GOP Busted for Voter Suppression
posted by Ari Berman on 10/16/2008 @ 4:46pm
While the GOP continues to accuse Democrats of voter fraud, top Republican operatives are getting busted for voter suppression.
The executive director of the Montana Republican Party, Jake Eaton, resigned Tuesday "after a failed attempt to challenge registration of voters in some Democratic strongholds," the Helena Independent Record reported.
According to the paper:
Republicans raised concerns with registered voters who live at addresses that differed from the addresses listed on their voter registration information. The party asked that county election officials ask voters to prove their current addresses.
Montana Democrats, charging it was an attempt to suppress voter turnout, went to federal court to block the effort.
U.S. District Judge Donald Molloy of Missoula didn't rule in the case, but issued a strongly worded order blasting the Republicans.
"The timing of these challenges is so transparent that it defies common sense to believe the purpose is anything but political chicanery," Molloy wrote.
As a result, Eaton was shown the door. However, the state Democratic Party cautioned that the scandal wasn't limited to one rogue operative.
"After the efforts of the Republican Party to suppress the rights of 6,000 Montana voters, I think it was clear that a change in management was needed," state Democratic Party spokesman Kevin O'Brien said.
"However, this should not lead anyone to believe that Mr. Eaton was acting independent of his party's leadership. And it doesn't change the fact that that the Montana Republican Party owes voters an explanation for why they attempted to undermine the democratic process and cost taxpayers tens of thousands of dollars in the process."
Adds Montana blogger Jay Stevens of the great blog Left in the West:
There's no way Eaton, a recent college grad, challenges the voting eligibility of 6,000 Montanans on his own. The methods too closely resemble voter suppression efforts elsewhere to be coincidence. Take, for example, the voter suppression effort in Michigan, which was smaller in scale ("only" 1,500 voters), but had a similar outcome. There, the federal judge ruled that the Michigan Secretary of State's office--run by a Republican--violated federal law in its efforts to purge the rolls of voters because voter cards were returned as "undeliverable" or because voters applied for a driver's license in another state. And, as if on cue, John McCain, using ACORN as a causus belli, is calling for an "immediate investigation" of "voter fraud" in battleground states.
In case you were wondering, the latest poll in Montana has McCain leading Obama by five points, 50-45. In a state with 660,000 registered voters, 6,000 votes can make a whole lotta difference. Democrat Jon Tester won an upset bid for the Senate in 2006 by less than 3,000 votes.