Let's keep in mind that the Republicans haven't proven are even come close to proving widespread voter fraud. That's just a Republican myth. Voter suppression is much more prevelant.
And the idea that college students were only being used as pawns, as though they don't have at least some vested interest in their college's hometown, as though they don't have to live there for the better part of 4 or more years, is insulting. Gilbert can claim it has nothing to do with race, but I've never heard that kind of language being applied to students at majority white colleges.
Obama Incites Republicans With New North Carolina Black Voters
By Heidi Przybyla
BloombergAugust 6, 2008
Aug. 6 (Bloomberg) -- The North Carolina waterfront community of Elizabeth City witnessed an early skirmishin a high-stakes political battle over registering newblack voters, which may help decide the outcome of thepresidential election.
Republican voter Richard Gilbert last year challenged the eligibility of several students at historicallyblack Elizabeth City State University to vote in amunicipal election. The local elections board dismissed Gilbert's complaint that students are only temporary residents in the town of about 20,000 people.
Similar fights over voter qualifications will be waged this year, particularly in southern states, as Democrat Barack Obama's drive to register hundreds of thousands of new black voters clashes with Republican suspicions that get-out-the-vote efforts recruit people who aren't eligible to cast ballots.
``If the Democrats are to have any chance at all ofcarrying this state, it will only be because of a much larger-than-normal and completely united black vote,''said David Rohde, a political science professor at Duke University in Durham.
The North Carolina NAACP in May asked the U.S. Justice Department to investigate whether the Elizabeth City complaint was aimed at discouraging lawful voting by black students. ``We challenged that because it could have a ripple effect across North Carolina,'' said thes tate NAACP President, Reverend William Barber.
Gilbert said race played no role in his challenge, which stemmed from his opinion that the students had ``no stake'' in the town and were being used as ``politicalpawns.''
Republicans reject the notion that monitoring voter qualifications amounts to intimidation, saying election fraud is a concern when waves of new registrations pour in.
``Some of the outside groups that will come in and register voters are not familiar with North Carolina law,'' said Brent Woodcox, assistant legal counsel for the North Carolina Republican Party.
``They don't have a lot of oversight from the Democratic Party,'' he said. ``We're going to be vigilant through the election cycle that all the rules are followed.''
Republicans scored an election-year victory in April, when the U.S. Supreme Court upheld Indiana's law requiring voters to produce photo identification. Democrats had challenged the measure, saying photo identification requirements in Indiana and other states discourage voting by the elderly and the poor.
In North Carolina, Democrats want to register at least120,000 new black voters to help efforts to end a string of seven Republican presidential victories in the state, said U.S. Representative G.K. Butterfield, who coordinates daily with Obama's campaign.
Obama has set similar goals in other Southern states, including Virginia, Florida and Georgia.
Throughout those areas, Democratic registration drives will run into Republican-backed efforts to police vote religibility.
Georgia in 2006 imposed new voter identification requirements. In Louisiana, the Republican secretary ofstate started an investigation of registration drivesafter getting complaints about duplicate or invalidapplications. In Florida, new registrations must beturned in within 10 days, a requirement that's had a``chilling effect'' on voter sign-ups, according to the NAACP.
Democratic activists and civil rights groups say many new rules will suppress voting by blacks and otherminority groups that historically favor Democrats. While voter-eligibility clashes have happened before, Obama's registration push raises the stakes and the intensity of this year's contests.
``Almost every one of those provisions that have beensponsored at the state and national level have beensponsored by Republicans, and almost uniformly opposed by Democrats,'' said Jonah Goldman, director of theNational Campaign for Fair Elections, Voting RightsProject. ``It is an incredibly poisonous partisan environment.''
In North Carolina, ballot battles started during this year's primary elections. The NAACP filed a complaintwith the Justice Department charging that members of agroup called Women's Voices Women Vote called black citizens who were already registered, falsely telling them they needed a registration packet to vote. The packets never arrived, the NAACP said.
``It apparently was successful'' in leading many peopleto believe they weren't registered, said Stella Adams, a North Carolina voting rights activist. ``Their tactics,if they're not properly punished, will be repeated.''
Washington-based Women's Voices Women Vote, which promotes voting by unmarried women, released a statement saying members never intended to suppress black voters.
Ed Turlington, a former adviser to presidential candidates, including former North Carolina Senator John Edwards, said he expects more eligibility challenges as Obama seeks record black voter turnout.
``The other side is going to throw everything they canto stop him,'' Turlington said. A high level ofparticipation in the May primary may cut down on the effectiveness of those efforts, he said. ``Many people participated in the May primary and will not be susceptible to the smokescreens.''
The Obama team already has several lawyers in North Carolina, Butterfield said.
``There are going to be a lot of issues that spring up,'' said Ben Ginsberg, a Republican strategist and lawyer who played a central role in the Florida recount in the 2000 presidential election. ``The degree of caffeination of the lawyers involved in this, at least on the Democratic side, is higher than I've ever seen it.''
To contact the reporter on this story: Heidi Przybyla inWashington at email@example.com .