Wash. Post falsely implied voter suppression efforts are bipartisan


The front page of the October 31 edition of The Washington Post included the following teaser to an article inside the paper:

Dirtiest of Tricks
The hairbreadth presidential race has brought out the worst in political dirty tricks on voters, election officials say.

While this teaser implied that the article would be about dirty tricks by both Republicans and Democrats, the reality, as laid out in the article itself (on page A22), is that it is primarily Republicans who appear to be trying unfairly, and even illegally, to suppress the vote of those likely to vote Democrat. The article noted the following activities apparently aimed at suppressing Democratic voters:

  • Students' party affiliations were unknowingly changed to Republican after they signed unrelated petitions in Florida and Pennsylvania. Florida officials estimated that some 4,000 potential voters were affected.
  • Fliers in Allegheny County, Pennsylvania, instructed Democrats to vote on Wednesday, November 3.
  • In Milwaukee, fliers labeled as coming from the "Milwaukee Black Voters League" has incorrect statements about election law, such as "If you've already voted in any election this year, you can't vote in the presidential election," as well as intimidating warnings about possible jail time for violating non-existent laws. A Wisconsin Republican Party spokesman suggested that Democrats may be circulating the fliers in order to anger voters to increase turnout.
  • Voters in Ohio received letters falsely informing them that if their registrations came from Democratic and NAACP voting drives that they were unable to vote. The Post wrote that some Ohio Republicans advanced "the double-dirty-trick explanation, saying the Democrats are out to make the GOP look bad."
  • In Cleveland (where Democrats outnumber Republicans more than 3 to 1), voters have received calls informing them of incorrect polling place changes and people have reported that people have come to their homes and made the illegal offer to collect and return their absentee ballots.
  • In South Carolina, voters have received letters, falsely claiming to be from the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), that incorrectly inform voters they could be arrested at the polls if they have outstanding parking tickets or if they are overdue on child support.
  • "Republican-leaning interest groups" have been accused of destroying or not turning in registration submitted by Democrats.

Regarding allegations against Democrats of voter suppression, the Post article had only this very general statement, with no anecdotal or statistical support:

Authorities in several states also are investigating claims, by former employees of groups paid by both the Republican Party and Democratic-leaning interest groups, that they destroyed or did not turn in new registrations by voters of the opposite party.

Posted In
Elections, Voting Rights & Issues
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