Intimidating black voters
Wednesday 06 October @ 18:21:57
by Jim Hightower
Governor Jeb Bush is out to make his state of Florida the next Florida. In 2000, Jeb used such crude tactics as illegally purging voter lists to help engineer his brother's 537-vote “victory” in that election and now, here he goes again.
As one peer of Florida's GOP establishment candidly puts
it: “A Democrat can’t win a statewide election in Florida without
a high turnout of African-Americans. It’s no secret that the name of the
game for Republicans is to restrain that turnout as much as possible.”
The Orlando League of Voters can attest to that. This African-American civic
group has played a big role in turning Orlando from a Republican stronghold
into a city that increasingly votes Democratic. Their reward for getting involved
in the democratic process is to have Jeb Bush's state police suddenly come knock-knock-knocking
on the doors of some 50 of the League's grassroots leaders. These leaders, mostly
elderly black women, find it frightening to be confronted in their homes by
armed troopers interrogating them about their electoral participation.
They are not charged with any crime. Instead, police say they’re investigating
vague allegations that some voter fraud might have occurred in this spring's
mayoral election. Yet, Jeb’s own state police honcho wrote in a May letter,
that “there was no basis to support the allegations,” and he declared
“this matter closed.”
But it was not closed. Police now say the chief's letter was “poorly worded,”
and the intimidating in-home interrogations continued this summer as the presidential
election heated up. Jeb’s police action is creating a blanket of fear
among the League’s volunteers who worry that their perfectly-legal efforts
will land them in jail.
Of course, Jeb and his police honcho say there’s no political motive involved,
but when asked how long the Orlando investigation will go on, police say it
might continue right through November 2nd. ||
Jim Hightower is the
best-selling author of "Let's Stop Beating Around the Bush," on sale
from Viking Press.