Sunday, September 23, 2018

Vote Rigging in the USA

In America, voting rights experts warn that hundreds of thousands of eligible voters could face hurdles as they try to get to polling stations in November. African American, Hispanic or other minority communities, as well as young voters, are especially vulnerable to purges as they more frequently experience the kind of bureaucratic hiccups that can lead them to them being mistakenly ruled ineligible. The US Department of Justice, which has the task of protecting the voting rights of Americans, has increasingly switched its focus under Trump from policing purges to encouraging them.

A recent study by the Brennan Center for Justice found that since 2013, when the US supreme court drastically reduced federal controls against discriminatory behavior by largely southern states, there has been a dramatic uptick in voter purges. The numbers affected are breathtaking: between 2014 and 2016 alone, 16 million people nationwide were removed from register rolls.

In June, the US supreme court lent its weight to the wave of purges sweeping the country when it ruled in favor of Ohio’s tough stance in which citizens can be thrown off voter lists simply for missing an election and then fail to respond to official correspondence. Should other states follow in Ohio’s footsteps, the Washington Post estimates that millions of legitimate American citizens who should be fully entitled to participate in the democratic process will be in peril of being denied their franchise.

 A group known as the Public Interest Legal Foundation (Pilf), wants to sweep people off the lists in ways that are unreliable, and poor and transient people are more likely to get knocked off the rolls and then find it harder to get back on.” according to Justin Levitt, one of the country’s foremost election experts who was a senior official in the civil rights division of the justice department and is now a professor of election law at Loyola in Los Angeles. Pilf, often working in tandem with similar-minded rightwing organisations such as the American Civil Rights Union, Judicial Watch and True the Vote, has targeted hundreds of electoral jurisdictions in recent years. 

Chiraag Bains of the advocacy group Demos that has monitored the activity of Pilf and its allied groups for several years, said: “Their aim is not to ensure the security of our elections, but to intimidate people from going to the polls. They are promoting purges that prevent eligible voters from participating in our democracy.”

“Voter intimidation looks different today – nobody needs to wear white hoods or burn crosses,” said Allison Riggs from the Southern Coalition for Social Justice. “Instead, you accuse people of crimes when they’ve done nothing wrong and put their names out there for the rabid masses to fixate on: that’s insidious modern-day intimidation.”

Studies have concluded that “by any measure, voter fraud is extraordinarily rare”.

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