12 November 2004

Bush Campaign Accused of Suppressing Black Vote

Charlene Drayton - November 12, 2004

An elections supervisor in Tallahassee, Florida has accused the Bush Campaign of taking steps to suppress the Black vote during last week's election. The supervisor, Ion Sancho, has been an elections supervisor for 16 years. He has gone public recently, charging the Bush campaign with using a little known Florida law that allows political party operatives working inside polling stations to stop voters from obtaining a ballot. The law, allows operatives to challenge whether a voter is eligible to vote based on certain criteria. Voters are allowed to only vote "provisionally" after they agree to sign an affidavit validating their legal status. However, Sancho says not one challenge had been made to a voter in the 16 years he has been supervisor of elections. He called this year's sudden challenges "intimidation." Sancho first made his claims to the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) news show "Newsnight." Newsnight also claimed to have knowledge of secret documents and e-mails from the Bush campaign head quarters that suggested a plan to disrupt voting in Florida's African-American voting districts. According to the report, e-mails and documents prepared for the executive director of the Bush campaign in Florida, contained a 15-page "caging list" of nearly 2,000 names and addresses for voters in predominantly Black neighborhoods throughout Jacksonville.

"The only possible reason why they would keep such a thing is to challenge voters on Election Day," Sancho said to News night. "Quite frankly, this process can be used to slow down the voting process and cause chaos on Election Day, and discourage voters from voting." Federal law prohibits targeting voters for challenges if race is a factor. A republican spokesperson denied any wrong doing and told Newsnight the "caging list" was only a record of returned mail from fundraising solicitations or returned letters sent to newly registered voters to verify an address. Mindy Tucker Fletcher, a republican state campaign spokeswoman, told Newsnight the list was not put together "in order to create" a list of voters to challenge, but Fletcher refused to deny the list would not be used for that purpose.


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