Saturday, August 21, 2004
Bob Herbert reports on the latest tactic in the ongoing strategy to suppress voter turnout generally, and black voter turnout specifically: sending out armed members of the FL Dept. of Law Enforcement to "visit" the homes of (often elderly) black GOTV volunteers, under the auspices of some sort of "criminal investigation" involving the mayor of Orlando.
One woman, who is in her mid-70's and was visited by two officers in June, said in an affidavit: "After entering my house, they asked me if they could take their jackets off, to which I answered yes. When they removed their jackets, I noticed they were wearing side arms. ... And I noticed an ankle holster on one of them when they sat down."
Though apprehensive, she answered all of their questions. But for a lot of voters, the emotional response to the investigation has gone beyond apprehension to outright fear.What is especially sinister about this is that it seems to involve "cracking down" on people involved specifically in absentee-ballot GOTV efforts. We already know that the Jeb Bush administration sent out official messages assuring Floridians of the infallibility of the black box voting machines, while privately sending out letters to Republicans encouraging them to vote by absentee ballot. It seems clear which voting method Jeb Bush has more faith in. Hence, perhaps, these polite house "visits" to old black ladies.
"These guys are using these intimidating methods to try and get these folks to stay away from the polls in the future,'' said Eugene Poole, president of the Florida Voters League, which tries to increase black voter participation throughout the state. "And you know what? It's working. One woman said, 'My God, they're going to put us in jail for nothing.' I said, 'That's not true.' "