vote, up 9% from 2004. Latino voters were more unpredictable. Exit polls 
show 64% of Latinos in the South voted for the incumbent, yet Latino 
support for Bush in the North, Midwest and California was lower, for a 
national average of around 45%. (Newhouse News, 11/7)

The number of voters aged 18-29 increased by 4.6 million from 2000 to 
2004. Yet because overall turnout increased, their share of the 
electorate remained roughly the same. (Washington Post, 11/9)

On Nov. 2 voters in Florida approved a ballot initiative to increase the 
state's minimum wage by a dollar over the federal level and annually 
indexed every year. Economists say that the measure, which won with 71% 
of voter support, will not only directly increase wages for 33,000 state 
workers, but positively impact over 300,000 workers making near that 
amount. (Orlando Sentinel, 11/4)

Election officials in Carteret County are scrambling after a machine 
malfunction destroyed 13 percent of the ballots. The incident may lead 
to a special election in the state superintendent race that currently 
has Democrat June Atkinson ahead of Republican Bill Fletcher by more 
than 2,000 votes. The state Board of Elections discovered on election 
night that 4,532 electronic ballots through early voting were not 
recorded. (WRAL, 11/8)

FACING SOUTH INVESTIGATIONS – Election 2004 Coverage: Ohio

[Editors note: Given the intense interest in the swing-state of Ohio, in 
this issue of Facing South, investigative reporter Jordan Green looks at 
two critical issues from this year's elections: controversy over a Jim 
Crow-era law in the state that allows challengers to intimidate voters 
at the polls, and how  provisional ballots may have impacted the 
election. For other special Facing South/Southern Exposure 
investigations into the 2004 elections, please visit 

Cincinnati Lawsuit Takes on Jim Crow-Era Vote Challenger Law

By Jordan Green
November 8, 2004

In the last days before Election Day, Republican officials in the border 
state of Ohio finalized plans to deploy hundreds of election observers 
to challenge voters in Democratic-leaning precincts. The Democratic 
Party readied its own observers to make sure the Republican observers 
wouldn’t disenfranchise eligible voters.

Meanwhile, African Americans in the Buckeye State, mindful of a history 
in which blacks as a minority voting bloc have been the target of vote 
suppression campaigns in close races, braced for intimidation and 
harassment at the polls.

Blacks had good reason to fear Republican efforts to suppress the vote. 
The week before Election Day, the state Republican Party announced it 
had a list of 35,000 registered Democrats suspected of being ineligible 
to vote, many of them black. The Republicans created the list by mailing 
cards to newly-registered voters and counting the pieces of mail 
returned because of a wrong address.

Republicans had publicized a plan to deploy hundreds of challengers to 
polling places in predominantly black precincts in Cincinnati, according 
to a lawsuit filed on Oct. 27 by veteran Cincinnati civil rights 
activists Marian and Donald Spencer. A map of Columbus precincts where 
the GOP announced it would send challengers, published three days before 
the election by The Columbus Dispatch, showed a discriminatory pattern. 
The precincts with the second and third highest number of challenged 
voters are 66 percent and 76 percent black, respectively. (Ohio 
Republicans have been reluctant to discuss their efforts, and numerous 
calls requesting comment for this story to party officials, a spokesman, 
and a lawyer were not returned.)

Ohio’s “challenger” law is a relic of the Jim Crow era, originally 
passed in the 19th century to guard the ballot box against whites who 
might have traces of African ancestry. Ohio Revised Code 3505.20, in its 
current form, allows any eligible voter to challenge another voter’s 
qualifications without presenting any evidence of wrongdoing.

Read the full report at http://www.southernstudies.org/


Ohio’s Provisional Ballots: The State of Play

By Jordan Green
November 9, 2004

George W. Bush won Ohio by 136,483 votes, a solid enough margin that 
Senator John Kerry and all but a handful of Democratic partisans felt 
compelled to concede defeat. The armies of Democratic and Republican 
lawyers that had been preparing for a fight over the status of every 
last provisional ballot demobilized.

Americans have been spared another months-long ordeal of post-election 
partisan warfare similar what happened in Florida in 2000, but election 
law experts say ambiguous rules on how provisional ballots are issued 
and counted could still create chaos if they aren’t resolved before the 
next federal election.

“We came much too close for comfort this time around,” wrote Loyola 
University law professor Richard L. Hasen Nov. 4 on Law.com. “If the 
Ohio margin had been 36,000 votes instead of around 136,000 (a small 
difference in percentage terms), we would have seen a battle royal over 
the 130,000 + provisional and absentee ballots that were yet to be 
processed and counted in the next week and a half.”

Read the full report at http://www.southernstudies.org/

FORUM - Where To From Here?

Do the November 2 elections have you thinking about how progressives can 
turn around their fortunes in the South?

What are your ideas? How can progressives win in the region? Will it 
take a better message? Better organizing? Other things?

Please send your thoughts, tomes, rants, or other ideas to 
facingsouth at southernstudies.org. We'll feature highlights from you and 
others in upcoming editions of Facing South.

We look forward to hearing from you!

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