According to numerous reports yesterday and the days before voter intimidation was going to occur in yesterday’s Mississippi primary because of a conservative group’s poll watching program. MSNBC, the New York Times and even liberal election blog sites were filled with rhetoric of how “voters are going to be reminded of the state’s violent racist past.” Medgar Evers name came up multiple times yesterday and typical of the rhetoric on MSNBC was the statement that it is “unconscionable to send poll watchers” as poll watching is “about keeping black voters from potentially voting.”
1. The same thing happened that always happen with allegations of racial intimidation by Republican/conservative poll watchers: nothing. As I mentioned yesterday, unlike Democrats, every Republican/conservative poll watcher program that I know of emphasizes that poll watchers do not interact with voters. Republicans don’t intimidate voters.
2. The comparison of the Republican Party and Tea Party to the horrible racist practices of the Mississippi Democrat Party 50 years ago are outrageous. Commentators also need to keep in mind it was Democrats who created the terrible Jim Crow laws of fifty years ago. While the Tea Party did not exist 50 years ago, its ideological forefathers -- men like firebrand and former Republican Congressman Bob Dornan and NRA President Charlton Heston -- were in Mississippi registering African American voters. Dornan received death threats from the Democrat party ally of the time, the KKK, for his efforts.
3. Using much different techniques, the Democrat Party still tries to intimidate Republicans and those that oppose them. Ironically in his effort to explain away the complete absence of intimidation yesterday, Professor Rick Hasen on his blog mentions the successful 2004 effort by Democrats to intimidate Republican poll watchers. Unlike Hasen’s characterization it was the Democrats who fought against an Ohio law and scared away volunteer poll watchers resulting in even liberal Supreme Court Justice Stevens siding with Republicans. Unfortunately, Stevens’ decision came in the middle of the night before the election so that many poll watchers were not able to be informed of the decision and stayed home for the fear of being prosecuted as threatened by Democrats. A Washington state Democrat imitated this effort in 2012 with official looking letterhead to intimidate Florida Republican activists from voting.
Republican voter intimidation is a myth.