One of the ridiculous sideshows in the whole Occupy movement was the attempt by various law enforcement agencies to infiltrate what was essentially a bunch of harmless people who posed no serious threat to anyone (in fact, when its popularity waned, Occupy could always count on a police overreaction to keep sympathy strong).
So wouldn’t it be great if law enforcement actually kept close tabs on people who are edging up against or engaging in civil rights violations instead–like these nuts (boldface mine):
A new report from Common Cause and Demos, titled “Bullies at the Ballot Box,” describes efforts by right-wing groups — foremost among them, a Tea Party spin-off group called True the Vote — to train as many as a million volunteers in “poll-watching.”
“I think we have seen a much more coordinated and well-funded effort than we’ve seen in years past, and that’s why it’s so concerning,” said Jenny Flanagan, director of voting and elections at Common Cause and one of the report’s authors.
“The message behind their tactic I think is what’s most concerning to us,” she said, because the groups appear to be “targeting racial minorities and others who have a past of being targeted.”
The report notes that True the Vote official Bill Ouren has told volunteers they should make voters feel “like driving and seeing the police following you.” And the president of True the Vote coalition partner Judicial Watch has accused the Obama administration of trying to mobilize “the food stamp army” and “steal the election” with the “illegal alien vote.”…
“There is a real danger that voters will face overzealous volunteers who take the law into their own hands to target voters they deem suspect,” the report concludes.
Of course, a cynic would argue that, in many states, my question answers itself. Still a boy can dream, can’t he?
For those who are wondering, this is happening everywhere even in Massachusetts:
In a 2011 special election in Massachusetts, a Tea Party group was reported to have harassed Latino voters and others at the polls in Southbridge, Massachusetts. The Southbridge town clerk protested these actions, reporting that targeted voters left saying, “I’ll never vote again,” while a retired judge witnessed “citizens coming from their voting experience shaken or in tears.”10
Be aware of this, especially if you’re not white or if you are a student, and know your rights.
An aside: The Republicans are really putting it all in on this hand. If I were stopped (perhaps if I ‘looked’ Latino) by Republican operatives, I would never vote Republican again, even if I were inclined to do so. Tribalism is a two-edged sword.
Related: Charles Pierce has more details.