McCain Aide Acknowledges Voter Suppression Strategy

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Six days ago, I wrote about how a solid contact inside the McCain campaign explained to me what’s left for McCain (in the remaining days of the election battle after his terrible performance in the third debate).

“Voter suppression and wonky Dieboldt machines,” my contact said then, adding “It’s our last hope.” He stuns me into a long silence. Breaking the awkward pause, he quickly added, “I’m just kidding.”

It turns out that, even though he did not know it at the time, my source was serious.

“There have been meetings and conference calls between people here (at McCain’s campaign headquarters), people at the RNC and groups out in Ohio, Colorado, Florida, Pennsylvania, and maybe a few other states creating a strategy to harass voters and challenge ballots,” he tells me this morning in a call he makes to me on his cell phone from the safety of his car.”

“This isn’t what I signed up for and I don’t want to be a part of it. I may resign in the next day or two because I want McCain to win but I don’t want to go to jail for helping.”

I sit in my office, dumbfounded. Here is a relatively important person inside a presidential campaign acknowledging that McCain and the Republican National Committee are conspiring secretly with outside groups to sabotage the presidential election.

Why, I ask, are they doing this?

“I think it’s because they know the election is lost in a fair fight so they want to cast doubts on the legitimacy of Obama’s victory,” he says. “Hell, we’re losing it in an unfair fight in spite of the bullshit about Ayers.”

“Anyway, in the process they might just pull off a win if they can challenge enough voters or scare people away from voting,” my source adds. “With the polls against him, they need a distraction on election day.”

Just Like Zimbabwe
I reach a second contact in the McCain campaign, a woman I’ve known for decades who works in one of the dwindling number of swing states, to learn if she’s heard anything similar.

“Well, I don’t get a lot of the insider scuttlebutt ‘cause I’m not in McLean (Virginia, where McCain’s campaign office is located),” she reminds me. “But it fits with rumors I’ve heard and stuff floating around the office and on the web.”

I wonder whether she thinks it is a legitimate strategy for a presidential campaign to condone.

“Ask Steve Schmidt,” she shoots back with more than a tinge of bitterness in her voice. “It sounds like something straight from Rove’s playbook. If you can’t beat them, scare them. If you can’t scare them, make sure their votes don’t count.”

I hang up thinking this sounds like Zimbabwe. Or Haiti or some other backwater country ruled by a tin pot dictator. I wonder if the United States needs the Carter Center needs to monitor the US elections as they did in Gaza or some African nations.

Frightening Reality
The frightening reality is that GOP-backed groups are systematically looking for ways to prevent Democrats from casting a ballot Nov. 4.

As Robert F. Kennedy Jr., told Rachel Maddow Tuesday night, Colorado has purged up to 12% of all voter registrations and, in a Rolling Stone article Kennedy details how the tactic is spreading to other states.

Not coincidentally, Pres. Bush put former Colorado Republican Secretary of State Donna Davidson in charge of showing voting officials how to “clean up” their registration lists. For “clean up” you can substitute “get rid of Democrats, especially minorities in urban areas.”

Even if your name isn’t purged and you aren’t challenged at your voting place, Kennedy notes your vote may still not count. The US Commission on Civil Rights investigated some of the 2000 returns from Florida and found that African-Americans were ten times more likely than whites to have their ballots rejected, a ratio that holds nationwide, Kennedy reports in his Rolling Stone article.

Fighting First
Unlike the Democrats in 2000 and 2004, Barack Obama’s legal team and the DNC are not sitting passively for the vote to be stolen out from under the country.

I speak with two sources inside the Obama election effort and neither is totally surprised, adding that legal teams are active in every state to help ensure that voters can actually vote. In fact, several thousand volunteer lawyers will be ready to move into counties and precincts on election day or during the counting process if trouble is reported.

While there have been some problems with early voting, my friend Pete in Palm Beach County, Florida, voted yesterday and said things went smoothly.

“I waited in line an hour because the place was packed. Being curious, I asked an elections official how things were going. And they noted every early place in (the county) was just like this one: Open at 10 a.m. to long lines and it doesn’t stop until after 7 p.m.

charley-james.jpg“Like a lot of people voting, the couple in front of me were wearing Obama T-shirts and the guy behind me had an Alaska hat on but was voting for Obama. Why, I asked him? He said it’s because Palin has brought great shame on the state by her actions, greed, and outright fraudulent behaviour. He predicts that Palin will have a primary fight for sure if she loses with McCain. Why he is voting in Florida? He tells me winters are too damn cold in Alaska so he comes to Florida in September, returning in May. His son runs the business in Juneau during the winter.”

Hopefully, things will run as smoothly straight through Election Day. But the McCain campaign, the Republican National Committee and groups they’re supporting are trying to ensure nothing goes smoothly.

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Charley James
The Progressive Curmudgeon

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If you’re born in Milwaukee, you are born a Democrat. And so I gravitated naturally to liberal politics, first as journalist and then an activist. I’ve been writing since I was eight years old and, after working in newsrooms for far too long, I have devoted much of the past decade as an independent investigtative journalist. When not writing about politics or George Bush, I scribble out essays on the peculiarites of modern times.

Published by the LA Progressive on October 22, 2008
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About Charley James

If you are born in Milwaukee, chances are you're born a Democrat. So, I gravitated naturally to liberal politics as an activist and a journalist. I've been writing since I was eight and, after working in newsrooms for far too long, I have devoted much of the past decade as an independent investigtative jouralist. For much of the past year, I've been writing about homelessness - America's immorality play.