Tea Party Voter Suppression Effort Targeting Black Precincts

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The Daily Banter Headline Grab. From Huff Post:

Poll watchers from groups ostensibly targeting voter fraud are headed primarily to minority voting precincts on Election Day, lending support to the argument that their real goal is to suppress the African-American and Latino vote.

A partial list of precincts targeted by a Pittsburgh Tea Party group working on behalf of the Republican Party shows that nearly 80 percent of the voters in those precincts are African-American, compared to 13 percent countywide, according to civil rights and union groups who on Monday called on the U.S. Department of Justice to investigate.

An Ohio political blog is reporting that forms submitted to election officials by Tea Party spin-off group True the Vote in Franklin County -- which includes Columbus -- show poll watchers heading to 28 precincts, where most voters are African-American. Overall, the county electorate is 20 percent African-American.

"We've been concerned from the beginning that the efforts of True the Vote and aligned groups were going to be targeted largely in communities of color," said Eric Marshall, manager of legal mobilization for the Lawyers' Committee for Civil Rights Under Law. "We've seen in the past where these kinds of tactics can lead to intimidation and harassment of voters."

A potentially even greater concern now is that the groups will use the voter challenge process "for the express purpose of creating lines and confusion," Marshall said.

Prohibitively long lines, particularly where Democrats are in the majority, are a net plus for Republicans; extraordinarily long lines for early voting in South Florida resulted from Republican Gov. Rick Scott's rollback of early voting days there.

Pittsburgh Tea Party Movement founder Patti Weaver, whose group trained the would-be poll watchers there, said her volunteers wouldn't interfere with anyone. "We are not harassing voters. We won't be talking to voters. We're just there to observe," she told HuffPost.

As for the list of precincts, she said: "Nobody's targeting African-Americans anywhere in the country, that I know of. We're sending volunteers to precincts which have had irregularities in the past or statistical issues."

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