For decades Republicans have been using voter intimidation tactics to prevent minorities from showing up at the polls to support Democratic candidates, and as Hispanics have fled the GOP, it appears that they are the newest voter intimidation target. As 2012 looms, one of the intended consequences of the AZ immigration law is to keep Latinos away from the polls.
Republicans have a long history of using intimidation to keep voters away from the polls and caging techniques to challenge a voter’s registration status at the polls. Caging is done by sending direct mail to addresses, if that mail is returned undelivered, then the voter is either purged from the voting rolls or has their registration challenged when they attempt to vote. It is a form of intimidation and an attempt to discourage, usually minorities, from voting. This practice is not unusual.
As Talking Points Memo pointed out, “In 1981, the RNC and the New Jersey Republican Party sent a mass mailing to voters in predominantly African American and Latino neighborhoods, from which a caging list of 45,000 voters were compiled based on returned mail. The RNC attempted to have the listed voters purged before the election. When the request was denied, the RNC announced plans to challenge those voters at the polls instead and used intimidation tactics, including the posting of off-duty law enforcement officials at polls in targeted areas and the placement of posters in heavily African American neighborhoods, warning that violating elections laws is a crime.”
According to the DNC, “Between 2004 and 2006, the Republican National Committee challenged more than 77,000 Americans voters in targeted communities.” These operations occur all over the country. Whether it is a voter ID law in Georgia, a flawed convicted felon purge in Florida, or caging operations in Montana, Michigan, Indiana, Virginia, and Ohio, voter intimidation and caging is an integral part of the Republican election strategy.
When the Republican Party decided to appeal to their white base on immigration reform, Latinos fled the GOP en mass. In 2004, George W. Bush got 40% of the Latino vote, but by 2006, 70% of Latinos voted Democrat. The situation got even worse for the GOP in 2008, as Obama beat McCain 67%-31% among Latino voters. Republicans seem to have given up efforts to woo Latinos back to the GOP and may have now moved on to marginalizing their votes and keeping them away from the polls.
Greg Palast was the first to suggest that one of the motivations behind the Arizona immigration reform is to keep Latino voters away from the polls. He has some very strong evidence to support his claims, (As Secretary of State in 2004 Jan) “Brewer, then secretary of state, had organized a racially loaded purge of the voter rolls that would have made Katherine Harris blush. Beginning after the 2004 election, under Brewer’s command, no fewer than 100,000 voters, overwhelmingly Hispanic, were blocked from registering to vote. In 2005, the first year of the Great Brown-Out, one in three Phoenix residents found their registration applications rejected.”
Later in his investigation he adds even more evidence, “But Secretary of State Brewer followed the Rove plan to a T. The weapon she used to slice the Arizona voter rolls was a 2004 law, known as “Prop 200,” which required proof of citizenship to register. It is important to see the Republicans’ latest legislative horror show, sanctioning cops to stop residents and prove citizenship, as just one more step in the party’s desperate plan to impede Mexican-Americans from marching to the ballot box.”
Here is the video of Palast’s investigation courtesy of thuthout:
The next step in a plan of Latino voter suppression would be for other swing states with large or growing Latino populations and Republicans in control of the state political apparatus to adopt laws similar to Arizona’s. The point is not to suppress Latino votes for the fun of it. The goal is to suppress votes that might influence the outcome of a presidential election in a few swing states. The Arizona law isn’t for 2010. It is the first step in a campaign of Latino intimidation and suppression for 2012.
For Republicans there are two sides to the immigration coin. They play into the fears of their white party base motivating them to support the GOP, while at the same time the very same law works to intimidate Latino voters into not showing up at the polls. The intended result would be increased white GOP turn out and decreased Democratic Latino turnout. In a close presidential election, this kind of plan in one state can dictate which party controls the White House. Setting up Arizona to be the next Florida (2000) or Ohio (2004) is what the immigration law is really about.
Mr. Easley is the founder/managing editor and Senior White House and Congressional correspondent for PoliticusUSA.Jason has a Bachelor’s Degree in Political Science. His graduate work focused on public policy, with a specialization in social reform movements.
Awards and Professional Memberships
Member of the Society of Professional Journalists and The American Political Science Association