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Suppress the Vote?
NY Times ^ | August 16, 2004 | BOB HERBERT

Posted on 08/15/2004 9:16:43 PM PDT by neverdem

The big story out of Florida over the weekend was the tragic devastation caused by Hurricane Charley. But there's another story from Florida that deserves our attention.

State police officers have gone into the homes of elderly black voters in Orlando and interrogated them as part of an odd "investigation" that has frightened many voters, intimidated elderly volunteers and thrown a chill over efforts to get out the black vote in November.

The officers, from the Florida Department of Law Enforcement, which reports to Gov. Jeb Bush, say they are investigating allegations of voter fraud that came up during the Orlando mayoral election in March.

Officials refused to discuss details of the investigation, other than to say that absentee ballots are involved. They said they had no idea when the investigation might end, and acknowledged that it may continue right through the presidential election.

"We did a preliminary inquiry into those allegations and then we concluded that there was enough evidence to follow through with a full criminal investigation," said Geo Morales, a spokesman for the Department of Law Enforcement.

The state police officers, armed and in plain clothes, have questioned dozens of voters in their homes. Some of those questioned have been volunteers in get-out-the-vote campaigns.

I asked Mr. Morales in a telephone conversation to tell me what criminal activity had taken place.

"I can't talk about that," he said.

I asked if all the people interrogated were black.

"Well, mainly it was a black neighborhood we were looking at - yes,'' he said.

He also said, "Most of them were elderly."

When I asked why, he said, "That's just the people we selected out of a random sample to interview."

Back in the bad old days, some decades ago, when Southern whites used every imaginable form of chicanery to prevent blacks from voting, blacks often fought back by creating voters leagues, which were organizations that helped to register, educate and encourage black voters. It became a tradition that continues in many places, including Florida, today.

Not surprisingly, many of the elderly black voters who found themselves face to face with state police officers in Orlando are members of the Orlando League of Voters, which has been very successful in mobilizing the city's black vote.

The president of the Orlando League of Voters is Ezzie Thomas, who is 73 years old. With his demonstrated ability to deliver the black vote in Orlando, Mr. Thomas is a tempting target for supporters of George W. Bush in a state in which the black vote may well spell the difference between victory and defeat.

The vile smell of voter suppression is all over this so-called investigation by the Florida Department of Law Enforcement.

Joseph Egan, an Orlando lawyer who represents Mr. Thomas, said: "The Voters League has workers who go into the community to do voter registration, drive people to the polls and help with absentee ballots. They are elderly women mostly. They get paid like $100 for four or five months' work, just to offset things like the cost of their gas. They see this political activity as an important contribution to their community. Some of the people in the community had never cast a ballot until the league came to their door and encouraged them to vote."

Now, said Mr. Egan, the fear generated by state police officers going into people's homes as part of an ongoing criminal investigation related to voting is threatening to undo much of the good work of the league. He said, "One woman asked me, 'Am I going to go to jail now because I voted by absentee ballot?' "

According to Mr. Egan, "People who have voted by absentee ballot for years are refusing to allow campaign workers to come to their homes. And volunteers who have participated for years in assisting people, particularly the elderly or handicapped, are scared and don't want to risk a criminal investigation."

Florida is a state that's very much in play in the presidential election, with some polls showing John Kerry in the lead. A heavy-handed state police investigation that throws a blanket of fear over thousands of black voters can only help President Bush.

The long and ugly tradition of suppressing the black vote is alive and thriving in the Sunshine State.

TOPICS: Crime/Corruption; Editorial; Government; News/Current Events; Politics/Elections; US: Florida
KEYWORDS: 2004electionbias; 2004electionfraud; blacks; blackvote; bushbashing; bushhater; dnctalkingpoints; florida; floriduh; govbush; jebbush; kerrycampaign; kerryscampaign; layoffthecokebob; mediabias; playingtheracecard; racebaiting; racialdivision; reportersondrugs; votersuppression; votingrequirements
Voter intimidation, my butt! If they didn't do anything illegal, what are they worrying about?
1 posted on 08/15/2004 9:16:43 PM PDT by neverdem
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To: neverdem

Just like the left. Any attempt to stop their rampant voter fraud, or God forbid punish the criminal involved, is "voter intimidation".

2 posted on 08/15/2004 9:18:32 PM PDT by swilhelm73 (When Saddam Hussein ruled Iraq, his son murdered 2,000 people in the Abu Gharib prison in *one* day.)
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To: neverdem

The Leftist hit pieces keep coming in...and in different flavors.

3 posted on 08/15/2004 9:18:44 PM PDT by Prime Choice (The press is no longer free. Its bias exacts a heavy price with every report.)
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To: neverdem

Bob Herbert, black leftist activist is not a reporter, he is a columnist.

4 posted on 08/15/2004 9:20:32 PM PDT by GeronL (Viking Kitties have won the GOLD MEDAL in the 2,000 meter ZOTTING)
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To: neverdem

So the police interviewing a few people to ferret out voter fraud is somehow a racist suppression of the black vote? Wake up folks, this is the disgusting racial incident the democrats were going to manufacture. Herbert is their idiotic mouthpiece. how could he possibly know that the police investigating a few people is a racist intimidation? This is designed to protect the voter fraud, and to spur black voting for Kerry.

5 posted on 08/15/2004 9:23:44 PM PDT by Williams
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To: neverdem
This is satarizing the left wing right?
6 posted on 08/15/2004 9:24:22 PM PDT by Reagan79 (Bush - Cheney 2004, Now More Than Ever!)
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To: neverdem
This is an investigation into voter fraud. Did they break the law, or did they not?
Just because they're a certain nationality doesn't mean they're exempt from the law, although democrats would like to tell you that's the case.

Political correctness is the lefts fascist attempt to silence any dissent. Because those folks are probably democrat voters, they're automatically innocent of any crime. Anyone who questions their automatic innocence will be labeled a racist.

7 posted on 08/15/2004 9:36:13 PM PDT by concerned about politics ( Liberals are still stuck at the bottom of Maslow's Hierarchy)
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To: concerned about politics
Those dad-blamed Bush brothers are to blame for this Hurricane, and I know they did it to suppress the poor black voters in Florida.....AND, the timing of this hurricane is VEEERRRY suspicious........
8 posted on 08/15/2004 9:38:48 PM PDT by Viet-Boat-Rider (KERRY IS A NARCISSISTIC LIAR, GOLDBRICKER, AND TRAITOR!)
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To: GeronL

Bob Hebert is the poster-child for affirmative action.

9 posted on 08/15/2004 9:41:25 PM PDT by Extremely Extreme Extremist
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To: neverdem

Laying the ground work...

10 posted on 08/15/2004 9:49:02 PM PDT by THX 1138
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To: neverdem
He said, "One woman asked me, 'Am I going to go to jail now because I voted by absentee ballot?' "

Depends on how many times you did it (in one election).

11 posted on 08/15/2004 10:01:20 PM PDT by knuthom
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To: neverdem

The propaganda never ends. DESPICABLE!

12 posted on 08/15/2004 10:05:01 PM PDT by ladyinred (What if the hokey pokey IS what it's all about?)
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To: knuthom

Here in Houston I can vote early at the polls (up to 30 days early) with no questions asked as to "why" but if I wanted to send in an absentee ballot, I would have to meet any of a number of criteria to be elligible to do so.

13 posted on 08/16/2004 1:21:48 AM PDT by weegee (YOU could have been aborted, and you wouldn't have had a CHOICE about it.)
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To: neverdem

I seem to remember something about Klintoon getting busted in Arkansas for suppressing black voters, when he was running for Governor. (You never heard about that? Wonder why?)

And wasn't it Robert Byrd, DemocRAT, who was a KKKKlucker.

And which current President has TWO black cabinet members.

And in New York, did the NY DemocRats back thier own Carl McCall, who happens to be black? Nah, they backed a whitey, out of the party.

Yet we, conservatives, get continually spun in the Press, as racists. Sheesh, when does it end?

14 posted on 08/16/2004 7:24:34 AM PDT by clyde260 (Public Enemy #1: Network News!)
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To: neverdem

15 posted on 08/16/2004 12:16:07 PM PDT by Libertarian444
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To: clyde260

And which current President is the current President?

16 posted on 08/16/2004 12:20:35 PM PDT by lugsoul (Until at last I threw down my enemy and smote his ruin on the mountainside.)
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