(FinalCall.com) – Running up to the day voters decide the most contested and controversial presidential campaign in U.S. history, reports of intimidation and problems with machines during the early voting process had poured in.
On Oct. 25, the Advancement Project, a national voter protection organization, sued Mike Coffman, Colorado secretary of state, for illegally purging between 16,000 and 30,000 voters from Colorado’s rolls.
The organization sued on behalf the Colorado Common Cause, Mi Familia Vota, a non-partisan civic engagement campaign, and Service Employees International Union (SEIU). It argued that canceling new registrations when notices in a short time frame, instead of the 90 days required by law violated the national Voting Rights Act.
Melanie Campbell, national director and CEO of the National Coalition on Black Civic Participation, said that in the swing state of Virginia, people were not getting needed help to vote early. “Virginia has something called walk in absentee ballots with an excuse, not an early vote, but people are not being educated. I got an e-mail from a man whose wife called in and she was told she could not vote early, instead of them telling her she could complete an absentee ballot. They just said no,” Ms. Campbell told The Final Call.
The coalition completed a VOTE TO EMPOWER! Bus Tour and Rally, Oct. 23-25, as part of a Unity ’08 campaign and voter education drive. Marc Morial, President and CEO of the National Urban League, along with the Coalition and celebrities, including cast members of HBO’s “The Wire,” kicked off the non-partisan voter initiative to help increase voter turnout on election day.
The tour visited several college campuses, including Virginia Commonwealth University, Virginia State University and Norfolk State University, and highlighted ways to protect the vote, including, verify your registration status, polling location (1-866-myvote1) and whether you will be in town on Election Day.
In Fayetteville, North Carolina, a group of Black voters were heckled and harassed by a group of mainly Caucasian McCain/Palin supporters, Christina Bellatoni of The Washington Times reported. And according to the Fayetteville Observer, someone slashed the tires of at least 30 vehicles parked outside an Obama rally at the Crown Coliseum, which was also attended by some who heckled Black voters.
Facing South, a bi-weekly news update for the Institute for Southern Studies, reported that the County Registrar in Montgomery County, Va., told student voters who registered at Virginia Tech they could no longer be claimed as dependents on their parents’ tax returns, could lose coverage under parents’ health and car insurance, and could lose their scholarships.
In Radford, Va., the General Registrar told college students in a postcard that their voter applications could not be processed without a home address. In September, the ACLU requested that the registrar stop sending misleading postcards and offered to help any student whose registration card was rejected because they attempted to register where they attend school.
These troubling reports mean both voters and poll watchers must be vigilant on Nov. 4. The right to vote and the right to have votes counted is the hallmark of a true democracy. The country has already seen election shenanigans in 2000 and in 2004. Those sad chapters of America history must not be repeated.
This will likely be a record-breaking year for voter participation and the results should not be tainted. If America cannot protect and count its own vote, she surely cannot demand, or force, so-called democracy on others. A bungled, or stolen, election will prove America’s promise and pronouncements to be a sham.