This morning’s headlines on Democracy Now! included reports of people having problems at the polls during the early voting process that has already begun in many states. Two weeks out from Election Day and we’re already hearing this – what does this bode for November 4? The DN! reports include claims from voters in West Virginia that the touchscreen machines they used changed their votes from Obama to McCain, allegations from Democratic Governor Ted Strickland of Ohio that the Republican Party is trying to scare newly registered voters by challenging the status of almost 200,000 new registrations, and this most chilling report from North Carolina (a contested state that has been swinging towards Obama):
McCain Supporters Harass Obama Voters in North Carolina
In North Carolina, over 200,000 residents have already cast ballots in early voting. In Fayetteville, a group of John McCain supporters heckled and harassed a group of mostly black supporters of Barack Obama as they voted on Sunday. The Washington Times reported the McCain backers shouted and mocked the voters as they walked into the voting place. The website Facing South reports the McCain supporters likely broke the Voting Rights Act of 1964, which prohibits anyone from intimidating or threatening a person for voting or attempting to vote. On that same day in Fayetteville, North Carolina, thirty people reported having their tires slashed after attending an Obama rally.
UPDATE: Christina Bellantoni provides video of the hecklers and the heckled in NC on the Huffington Post.
And although it’s not an example of direct voter suppression per se, DN!’s next headline is inextricably linked to Republican efforts to cast aspersion on the newfound empowerment of newly registered, formerly disproportionately disenfranchised voters, many of whom have been registered by ACORN and similar organizations:
Obama Campaign Volunteer Assaulted in Wisconsin
In Caledonia, Wisconsin, a fifty-eight-year-old Obama campaign volunteer was assaulted on Saturday while canvasing. Nancy Takehara was attacked by a disgruntled homeowner who accused her of being connected to the community organizing group ACORN. Takehara said, “He grabbed me by the back of the neck. I thought he was going to rip my hair out of my head. He was pounding on my head and screaming.” Takehara said she was not seriously injured.
Between reports like that and the vile, racially-charged garbage that’s been coming out of the McCain camp and his supporters of late, it really does feel like we’ve been forcefully transported back to a darker time in American history. Or, more accurately, the venom and bile that’s been mostly simmering under the surface all along is boiling up thanks to McCain, Palin, and their surrogates stoking the flames.
It’s getting scarier and scarier out there. And we’ll all have to be that much more vigilant and vociferous in our defense of everyone’s right to cast their vote and have it properly counted – no matter who they are or who they’re voting for, and no matter the color of their skin or their chosen candidate’s.
Cross-posted at Feminste