Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Mississippi (Voter Card) Burning

Today's GOP Senate primary runoff in Mississippi is going to get ugly as incumbent Republican Sen. Thad Cochran faces a strong primary challenge from Tea Party darling Chris McDaniel.  Cochran is trying to recruit anyone he can get to vote to keep McDaniel out, particularly black Democrats.  And McDaniel is doing everything he can to intimidate black Democrats from even showing up, saying he'll have "election observers" on hand to make sure these Democrats aren't allowed to vote.

Kenneth T. Cuccinelli II, president of the Senate Conservatives Fund, a political action committee that has spent hundreds of thousands of dollars backing Mr. Cochran’s Tea Party opponent, State Senator Chris McDaniel, said in an interview on Sunday that his group was joining with Freedom Works and the Tea Party Patriots in a “voter integrity project” in Mississippi.

By the way that's the same Ken Cuccinelli who lost the Virginia governor's race to Terry McAullife last November.  You thought he wasn't going to immediately get a wingnut welfare job?  Oh, and by "voter integrity project" he means "voter suppression through active harassment of black voters".

The groups will deploy observers in areas where Mr. Cochran is recruiting Democrats, Mr. Cuccinelli said. J. Christian Adams, a former Justice Department official and conservative commentator who said he was advising the effort, described the watchers as “election observers,” mostly Mississippi residents, who will be trained to “observe whether the law is being followed.” 
After nearly 42 years in Washington, Mr. Cochran is facing a dire political threat from Mr. McDaniel, a former radio talk show host. Under state elections law, Democrats may vote in the runoff if they did not vote in the Democratic primary on June 3
“The laws in Mississippi are unusually open to poll watching from the outside,” said Mr. Cuccinelli, a former Virginia attorney general. “We’re going to take full advantage of that and we’re going to lay eyes on Cochran’s effort to bring Democrats in,” he added. “And of course, if they voted in primaries, that’s illegal.”

So expect every black voter to have their eligibility to vote questioned by angry poll workers.  Things haven't changed much in 50 years, have they?  Rick Hasen at TPM:

The idea here appears to be that because poll workers cannot discourage Democrats from voting in the election (based upon an unenforceable Mississippi law which says that only those who intend to support the nominee of the party in the primary can vote in the primary), these outside election observers led by Adams may make such encouragement. That is what Adams must mean about “the law” “being followed.” That’s very troubling and I hope DOJ has some observers now heading down there too.

I hope so.  Not that Thad Cochran hasn't been a complete pain in the ass for the last three decades or so, but McDaniel is certifiable, and if he's willing to pull this crap to win a primary, imagine what he'll do in order to win a general election.

Luckily the Justice Department is very aware of this and is keeping an eye on the situation today.

The U.S. Justice Department says it’s keeping a close eye on a plan by conservatives to send poll-watchers to Mississippi for the state’s U.S. Senate race Tuesday—a “voter integrity” project that’s sparking fears of intimidation and racial profiling. And now, Mississippi’s attorney general and secretary of state are chiming in, too.

The department is aware of concerns about voter intimidation and is monitoring the situation,” a Justice Department spokesperson told msnbc. “Voters that experience problems are encouraged to call 1-800-253-3931.”

Here's hoping that this number won't have to be used.  I'm betting it will be used, and often today.

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