Letters to the Editor

Coverage choosy on poll incidents

Dear Fox News,

I cannot help but notice your intense efforts to bring the nation's attention to an incident in which two members of the New Black Panther Party stood outside a polling place in order to suppress the vote at a heavily minority precinct in Philadelphia during the 2008 election. Even though the Bush Justice Department opted not to pursue criminal charges in this case, we should not overlook the threats to the sanctity and security of voter's rights, the foundation of our Democracy. And while the mainstream media continues to ignore this incident, you have reported frequently and repeatedly about this case.

While your efforts to raise consciousness about this incident are noteworthy, I cannot help but be troubled by some past voter suppression directed at minorities you have overlooked.

For instance, in 2000 an over-zealous purge of felon voters in Florida disenfranchised tens of thousands of voters -- most of whom were black and could have made the difference in this state election ultimately decided by 600 votes and the Supreme Court.

In the 2002 election, since-convicted political operative Raymond Allen suppressed "get out the vote" efforts in New Hampshire by jamming phone banks that intended to remind low-income voters to cast their ballot. Furthermore, because the Justice Department of the previous administration mostly ignored voter suppression efforts, this is the only successful prosecution of voter fraud in the past decade.

We all know how close the vote in Ohio was in 2004, but what is under-reported is how then-Secretary of State Ken Blackwell moved voting machines from poor black neighborhoods to wealthy suburbs. Furthermore, credible tabulation issues were reported with the voting machines that remained in many of these minority precincts. The mainstream media also ignored the caging (the sending of junk mail in the hopes it will be "returned to sender" in order to challenge voters' address and right to vote in a particular precinct) targeted at foreclosed homes in minority neighborhoods during this election cycle.

Minority votes were also strategically suppressed in Virginia during the 2006 election, yet no one has been prosecuted for these high crimes against our democracy. Black voters received letters and phone calls with false claims such as Election Day had changed, their polling place had moved, or that there were problems with their voter registration and they would be jailed for trying to vote. A similar incident occurred the same year in California as Hispanic voters received letters claiming even naturalized immigrants could be arrested for trying to vote.

In 2008, a women's group used mass mailings and robotic calls falsely telling blacks in North Carolina they were ineligible to vote because of issues with their registration. Caging also occurred during this election as party operatives used foreclosure and eviction lists to challenge voters' registration in Michigan, Nevada, Colorado and Florida. Although this practice continues to disenfranchise many poor, minority voters, it is still legal in many states. Furthermore, an over-extension of the government to suppress individual rights, an Indiana law requiring photo identification to vote will disenfranchise up to 100,000 poor, black voters in future elections because they cannot afford the hidden taxes that must be paid to secure passports and drivers' licenses.

Now that I have brought them to your attention I expect you will give these crimes the fair and balanced attention they deserve. No longer can we tolerate efforts to suppress this fundamental American right, especially for those poor, minority voters who are 800 percent more likely to have their vote challenged and rejected than others.

The writer is in the Department of Psychology and Sociology at Coastal Carolina University.