Election Protection

Each year our election protection team organizes volunteer poll watchers and lawyers in targeted precincts to help people exercise their right to vote and prevent many common forms of voter suppression.  In 2010 we ran into wrongful ID checks, missing and provisional ballot confusion, unfair absentee and provisional ballot rejections, electronic poll book problems, and misleading robo calls, targeting African American precincts. Our election protection volunteers helped make sure thousands of votes were counted that otherwise might have been suppressed.  Your contribution of time and money will help us prevent voter suppression in Fairfax County.

BACKGROUND: Lyndon Johnson called the right to vote, “the most powerful tool ever devised by man to break down the walls of injustice” and yet, among Democratic nations, the United States has nearly the lowest voter turn out each election cycle.  Some of this is apathy but much of it is strategic voter suppression designed to minimize the vote among typical Democratic voters.

Voter suppression is a strategy to influence the outcome of an election by discouraging or preventing certain groups of people from exercising their right to vote.  The tactics can range from minor “dirty tricks” that make voting inconvenient, to blatantly illegal activities that physically intimidate or prevent eligible voters from voting.  Many suppression tactics are conducted legally, with a claim that they are necessary to prevent widespread voter fraud. Most of these tactics can be prevented with good voter education and with Democratic poll watchers like you.

Some of the most effective forms of voter suppression try to convince Democratic voters to punish the system by not voting.  They set the stage for this with false claims of corruption and voter fraud and create the perception that people’s vote won’t be counted, doesn’t matter or there is not much difference between the candidates.  If people don’t believe their vote matters, they usually don’t vote.  Other forms of voter suppression are more targeted and can be prevented.  The best defense against these methods is to educate people on how to exercise their right to vote and to man the polls with volunteers like you.

Each year, African American precincts are targeted with misleading robo calls and fliers to send them to the wrong polling locations.  The voter rolls are purged and caging lists are used to push Democratic voters into using provisional ballots which are often unavailable and are easily rejected for minor mistakes.  Each year we run into Republican poll watchers who show up to harass and intimidate minority voters in targeted precincts.

The goal is not to stop voter fraud because it is well documented that voter fraud is extremely rare.  The goal is to intimidate and suppress the vote in targeted minority precincts, which typically vote Democratic.  We need your help to stop this and other common forms of voter suppression in Fairfax County.  Please consider volunteering to be a poll watcher or donate to help us run an effective election protection program this year.

The Republican Threat to Voting – NY Times, April 2011

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