Voters from Eastern Kentucky Denounce Mitch McConnell’s Voter Suppression Tactics

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A lot of Kentucky coal mining county voters think they might end up in jail if they vote in the November 4th midterms. Correction: A lot of Democratic Kentucky coal mining county voters think they might end up in jail if they vote in the November 4th midterms.

There’s a man to thank for deliberately instilling this fear: U.S. Senator Mitch McConnell (R-KY).

Criminally deceptive mailers went out in Eastern Kentucky (it went to voters in Boyd, Floyd, Johnson, Martin, Perry and Leslie counties*), and the official looking envelope says: “Election Violation Notice. You are at risk of acting on fraudulent information that has been targeted for citizens living in (insert) county… Facts related to a possible fraud being perpetrated on citizens across Kentucky.”

Then, the cherry of intimidation, a warning about the federal penalties for obstructing the mail. (Mitch McConnell’s false claims of association with a government agency have made the fact checker cranky, by the way.)

Several Kentucky voters who received the mailers spoke with PoliticusUSA on the grounds that I agree to not use their names out of further fear of political retribution. This is a horrible reflection of the inevitable result of this kind of intimidation and makes Grimes’ earlier point that voters are entitled to privacy.

I put out several requests for folks who received them to contact me, and not one person was a Republican. They all told me they were registered Democrats. This point might seem obvious, but it’s important as it goes to targeting.

They thought they were unable to vote:

My full name is **** ****. I live in the Ashland, KY area. My reaction was concern that I was somehow unable to vote. The paper was designed to seem as if a bureaucratic slip up occurred. I received one as did my mother’s husband. Both of us are registered democrats.

They felt intimidated and worry that many of the folks in the county targeted won’t understand that it’s a trick:

My name is **** ******* . I live in Eastern Kentucky ( coal country). I felt intimidated and angry after receiving the notice. The notice had a Frankfort Kentucky address and that’s the part that worried me …I’m extremely worried that senior citizens and uneducated people will not understand the notice. Yes I’m a Democrat. Unsure about other Dems.”

From Floyd county, via a phone interview, this woman thought she did something wrong and couldn’t vote:

“It was like a warning. I was like, what did I do wrong, do I not vote? And then my aunt was telling me – open it and read it. It came to me with my name and address, not box holder or resident. Are they going to be watching me when I vote?”

This kind of tactic is not new, particularly in the South (I say this as a recent former resident of a Southern red state where I watched African Americans get targeted just for voting, even though it was supposedly against the law). From police staged at polling places to stern looks and warnings of being watched, there are ways of letting folks know that voting will cost them (their job, their friends, their freedom).

As several of the targets explained to me, they already feel intimidated in coal country as registered Democrats. They don’t talk about politics and they don’t want people knowing how they feel about it because they are afraid. So having a mailer addressed to them that alerts them that they are specifically being watched is intimidating in and of itself.

It begs the question, if the mailer isn’t about voter intimidation, why is a mail statute printed on it threatening fines and jail time? It’s hard to come up with a legitimate purpose of McConnell’s deceptively official looking mailers other than voter intimidation and voter suppression of Democrats.

On the face of it, it appears that Senator McConnell may have committed two felonies with these flyers. This is why Secretary of State and his Democratic opponent Alison Lundergan Grimes has asked for an investigation. Officials will not comment on whether or not there is an investigation at this point in time (standard operating procedure before an election).

The Hill reported, “Grimes’s campaign says they’ve received calls from voters in Eastern Kentucky concerned they may be breaking the law if they vote on Tuesday. They pointed to a local report out from Hazard, Ky., revealing the Perry County Clerk has gotten similar calls as further evidence the mailer could have an impact on voters on Election Day.”

These went out to enough people as to raise the concern of the Perry County Clerk and others, who contacted the local Kentucky media in an attempt to clear it up. McConnell’s Democratic opponent, Alison Lundergan Grimes, is also the current Secretary of State, and she filed an injunction to stop the mailers as well as requesting investigations into them.

Mitch McConnell doesn’t want Kentucky coal country to vote, unless they vote his way.

Mitch McConnell is using the flyer to try to knock down Democratic support for Alison Lundergan Grimes in coal country via intimidation and suppression in order to make up for what he fears she will do in urban areas. This isn’t legal, and that should matter. Mitch McConnell has violated one of our most basic, core freedoms, and he has frightened his own constituents into thinking that they can’t vote.

* Counties are being added as they are brought to our attention. Johnson and Martin were added after the publication of this article.

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29 Replies to “Voters from Eastern Kentucky Denounce Mitch McConnell’s Voter Suppression Tactics”

  1. Unfortunately, this won’t be resolved before Tuesday. The Grimes campaign needs to buy some prime air time and get someone other than herself to make it clear to those people that they received an illegal mailing, which came from the McConnell campaign, trying to make Democratic voters alone believe their vote would put them in jeopardy. And that it’s false. Patently, blatantly false, and that the Grimes campaign wants voters of all persuasions to get out and vote.

    Even a Republican of reason can admit that this kind of tactic goes against the spirit of the Constitution, and voting rights, as well as common decency.

    The McConnell campaign is in free fall. I hope they land firmly and squarely in a pit of coal ash.

  2. In spite of his denial about repealing the health care law, he has been telling people he will introduce a budget resolution that allows him to repeal it with only 51 votes.
    This man is just a pile of excrement, he lies and tells a different story every day, how can the people of Kentucky vote for this man?

  3. I hope the efforts to alert the affected voters are successful.

    This tactic just shows how scared Mitch McConnell is of losing to Alison Lundergan Grimes.

  4. This is just one of his dirty tricks….. Go to thenation.com ….find an article dated oct 21′ titled “how Mitch McConnell is bending every campaign finance rule”

    He is a very dirty politician.

  5. I want to give a big shout out to the folks of Appalachia! They are showing that there are Southerners who believe in civil rights. This is Appalachia, coal country. The people are nice, and the area is stunning to behold!

    This voter suppression stunt should disqualify McConnell!

  6. So the GOP motto `If we can’t win we’ll steal the election’. GOP has never been good with ethics. I’m just wondering where the justice department is with all these illegal things going on.

  7. That is not the article I reference above in my post about bending finance rules but it’sa good one on how McConnell knew enough science to help the tobaco industry years ago when now he claims he’s no scientist and has no opinion as to what the majority of scientists are saying about climate change.

    It’s too bad Grimes isn’t using more of this info to pound McConnel’s hypocracy and double speak.

  8. …and the GOP wants to sue our President????

    Mitch McConnell needs his (#@$%# and I don’t mean feet) held to the fire and soon because of this. I hope he does not get away with this.

    He is literally threatening voters. What a turd.

  9. If this does not erase all questions and lingering doubts about McConnell and by extension the entire Republican Party being corrupt, self-serving and willing to go to great lengths to expand their power even to the point of destroying our democracy, already on life support, I don’t know what will.

    Furthermore Republicans would not need to suppress voter-turn-out if their ideas and proposals appealed to mainstream voters. So they win by cheating! They need to pay a political price.

    Kentucky, Please GOTV. Cast your ballots.

    Otherwise giving McConnell another 6 years in the Senate to do more harm to our country would be regrettable for all of us. Think of it this way: Koch bought Senators do the bidding of the Koch brothers, not the people.

    Go Vote, Please!

  10. This is just so sad and pathetic. Republicans will do anything to win. This man has no bottom when it comes to ugly, mean, nasty unconstitutional and hateful deeds. Why can’t he just run on his record?

  11. nope wont work cuz it takes 67 votes to overide presidential veto, if the congress passes it with mitch it wont become law cuz even after elections gop will not have enough votes in senate to overrides obamas veto, mitch will not get the aca repealed wont happen even if gop takes senate mitch will not get it into law cuz obama will veto any bill that gets rid of aca so it wont happen cuz gop wont have 67 us senate seats to overide veto

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