Voting in peril

Dealing with voting issues is a little tricky around here since they can come with partisan overtones. The ACLU is non-partisan: Both Republicans and Democrats annoy us.

When it comes to voting, we like to follow a relatively simple philosophy. Access to the ballot box should be as easy as possible.

And that’s why it’s hard to ignore some of the disturbing stories that have come out in the last week or so.

First comes a report from Truthout that OH election officials have sent a mailing marked “Do Not Forward” to registered voters. Federal law prohibits striking voters from the rolls within 90 days of an election, but if the mailing is returned automatically, the voter could be challenged by partisan hacks. This is the kind of thing that can happen to college students and members of the military, and it is typically targeted at minorities.

Ohio did this in March, and 600,000 voters were purged from the rolls.

This is called “caging”, and we’ve talked about voter caging before.

Now there is this report from Greg Palast, the lone watchdog of voter caging, according to Salon, who works with Robert F. Kennedy, Jr., on this issue.

In swing-state Colorado, the Republican Secretary of State conducted the biggest purge of voters in history, dumping a fifth of all registrations. Guess their color.

In swing-state Florida, the state is refusing to accept about 85,000 new registrations from voter drives – overwhelming Black voters.

In swing state New Mexico, HALF of the Democrats of Mora, a dirt poor and overwhelmingly Hispanic county, found their registrations disappeared this year, courtesy of a Republican voting contractor.

In swing states Ohio and Nevada, new federal law is knocking out tens of thousands of voters who lost their homes to foreclosure.


It’s time SOMEBODY raised the alarm about these missing voters; not to save Obama’s candidacy – journalists should stay the heck away from partisan endorsements – but raise the alarm to save our sick democracy.

And finally there is this report that voters in Michigan who face mortgage foreclosure might be challenged at the polls.

Oh, democracy, where art thou?

It’s not all bad news. The Veterans Administration has reversed a previous decision and will now allow voter registration drives at VA hospitals and homeless shelters. Duh.

And in response to our letter on the voting eligibility of ex-offenders to the Pennsylvania Board of Probation and Parole and the P&P offices in all 67 counties, the state is informing all of its officers to give the Department of State’s fact sheet (PDF) on ex-offender voting to all parolees. Numerous PA counties have contacted us and plan to do the same.

Here’s to saving democracy, one voter at a time.

Andy in Harrisburg

2 thoughts on “Voting in peril

  1. How does one become a member of an organization when they are on disability and cannot donate? Does membership encourage the ACLU to help those persons when they ask for help?

  2. I’m afraid I don’t understand your second question. To answer the first, members who have limited means are invited to contribute as little as $5 a year to sustain their membership.

    Supporters who cannot afford even that are still invited to receive our electronic communications and join us in our legislative efforts to defend civil liberties. The ACLU does not require you to be a member for any reason except to vote in board elections; non-members may receive all the same communication and participate equally in our programs with only a request.

    In terms of representing legal clients (if that’s what you mean by “ask for help”), membership status plays no factor in our decisions about who to represent. Our legal department does not have access to membership data, and so is not even aware of who is or is not a member when they make these decisions. Clients are never asked or advised to join the organization as a term of their representation – though many do become members, often because they want to help other people in a similar situation to their own.

    I hope that answers your question; if you have further questions about membership, please feel free to call me at 215-592-1513 x124. If you feel that your civil liberties have been violated and want the ACLU to help, please leave a voice mail on our intake line and someone will be in touch with you.

    Chris in Philly

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