Watching the Tea Party Poll-Watchers

Reporting on Politics and Policy.
Nov. 5 2012 11:59 AM

Watching the Tea Party Poll-Watchers

It begins. Daniel Denvir writes about a pre-emptive challenge from Democrats in Pittsburgh:

We are in receipt of a partial list of targeted precincts that was distributed at a poll watcher training conducted by the Pittsburgh Tea Party Movement. The Pittsburgh Tea Party Movement conducted this training, on behalf of the Republican Party, as part of its program to combat alleged voter fraud in Allegheny County. We understand the Republican Party has targeted approximately 111, out of a total 1,319 precincts, in that county. The partial list, which is attached hereto as Exhibit A, includes 59 of the total 111 precincts targeted by the Republican Party. We are unaware of any history of voter fraud at any of these 59 locations. We are concerned that these locations are being targeted for impermissible, racially-motivated reasons.
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Brentin Mock reports on Florida:

In Hillsborough County, 77 people—40 of them in Tampa—won’t be able to file a regular ballot because the True the Vote-affiliated group Tampa Vote Fair has challenged their voting status. Of those, 68 have been challenged because Tampa Vote Fair asserts they are ineligible due to a felony conviction. These people will not know that their vote has been challenged until they reach the polls and are forced to cast a provisional ballot. (Some of them may have already attempted to vote during the early voting period.)

Could every challenge be legitimate? Sure. But in 2012, the state of Florida attempted to purge voter roles of felons and illegal voters, came up with a flawed list, and -- after some legal wrangling -- abandoned it. It's totally possible that parties and citizen groups have come up with 100 percent accurate lists of illegal voters, based on public documents. It's also possible that they've screwed some of this up, and will try to deny ballots to people who have the right to vote. Also possible: Some hilarious post-election hand-wringing by conservatives about how they failed to score more than 5 percent of the black vote.

David Weigel is a Slate political reporter. 

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