by Bob Geary
Last week I wrote in the Indy about early voting as an antidote to Republican efforts to obstruct the voting process.
I mentioned the Republican Party's post-1965 history of "ballot security" campaigns to discourage minority voters, as in Florida 2000 and Ohio 2004. if space permitted, I'd have gone back to my first experience with voter suppression, which was Tony Imperiale and his armed Italian-American Republicans "guarding' the polls in Newark, New Jersey in the 1970s.
I did mention the billboards in minority communities warning residents about the penalties for voter fraud.
So over the weekend we've had these stories.
* In The New Republic, the Republicans are at it again in Ohio trying to keep blacks from voting.
* Meanwhile, Clear Channel used billboards in minority neighborhoods of Cleveland, Columbus and other Ohio cities to warn about the penalties for voter fraud.
Clear Channel is the communications behemoth known for, among other things, backing the War on Iraq to the hilt and blacklisting the Dixie Chicks when their lead singer spoke out in opposition to it.
Then there are the scattered, but numerous cases of phone calls to voters, especially senior citizens, with misleading information about voting hours and/or requirements, plus the efforts in states (e.g., Pennsylvania) where photo ID requirements were blocked to "inform" voters that a photo ID may be needed anyway.
Voting is our right, one that should be simple to exercise. Instead, more than one in three adults eligible to vote in the United States will not do so.
Voter suppression is just one reason for that sad statistic. But in a two-party system in which razor-tight elections are the norm, a voter suppression campaign that trims one side's vote by even 1 percent in one state is dangerous and can turn an election around. And these campaigns are not just in one state, they're in every battleground state, including Ohio, Florida, Virginia — and yes, North Carolina.