- NEW YORK -- Don't kid yourself. The Republican Party's decision
yesterday to "delay" the renewal of the Voting Rights Act has
not a darn thing to do with objections of the Republican's White Sheets
- Complaints by a couple of Good Ol' Boys
to legislation has never stopped the GOP leadership from rolling over dissenters.
- This is a strategic stall - meant to
de-criminalize the Republican Party's new game of challenging voters of
color by the hundreds of thousands.
- In the 2004 Presidential race, the GOP
ran a massive multi-state, multi-million-dollar operation to challenge
the legitimacy of Black, Hispanic and Native-American voters. The
methods used broke the law -- the Voting Rights Act. And while the
Bush Administration's Civil Rights Division grinned and looked the other
way, civil rights lawyers are circling, preparing to sue to stop the violations
of the Act before the 2008 race.
- Therefore, Republicans have promised
to no longer break the law -- not by going legit but by eliminating the
- The Act was passed in 1965 after the
Ku Klux Klan and other upright citizens found they could use procedural
tricks -- "literacy tests," poll taxes and more -- to block citizens
of color from casting ballots.
- De-criminalizing the "caging"
- Here's what happened in '04 -- and what's
in store for '08.
- In the 2004 election, over THREE MILLION
voters were challenged at the polls. No one had seen anything like
it since the era of Jim Crow and burning crosses. In 2004, voters
were told their registrations had been purged or that their addresses were
- Denied the right to the regular voting
booths, these challenged voters were given "provisional" ballots.
Over a million of these provisional ballots (1,090,729 of them) were tossed
in the electoral dumpster uncounted.
- Funny thing about those ballots.
About 88% were cast by minority voters.
- This isn't a number dropped on me from
a black helicopter. They come from the raw data of the US Election
Assistance Commission in Washington, DC.
- At the heart of the GOP's mass challenge
of voters were what the party's top brass called, "caging lists"
-- secret files of hundreds of thousands of voters, almost every one from
a Black-majority voting precinct.
- When our investigations team, working
for BBC TV, got our hands on these confidential files in October 2004,
the Republicans told us the voters listed were their potential "donors."
Really? The sheets included pages of men from homeless shelters in
- Donor lists, my ass. Every expert
told us, these were "challenge lists," meant to stop these Black
voters from casting ballots.
- When these "caged" voters arrived
at the polls in November 2004, they found their registrations missing,
their right to vote blocked or their absentee ballots rejected because
their addresses were supposedly "fraudulent."
- Why didn't the GOP honchos 'fess up to
challenging these allegedly illegal voters? Because targeting voters
of color is AGAINST THE LAW. The law in question is the Voting Rights
Act of 1965.
- The Act says you can't go after groups
of voters if you choose your targets based on race. Given that almost
all the voters on the GOP hit list are Black, the illegal racial profiling
is beyond even Karl Rove's ability to come up with an alibi.
- The Republicans target Black folk not
because they don't like the color of their skin. They don't like
the color of their vote: Democrat. For that reason, the
GOP included on its hit list Jewish retirement homes in Florida.
Apparently, the GOP was also gunning for the Elderly of Zion.
- These so-called "fraudulent"
voters, in fact, were not fraudulent at all. Page after page, as
we've previously reported, are Black soldiers sent overseas. The
Bush campaign used their absence from their US homes to accuse them of
voting from false addresses.
- Now that the GOP has been caught breaking
the Voting Rights law, they have found a way to keep using their expensively
obtained "caging" lists: let the law expire next year.
If the Voting Rights Act dies in 2007, the 2008 race will be open season
on dark-skinned voters. Only the renewal of the Voting Rights Act
can prevent the planned racial wrecking of democracy.
- "Pre-clearance" and the Great
Blackout of 2000
- Before the 2000 presidential balloting,
then Jeb Bush's Secretary of State purged thousands of Black citizens'
registrations on the grounds that they were "felons" not entitled
to vote. Our review of the files determined that the crimes of most
on the list was nothing more than VWB -- Voting While Black.
- That "felon scrub," as the
state called it, had to be "pre-cleared" under the Voting Rights
Act. That is, "scrubs" and other changes in procedures must first
be approved by the US Justice Department.
- The Florida felon scrub slipped through
this "pre-clearance" provision because Katherine Harris' assistant
assured the government the scrub was just a clerical matter. Civil
rights lawyers are now on the alert for such mendacity.
- The Burning Cross Caucus of the Republican
Party is bitching that "pre-clearance" of voting changes applies
only to Southern states. I have to agree that singling out the Old
Confederacy is a bit unfair. But the solution is not to smother the
Voting Rights law but to spread its safeguards to all fifty of these United
- White Sheets to Spread Sheets
- Republicans argue that the racial voting
games and the threats of the white-hooded Klansmen that kept African-Americans
from the ballot box before the 1965 passage of the Voting Rights Act no
longer threaten Black voters.
- That's true. When I look over the
"caging lists" and the "scrub sheets," it's clear to
me that the GOP has traded in white sheets for spreadsheets.
- Greg Palast is the author of Armed Madhouse:
Who's Afraid of Osama Wolf?, China Floats Bush Sinks, the Scheme to Steal
'08, No Child's Behind Left and other Dispatches from the Front Lines of
the Class War. Order it here.