There's Nothing Some Fear More Than Citizens Exercising Their Constitutional RightsThis country has a long and unfortunate history of attempting to — and succeeding in — disenfranchising minority voters. Given that, one would think the Republican Party would make every effort to avoid at least the appearance of disenfranchising minority voters, if it couldn't bring itself to stop doing it. But they don't, as the New York Times' rundown of the so-called unintentional problems with a 4 year old election law — and an avalanche of other articles over the last few months — makes clear. So we thought it about time to let you know all the ways Republicans are trying to stop you — and the Ohio voter in this picture— from exercising your right to vote.Richard Hasen, a professor specializing in election law at Loyola Law School in Los Angeles, says in the Chicago Tribune that ''Election law has become political strategy." Hasen's not wrong, except about the timing — election law has been an electoral strategy since McCain's hero Barry Goldwater ran for President in 1964. Back then, it was called "ballot security" instead of "voter caging," but the principles were the same: target low income and minority voters whose housing situations might not be as stable as your average suburban white Republican voter with mailers marked "Do Not Forward." When they are returned to sender, get the person thrown off the voter rolls since they don't live where they say they live and, abrakazam!, you've got one less vote for the other party. It was so bad and so racist that the Republican party was forced to sign consent decrees agreeing not to do it anymore in 1982 and again in 1986. This, of course, did not stop the Republican party from doing it (at least) in 2004 in Ohio and Florida. Not that caging was the only electoral problem in 2000, either — former Secretary of State Katherine Harris initiated a "felon purge" that illegally purged at least 2,000 former felons who had their rights restored from the voter rolls as well as thousands of other Floridians with "similar" names. Unsurprisingly, most of these people who were prevented from voting were African-American (and, in many cases, Democrats). Bush won Florida by less than 1,000 votes. But even what limited bad press the Republican party got from that hasn't stopped them in their quest to make sure that as many potential Democratic voters are purged from the rolls in time for Election Day — or should we start calling it coronation day?. In 2007, the head of the Republican Party in Kansas was so emboldened by the fact that most people don't give a shit if voters (and particularly minority voters) are illegally disenfranchised that he actually sent out a letter bragging about the party's efforts to throw legal voters off the rolls. He's still the chair, by the way. The Chairman of the Republican Party in Macomb County, Michigan told reporters for the Michigan Messenger last month that they planned to challenge voters on election day based on lists of foreclosed homes in the county, in an effort to get voters thrown out of polling places. Of course in Michigan, as in the rest of the country, minority homeowners were far more likely to have been offered subprime mortgages and are thus far more likely to be caught up in the foreclosure crisis in Michigan. Unlike registration-caging which, when done by race, is illegal under the consent decree, it's apparently perfectly legal to challenge someone's right to vote at their polling place. The Republican National Committee sent out "registration confirmation" mailers to thousands of registered Democratic voters in Florida this summer (you know, when the snow birds weren't there) with "do not forward" noticed attached in order to cage voters there as well. Their spokeswoman told a reporter that it "wasn't worth writing about," because, of course, they'd prefer that you not know that they're undertaking massive efforts to eliminate potential Democratic voters from non-provisional balloting on November 4th. In Ohio, they've gone even further, filing lawsuits against the Secretary of State to keep anyone from voting in-person absentee that registered close to the deadline — as the woman pictured did. Can't you tell she shouldn't be allowed to vote? Can't you just see it in her face? Ohio law allowed people to vote in-person absentee before the registration deadline and the Secretary of State ruled that ballots not counted until election day weren't votes until Election Day. And — horrors — people that might not have the means to get back to the polls a month after they registered did so. Homeless people! Women at domestic violence shelters! The Ohio told the New York Post that they "smelled a rat" in that, because, you know, increasing voter turnout (which is embarrassingly low in this country) through making it easier for legal but disadvantaged voters to vote is totally shady. This is what they do: when they can't win on the issues, they'll win by hook or by crook or by making sure that your civil rights are violated and you can't do anything about it. Oh, and yes, Republicans are caging votes in Ohio again, too, in case they couldn't disenfranchise enough people by the registration deadline. But they've got other tactics that they're hoping you can't tie to them. In 2002, the Republican-controlled Congress passed and President Bush signed into law the completely unironically named Help America Vote Act. That's the legislation that ushered in the days of electronic voting machines, by the way. But it also ushered in the days of database-checking and automatic verification that will kick out voter registrations if a typo some data-entry person making $6 stuck in or left out a letter somehow. They're checking your voter registration against your driver's license (took me an extra trip to the DMV to get mine right, by the way) and against the Social Security database which is so error-ridden even Republican-leaning groups like the Chamber of Commerce don't want to have to use it to see if you're eligible to work in this country. Oh, and they don't even have to tell you if you've been purged — you might just show up on Election Day and be told in a crowded room that they think you're a felon or an illegal immigrant or have registered in more than one place. That's not humiliating or intimidating or anything, or designed to get you to give up and go home. And that, of course, is if some GOP operative "observing" the election doesn't decide to challenge your right to vote at all based on some shadily-obtained caged list. And don't let them pretend that this isn't part and parcel of how they expect to win. They know they're not going to win votes based on their policies at this point — hence with talking about Bill Ayers the "terrorist" BFF of Obama, hence with running nothing but negative ads, hence with not calling out their supporters on yelling "Kill him!" or "Off with his head" at rallies. But if they can't win with that, they'll win with this and hope that, as has always been the case, disenfranchised voters will head home and not scream, shout or try voting again. Because, after all, there's another election they want to win by hook or by crook next year, and a win's a win as George Bush proved in 2000. States’ Actions to Block Voters Appear Illegal [NY Times] Voter Reigstration Lawsuits Could Shape Nov. 4 Election [Chicago Tribune] Voter Caging [Project Vote] Voter Caging [Wikipedia] Voter Supression [ePluribus Media] Botched Name Purge Denied Some the Right to Vote [Washington Post] Kansas GOP Chair Sends Email Boasting of Voter Caging [Crooks & Liars] Kansas Republican Party Officials [Kansas GOP] Lose Your House, Lose Your Vote [Michigan Messenger] New NCRC Study Shows Racial Disparities In High-Cost Lending Remain Entrenched [National Community Reinvestment Coalition] Democrats, Florida Elections Officials Criticize GOP Mailing [St. Petersburg Times] Ohio Republicans Use Lawsuit To Fight for State's Crucial Votes [Wall Street Journal] GOP Smells Rat in Ohio [NY Post] Nearly 600,000 Subject to Possible Caging in Ohio [Miller-McCune] Immigration [U.S. Chamber of Commerce] Red Flag On Purging Voter Rolls [CBS News]