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Voter suppression on the Left

By Michelle Malkin  •  May 2, 2008 10:28 AM

I’ve been remiss in blogging about the extraordinary story of voter suppression by the Left in North Carolina. It appears to be a case of Hillary-supporting women’s activists placing confusing robo-calls to erode black voter turnout and hurt Barack Obama. The North Carolina attorney general has now put a stop to the calls by “Women’s Voices, Women Vote.”

If conservatives were behind such an effort, the nutroots would be splashing KKK photoshops of the culprits all over their blogs and the NYTimes would be demanding that the Justice Department open up a probe and Henry Waxman would be flooding the zone with subpoenas.

Facing South first broke the story on Wednesday.

Don Surber has a good round-up:

Reports out of North Carolina is that robo telephone calls to black precincts include this message:

“Hello. This is Lamont Williams. In the next few days, you will receive a voter-registration packet in the mail. All you need to do is fill it out, sign it, date and return your application. Then, you will be able to vote and make your voice heard. Please return your registration form when it arrives. Thank you.”

The News-Observer in Raleigh reported: “State elections officials are asking for the public’s help in identifying the source of misleading and potentially illegal robocalls.”

Now NPR has connected the calls to the Women’s Voices, Women Vote, a tax-exempt group (NPR erroneously labeled it a charity) that is supposed to be nonpartisan but it registers single women and has ties to liberal candidates.

“Will Evans of the Center for Investigative Reporting, who collaborated in reporting this story, found some Obama backers among the Women’s Voices leadership, but the group mostly has ties to Clinton and her campaign. Gardner worked on former President Bill Clinton’s 1992 campaign. Board member John Podesta was President Clinton’s chief-of-staff. Maggie Williams, Hillary Clinton’s campaign manager, used to be on the Women’s Voices leadership team and did consulting work for the group,” NPR reported.

I oppose an investigation into this intramural battle because taxpayer money should not be wasted policing a Democratic Party food fight.

As a retired pastor of the Trinity United Church of Christ in Chicago may put it, this is chickens coming home to roost for the Democratic Party’s years of identity politics.

Indeed, the liberal mouthpiece NPR could not resist a cheap shot at Republicans in its report when it is the Democrats who are doing this.

This is not the first time this group has been accused of rolling out Lamont Williams to prey on black voters. NPR cited similar calls in Arizona, Arkansas, Colorado, Florida, Kentucky, Louisiana, Michigan, Ohio, Virginia and Wisconsin at various times.

Shaun Mullen excoriates “Jackboot Feminism:”

WVWV president Page Gardner has apologized for any “confusion” caused by her group.

But it is obvious that Gardner is playing the news media and others for suckers because the more we learn about the high-tech suppression effort the more obvious it becomes that it was black North Carolinians whom the women’s advocacy group was trying to confuse in the service of getting one of their own elected — a proclaimed feminist who like them has mastered the manly art of dirty politics.

As Facing South reported in detail, Women’s Voice, Women’s Voice has racked up quite a record of misleading voters:

…since last November, in at least 11 states nationwide, Women’s Voices — sometimes working through its Voter Participation Center project — has developed a checkered reputation, drawing rebukes from leading election officials and complaints from thousands of would-be voters as a result of their secretive tactics, deceptive mailings and calls, and penchant for skirting or violating the law. For example:

* In Arizona last November, election officials were “inundated with complaints” after Women’s Voices sent a mailing erroneously claiming that recipients were “required” to mail back an enclosed voter registration form. Many who received the mailing were already registered; the mailing also gave the wrong registration date. Secretary of State Jan Brewer denounced the group’s tactics as “misleading and deceptive.” A similar mailing in Colorado that month “[drew] fire and caused confusion,” according to a state press release.

* In Wisconsin, state officials singled out Women’s Voices for misleading and possibly disenfranchising voters, stating in a press release [PDF]: “One group in particular — Women’s Voices. Women Vote, of Washington, D.C. — apparently ignored or disregarded state deadlines in seeking to register voters,” sending in registrations past the January 30 deadline and causing “hundreds of Wisconsin voters who think they registered in advance” to actually not be.

* Michigan officials ended up “fielding tons of calls from confused voters” after Women’s Voices did a February mailing to “380,000 unmarried women” — including numerous deceased voters and even more that were already registered. Sarah Johnson of Women’s Voices “seemed confused by the confusion,” the Lansing State Journal reported.

* A 1.5 million-piece Women’s Voices mailing in Florida falsely stated: “To comply with state voting requirements, please return the enclosed application.” Pasco County’s elections supervisor called it “disingenuous”; another said it created “a lot of unnecessary panic on behalf of the voters,” reported local newspapers. Sarah Johnson of Women’s Voice said, “I’m sorry to hear that.”

* By March, Women’s Voices was backing off the erroneous “registration is required” language, but there were still problems. For example, a mailing in Arkansas allowed that “registering to vote is voluntary,” but a clerk in Washington County reported that “the majority [of forms] sent back to the county come from registered voters, causing needless labor for office employees.”

Problems with the group’s tactics have also been documented in Louisiana, Kentucky and Ohio.

In each state, the Women’s Voices campaigns have brought the same news and the same themes, again and again: Deceptive claims and misrepresentations of the law — sometimes even breaking the law. Wildly inaccurate mailing lists, supposedly aimed at “unregistered single women,” but in reality reaching many registered voters as well as families, deceased persons and pets. Tactics that confuse voters and potentially disenfranchise them.

For such a sophisticated and well-funded operation, which counts among its ranks some of the country’s most seasoned political operatives, such missteps are peculiar, as is the surprise expressed by Women’s Voices staff after each controversy.

Sweetness & Light: “That we are funding such blatant politicking is the real scandal here.”

It’s about time someone in Congress challenge the group’s tax-exempt status.


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