Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Courtesy of Institute for SouthernStudies

SPECIAL REPORT: Virginia "Ground Zero" for Election Day Voting Controversies

Below is a report we sent out at 4 pm this afternoon, summarizing some of our key coverage of voting rights and election issues in the South. Visit Facing South for more updates and analysis!

VOTING RIGHTS WATCH - Election Day Special Report

Virginia, Florida and Georgia lead states with voting rights controversies on historic Election Day
NOVEMBER 4, 2008, 4 P.M. -- Florida, Georgia, and especially Virginia have been "ground zero" for voting controversies today in a historic election marked by record turnout across the South.

Several voting rights and election issues have cropped up in the major battleground state of Virginia, where Barack Obama holds a narrow lead in the presidential race:

BLOCK THE VOTE: College-aged voters are 40% of new voters in Virginia, but students have faced big hurdles. The polling site for Virginia Tech has twice as many voters as it's legally authorized to accommodate, and a hacker at George Mason University sent bogus emails to students telling them to vote on Wednesday, Nov. 5. The Republican Party has also threatened to challenge several hundred student votes.

OVERWHELMED PRECINCTS: As voting rights advocates had feared, Virginia has been overwhelmed by high turnout; as of this morning, the national Election Protection hotline had received 200 calls from VA voters about polling site problems and 120 about machine malfunctions. Election Protection has called for extending voting hours to ensure everyone still gets a chance to vote.

DIRTY TRICKS: Not just students have been targeted with deceptive tactics. VA voters have reported receiving anonymous robo-calls that give the wrong precinct for voting and fliers distributed in the Hampton Roads area informed Democrats they should vote on Nov. 5. The state decided against prosecuting those responsible,calling it an "office joke."

Voting Rights Watch has helped bring national attention to several other critical election issues across the South:

FLORIDA HURRICANE: A surge in voting -- especially in South Florida -- helped push Florida to the top of states with calls to the Election Protection hotline before Election Day. Key issues have been ex-felon voting and confusion over Florida's "no match" list -- now numbering over 10,000 voters -- which has been inconsistently applied and possibly disenfranchised legitimate voters.

GEORGIA PURGES: Election Protection has received over 1,000 calls from Georgia, mostly about registration problems. Secretary of State Karen Handel recently drew a rebuke from the Department of Justice and federal judges for her state's aggressive efforts to purge voters.

GULF COAST CONFUSION: Voters in Louisiana and the Gulf Coast -- many displaced by Hurricanes Katrina, Gustav and Ike -- have faced major barriers to confirming registrations and polling locations -- especially worrisome after 21,000 Louisiana voters were purged.

MORE DECEPTIVE TACTICS: CNN reports that voters in Alabama, Arkansas, Mississippi, Missouri and Texas have received text-messages telling them to vote on Nov. 5; fliers with the same bogus information cropped up in North Carolina.

-- Chris Kromm, Sue Sturgis and Desiree Evans for Facing South/Voting Rights Watch

Courtesy of MoveOn.org: Don't Forget To Vote

Election 2008 Voting Information

Today, November 4th, is Election Day! Remember to vote--not just for Barack Obama, but for Congressional, state and local candidates as well.

Where and when do I vote?

Find your polling place, voting times, and other important information by checking out these sites and the hotline below. These resources are good, but not perfect. To be doubly sure, you can also contact your local elections office.

Obama's VoteForChange site: voteforchange.com
League of Women Voters site: vote411.org/pollfinder.php
Obama's voter hotline: (877) US4-OBAMA (or 877-874-6226)

    What should I do before I go?
  • After you've entered your address on either Vote For Change or Vote411, read the voting instructions and special rules for your state.

  • Voting ID laws vary from state to state, but if you have ID, bring it.

  • Check out all the voting myths and misinformation to look out for: http://truth.voteforchange.com/

What if something goes wrong?

  • Not on the voter list? Make sure you're at the right polling place, then demand a provisional ballot.

  • If you're voting on an electronic machine with a paper record, verify that the record is accurate.

  • Need legal help? Call 1-866-OUR-VOTE

  • Try to get video of the problem and submit it to VideoTheVote.org

Want to do more?

  • Text all of your friends: "Vote Obama today! Pass it on!"

  • Volunteer at your local Obama office. Find an office here or here.

  • Make calls from home for Obama.

Now everybody go vote!!!

John Legend: If You're Out There

Monday, November 3, 2008

My Condolenses and My Time

First, my condolenses to the Obama and Dunham families as Barack's grandmother has died of cancer.

Second, I'm making calls for the Obama campaign. If you would like to join, and you should, click below:

Somalia: Girl Stoned to Death

This is not an indictment against either Islam or religion in general. And just to be sure, this isn't an indictment against people of color around the world, and Africa in particular. So read this article and think, "Those people. It's an indictment against global sexism, and global includes the US. Part of changing the world will be empowering women; and, part of empowering women is making sure the men in the family are able and willing to protect them, especially as children.

What does that mean here in the US? Should we go over to Somalia and change their regime? No! And besides, we're already ever though fighting "terror," right? Somehow, this slipped by. And as you'll see, more weapons are not needed.

For the US, it means a couple of things. It means supporting Somalian and international NGOs whose mission it is to empower, protect, and heal women.

This also means we're really gonna have to clamp down on domestic violence and violence agianst women. We're gonna have to empower women by raising the minimum wage. And even more importantly, we're going have to pay more to jobs usually left to women, ie childcare, elderly care, teaching, secretarial work, etc and so on. No, money can't buy happiness; but it can sure as hell by freedom and a sense self-empowerment.

What I mean to say is this - If we're really going to end these sorts of barbarity against women in the world, we're going to have start by ended our more sophisticated by still barbarious treatment of women here in this country. And that means more than just maintaining a structure that benefits corporate masculinity. We're going to have radically chagne the entire system if we really want to put an end to sexism hear and around the world.

And before I finish with me thought, sexism isn't the reason Hillary Clinton lost. And sexism isn't why Sarah Palin's clothing brought so much attention. I mean, Clinton didn't even compete in 11 primary elections, and remember all the attention John Edwards got for his $400 USD haircut? - No1KState

October, 31 2008

Somalia: Girl stoned was a child of 13

Contrary to earlier news reports, the girl stoned to death in Somalia this week was 13, not 23, Amnesty International can reveal.

Aisha Ibrahim Duhulow was killed on Monday, 27 October, by a group of 50 men who stoned her to death in a stadium in the southern port of Kismayu, in front of around 1,000 spectators.

Some of the Somali journalists who had reported she was 23 have told Amnesty International that this age was based upon a judgement of her age from her physical appearance.

She was accused of adultery in breach of Islamic law but, her father and other sources told Amnesty International that she had in fact been raped by three men, and had attempted to report this rape to the al-Shabab militia who control Kismayo, and it was this act that resulted in her being accused of adultery and detained. None of men she accused of rape were arrested.

“This was not justice, nor was it an execution. This child suffered a horrendous death at the behest of the armed opposition groups who currently control Kismayo,” said David Copeman, Amnesty International's Somalia Campaigner.

“This killing is yet another human rights abuse committed by the combatants to the conflict in Somalia, and again demonstrates the importance of international action to investigate and document such abuses, through an International Commission of Inquiry.”

Amnesty International has learnt that:

Aisha Ibrahim Duhulow was reported as being 23, based upon a judgement on her physical appearance, according to one of the journalists who had reported the stoning. Her actual age was confirmed to Amnesty International by other sources, including her father.

Her father said she had only travelled to Kismayo from Hagardeer refugee camp in north eastern Kenya three months earlier.

She was detained by militia of the Kismayo authorities, a coalition of Al-shabab and clan militias. During this time, she was reportedly extremely distressed, with some individuals stating she had become mentally unstable.

A truckload of stones was brought into the stadium to be used in the stoning.

At one point during the stoning, Amnesty International has been told by numerous eyewitnesses that nurses were instructed to check whether Aisha Ibrahim Duhulow was still alive when buried in the ground. They removed her from the ground, declared that she was, and she was replaced in the hole where she had been buried for the stoning to continue.

An individual calling himself Sheik Hayakalah, was quoted on Radio Shabelle saying:``The evidence came from her side and she officially confirmed her guilt, while she told us that she is happy with the punishment under Islamic law.'' In contradiction to this claim, a number of eye witnesses have told Amnesty International she struggled with her captors and had to be forcibly carried into the stadium.

Inside the stadium, militia members opened fire when some of the witnesses to the killing attempted to save her life, and shot dead a boy who was a bystander. An al-Shabab spokeperson was later reported to have apologized for the death of the child, and said the milita member would be punished.


Amnesty International has campaigned to end the use of the punishment of stoning, calling it gruesome and horrific. This killing of Aisha Ibrahim Duhulow demonstrates the cruelty and the inherent discrimination against women of this punishment.

The reports on this killing should be understood within the climate of fear that armed insurgent groups such as al-Shabab have created within the areas they control in Somalia. As Amnesty International has documented previously, government officials, journalists and human rights defenders face death threats and killing if they are perceived to have spoken against al-Shabab, who have waged a campaign of intimidation against the Somali people through such killings.

Since the death, a number of individuals have told Amnesty International they have fled from Kismayo out of fear of suffering a similar fate to Aisha Ibrahim Duhulow.

Surprising Voter Fraud - And a Proud Perpetrator to Boot!

I had planned to write a post about the importance of voting later Monday. And add some John Legend to the post. I may still do the John Legend thing, but for now, this will have to suffice. And it doesn't matter what party it's coming from, it's not right. It's not legal. - No1KState

Voters Across Nation Hit by Dirty Tricks
By Deborah Hastings, AP

(Nov. 2) - In the hours before Election Day, as inevitable as winter, comes an onslaught of dirty tricks — confusing emails, disturbing phone calls and insinuating fliers left on doorsteps during the night.

The intent, almost always, is to keep folks from voting or to confuse them, usually through intimidation or misinformation. But in this presidential race, in which a black man leads most polls, some of the deceit has a decidedly racist bent.

Complaints have surfaced in predominantly African-American neighborhoods of Philadelphia where fliers have circulated, warning voters they could be arrested at the polls if they had unpaid parking tickets or if they had criminal convictions.

Over the weekend in Virginia, bogus fliers with an authentic-looking commonwealth seal said fears of high voter turnout had prompted election officials to hold two elections — one on Tuesday for Republicans and another on Wednesday for Democrats.

In New Mexico, two Hispanic women filed a lawsuit last week claiming they were harassed by a private investigator working for a Republican lawyer who came to their homes and threatened to call immigration authorities, even though they are U.S. citizens.

“He was questioning her status, saying that he needed to see her papers and documents to show that she was a U.S. citizen and was a legitimate voter,” said Guadalupe Bojorquez, speaking on behalf of her mother, Dora Escobedo, a 67-yearold Albuquerque resident who speaks only Spanish. “He totally, totally scared the heck out of her.”

In Pennsylvania, e-mails appeared linking Democrat Barack Obama to the Holocaust. “Jewish Americans cannot afford to make the wrong decision on Tuesday, Nov. 4,” said the electronic message, paid for by an entity calling itself the Republican Federal Committee. “Many of our ancestors ignored the warning signs in the 1930s and 1940s and made a tragic mistake.”

Laughlin McDonald, who leads the ACLU’s Voting Rights Project, said he has never seen “an election where there was more interest and more voter turnout, and more efforts to suppress registration and turnout. And that has a real impact on minorities.”

The Obama campaign and civil rights advocacy groups have signed up millions of new voters for this presidential race. In Ohio alone, some 600,000 have submitted new voter registration cards.

Across the country, many of these firsttime voters are young and strong Obama supporters. Many are also black and Hispanic.

Activist groups say it is this fresh crop of ballot-minded citizens that makes some Republicans very nervous. And they say they expect the dirty tricks to get dirtier in final hours before Tuesday.

“Oh, there’s plenty of time for things to get ugly,” said Zachary Stalberg, president of The Committee of Seventy, a Philadelphia-based government watchdog group that is nonpartisan.

Other reports of intimidation efforts in the hotly contested state of Pennsylvania include leaflets taped to picnic benches at Drexel University, warning students that police would be at the polls on Tuesday to arrest would-be voters with prior criminal offenses.

In his Jewish neighborhood, Stalberg said, fliers were recently left claiming Obama was more sympathetic to Palestinians than to Israel, and showed a photograph of him speaking in Germany.

“It shows up between the screen door and the front door in the middle of the night,” Stalberg said. “Why couldn’t someone knock on the door and hand that to me in the middle of the day? In a sense, it’s very smartly done. The message gets through. It’s done carefully enough that people might read it.”

Such tactics are common, and are often impossible to trace. Robo-calls, in which automated, bogus phone messages are sent over and over, are very hard to trace to their source, say voting advocates. Emails fall into the same category.

In Nevada, for example, Latino voters said they had received calls from people describing themselves as Obama volunteers, urging them to cast their ballot over the phone.

The calls were reported to Election Protection, a nonprofit advocacy group that runs a hot line for election troubles. The organization does not know who orchestrated them.

“The Voting Rights Act makes it a crime to misled and intimidate voters,” said McDonald. “If you can find out who’s doing it, those people should be prosecuted. But sometimes it’s just difficult to know who’s doing what. Some of it’s just anonymous.”

Trying to mislead voters is nothing new.

“We see this every year,” said Jonah Goldman of the advocacy group Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law. “It all happens around this time when there’s too much other stuff going on in the campaigns, and it doesn’t get investigated.”

In 2006, automated phone calls in the final days leading to the federal election wrongly warned voters they would not be allowed to vote without a photo ID. In Colorado and Virginia, people reported receiving calls that told them their registrations had expired and they would be arrested if they showed up to vote.

The White House contest of 2004 was marked by similar deceptions. In Milwaukee, fliers went up advising people “if you’ve already voted in any election this year, you can’t vote in the presidential election.” In Pennsylvania, a letter bearing what appeared to be the McCandless Township seal falsely proclaimed that in order to cut long voting lines, Republicans would cast ballots on Nov. 2 and Democrats would vote on Nov. 3.

E-mail assaults have become increasingly popular this year, keeping pace with the proliferation of blogging and Obama’s massive online campaign efforts, according to voting activists.

“It is newer and more furious than it ever has been before,” Goldman said.

And Republicans are not exempt. “Part of it is that election campaigns are more online than ever before,” said Goldman. “During the primaries, a lot of Web sites went up that seemed to be for (GOP candidate Rudy) Giuliani, but actually were attack sites.”

New York City’s former mayor and his high-profile colleagues Fred Thompson and Mitt Romney were also targeted in fake Internet sites that featured “quotes” from the candidates espousing support for extreme positions they never endorsed.

Then, I was looking for a post easier to edit and I found this on the Brooklynian.com Brooklyn Blog Message Boards:

I also made a video of it. While I was doing so , the lady responsible for posting that warning came in to the building. - That's from the woman who actually found the note.

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